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UMB’s Diversity Action and Accountability Plan Unveiled

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“Weaving University REPS” offers road map for advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion at UMB.

langelloz@umaryland.edu (Lorri Angelloz) | Tue Nov 21, 2023

UMB’s Diversity Action and Accountability Plan Unveiled

November 21, 2023   |  

“Practice makes permanent,” said Diane Forbes Berthoud, PhD, MA, chief equity, diversity, and inclusion officer and vice president at University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) as she introduced the University’s inaugural diversity strategic plan: “Weaving University REPS: Diversity Action and Accountability Plan” in a hybrid town hall Nov. 9. 

Quoting advice she was once given from a music instructor, Forbes Berthoud explained that repetition of behaviors causes them to perpetuate. “The connection here is what we want to do is begin to practice, more and more, those things that make for a more dynamic, vibrant, equitable, and inclusive university,” she outlined, emphasizing that through that repetition, the diversity plan’s principles will become “fully integrated in our culture and in what we are.” 

Developed by the Diversity Strategic Plan Committee, the plan will serve as a road map and framework to activate and advance equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at UMB over the course of five-plus years. It is built around four themes referred to as REPS: 

  • Increase Recruitment and Retention 
  • Improve Experience and Climate 
  • Support Professional Development and Career Advancement 
  • Increase alignment of Scholarship, Service, and Education toward the fulfillment of UMB’s mission 

Noting their alignment with UMB’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, Forbes Berthoud outlined the specific goals and objectives of each theme, their metrics of assessment and loci of accountability, and time frame for implementation to the online audience and those who attended in person at the SMC Campus Center. 

Theme goals and objectives include: 

  • Recruitment and Retention: To actively recruit, retain, support, and advance diverse students, faculty, and staff. Among the theme’s objectives are expanding career development programs; committing resources to recruit and retain diverse students and faculty (emphasizing tenure-track faculty); recruiting and retaining diverse leaders at senior staff levels; and developing and implementing reward and recognition programs and initiatives that celebrate diverse students, faculty, and staff. Methods to measure success will include the number of career development programs created and expanded; an increased presence of underrepresented minority and minoritized faculty, staff, and students; funds committed to recruitment and retention; and the number of reward and recognition programs and initiatives formalized. 
  • Experience and Climate: To promote and provide professional and educational programs and initiatives that build capacity, equity, and respect, and to support and advance diverse students, faculty, and staff. Among the theme’s objectives are developing, expanding, and the institutionalizing of employee resource groups (ERGs) for faculty and staff and affinity groups for students; implementing accountability measures; implementing consistent and transparent climate assessments and demographic data reporting; and addressing microaggressions through advocacy, training, and reporting. Methods to measure success will include an increase in employee and student participation in ERGs and student affinity groups; more professional development opportunities for all ranks of faculty and staff; and an increase in the number of resources and trainings on microaggressions. 
  • Professional Development and Career Advancement: To support and advance diverse students, faculty, and staff by promoting and providing professional and educational programs and initiatives that build capacity, equity, and respect. Among the theme’s objectives are increasing representation of minoritized and underrepresented groups in professional development opportunities; creating and developing mechanisms to track and assess the effectiveness of professional development programs; and embedding diversity and inclusion concepts into employee and supervisor trainings. Methods to measure success will include the increased promotion and retention rates of program participants; pre- and post-participation surveys indicating positive impact; the number of mentoring networks, sustainable pathways, and programs; and tracking the successful career advancement of participants. 
  • Scholarship, Service, and Education: To promote and integrate EDI in teaching, learning, scholarship, and service. Among the theme’s objectives are reviewing and advising course content across the curriculum; providing and promoting programs and initiatives on inclusive education, pedagogy, and practice; developing mandatory courses across the curriculum focused on EDI; and implementing and measuring the impact of bias training for faculty promotion and tenure committees. Methods to measure success will include the number and percentage of faculty participating in inclusive education, pedagogy, and practice development; the number and percentage of appointment, promotion, and tenure policies reviewed and revised; and pre- and post-surveys of participants in training indicating improvement in implicit bias awareness. 

Detailed objectives for each theme, their metrics of assessment, loci of accountability, time frames, and point of connection to the UMB 2022-2026 Strategic Plan can be found in the full diversity strategic plan at this link. 

Forbes Berthoud said the committee used a data-driven, evidence-based approach to identify EDI priorities and needs, reviewing 20-plus sources including the UMB 2022-2026 Strategic Plan; a faculty study by Damon Williams, PhD; the 2021-2022 President’s Fellows White Paper “The State of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at UMB”;  2019 and 2020 campus climate surveys; and the University’s EDI Data Dashboard.  

She said other items informing the plan were a review of best practices across UMB and throughout higher education; information gathered during 40-plus listening sessions with the University’s community and more than 15 executive-level interviews; feedback gathered through the online platform Konveio, which garnered 1,500 comments from the community; 1,600 responses to a staff survey; and 1,200 responses to a faculty survey. 

“A lot of people look at a strategic plan as a commitment from senior leadership to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. What’s unique about our plan is that the people who created the plan came from all over the University,” said Forbes Berthoud, lauding the input from students, faculty, and staff. “We were able to engage thousands of people both online and in person to hear their ideas about a better UMB and a stronger UMB. 

“It was the inclusive process that helped us to prioritize so that we could make sure we really focus on what’s most important for our University,” she added. “It’s about looking at how we can continue to be better, and how we can be a better organization for our students, our staff, our faculty, and Baltimore.”