Equity Liaison Initiative

What is the Equity Liaison Initiative?

The Equity Liaison Initiative is a strategic, cooperative, campus-wide effort to identify and close equity gaps affecting students and employees.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an "equity gap"? expanding section

An equity gap is a systemic disparity in access, retention, or achievement that adversely affects students and/or employees of under-represented or under-served populations at UWL such as communities of color, women, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, people from low income backgrounds, first-generation students, and veterans. While currently UWL cannot quantify every possible equity gap on campus, the goal of the Equity Liaison Initiative is to address as many as possible.

In higher education, access and retention have specific meanings for shared data related to students. For more information on equity gaps and how they are measured, please refer to the Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning [IRAP] website.

What is an Equity Liaison? expanding section

What is an Equity Liaison, and how do they help close equity gaps?

An equity liaison is a faculty or staff member designated within each unit who analyzes and interprets equity data, gathers relevant resources, and advocates for evidence-based strategies to help their unit better anticipate and address these equity gaps.

What are the duties/responsibilities of the Equity Liaison?

The equity liaisons help build awareness of the unit’s role in UWL’s mission to provide an equitable and inclusive educational and workplace environment for all by:

  • advocating for best practices using unit-specific research and resources;
  • contributing to development of the unit’s IE/Equity plan;
  • helping prompt discussion in the unit on equity conditions and needs;
  • conveying information about equity gaps specific to the unit;
  • cultivating a climate of shared responsibility for equity and diversity.

What their job is NOT:

  • doing all the work themselves;
  • conflict resolution/intervention;
  • personnel matters;
  • solving other people’s problems;
  • training the department.
How are equity liaisons (EqLs) chosen? expanding section

Equity liaisons can be selected by unit directors/chairs based on individual willingness and capacity to serve. While continuity is important, there is no fixed term for the equity liaison role. Units are encouraged to establish fair and transparent processes for internal selection and rotation of equity liaisons. Units may also establish an equity committee which collectively performs the liaison duties.

What is the role of the unit director/chair? expanding section

While the liaison is responsible for the effort they put into the duties listed above, the chair/director is ultimately responsible for supporting equity-related action steps and for the closure of unit-level equity gaps.

Chairs and directors should support their unit’s equity liaison by:

  • prioritizing the unit’s engagement with UWL’s mission to provide an equitable and inclusive educational and workplace environment for all;
  • collaborating with the equity liaison and other colleagues on the unit’s IE/equity plan;
  • engaging in regular dialog with the liaison regarding the unit’s ongoing and new equity efforts;
  • providing a platform for the liaison to present to the unit and/or facilitate dialog with the unit as a whole regarding ongoing or new equity issues and goals;
  • lending authority/protection/support to equity liaison as needed to ensure the liaison has the ability to be an effective advocate and change agent within the unit;
  • fostering an environment of shared responsibility and accountability within the unit.
What is the role of Vice Chancellors and Deans? expanding section

Vice Chancellors and Deans should support equity liaisons in their Division/College by:

  • holding Directors and Chairs accountable for their unit-level equity efforts;
  • helping to link Directors, Chairs and equity liaisons to other resources on campus;
  • communicating to wider audiences about the importance of equity issues to the Division/College/University mission;
  • in cases where an equity liaison does not feel supported by their Chair or Director, advising and lending authority/protection/support as needed to ensure that the liaison has the ability to be an effective advocate and change agent.
What is the role of the Steering Committee? expanding section

The liaisons will be supported by a steering committee which consists of:

Nizam Arain, Equity & Affirmative Action
Grace Engen, Academic Affairs
Vitaliano Figueroa, Student Affairs
Roger Haro, College of Science and Health
Deb Hoskins, College of Liberal Studies
Roi Kawai, School of Education
Uttara Manohar, Joint Multicultural Affairs Committee
Barbara Stewart, Diversity & Inclusion
Amy Whillock, Administration & Finance

The members of the Equity Liaison Steering Committee will support all equity liaisons by:

  • providing and helping to contextualize data;
  • providing opportunities for liaisons to connect to one another and to campus resources;
  • identifying and responding to training needs of liaisons;
  • keeping campus leadership informed and advocate for ongoing needs of the ELI to upper administration;
  • reporting more broadly to the campus community about the initiative’s progress;
  • integrating ELI to other strategic planning efforts/committees on campus;
  • providing feedback to liaisons on IE and Equity Plans;
  • providing professional development for equity liaisons by securing resources, bringing outside speakers to campus, and organizing workshops;
  • collaborating with Vice Chancellors/Deans to facilitate division/college/university-wide dialog regarding equity issues;
  • serving as a sounding board for liaisons to help develop effective strategies to address emerging challenges.

Resources for Equity Liaisons

Data Sources expanding section
Starting a resource file expanding section

Equity Liaisons are encourage to begin compiling a Resource File on issues of equity and inclusion in your department/unit. 

Examples of items that would be appropriate to include in your resource file include: 

  • Departmental Inclusive Excellence plan. 

  • Department/unit annual report, especially if it includes content on equity, diversity, and inclusion issues. 

  • Bylaws and guidelines for retention, tenure, promotion, and merit. 

  • A list of issues related to equity and inclusion that are topics of discussion or active efforts in your department/unit. 

  • Information about what peer institutions are doing to advance equity and inclusion in your field.  

  • Academic literature or news articles regarding gender, race, ethnicity, or disability issues in your discipline. 

  • Any data sets that your department/unit currently collects or possesses that relate to equity issues. (If there are data sets you don't have yet but would like to have, please make a note of this.) 

  • An inventory of existing training or professional development opportunities related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

  • Information about professional societies that focus on under-served populations in your field.