Final Report

    From its beginning, Auburn University has a little-known rich and diverse history of embracing newcomers and standing up to injustice and discrimination. Although our path has not always been perfect, and there have been struggles to adapt and adjust, we have always managed to build a bigger tent in an effort to ensure no one was excluded. From the first 180 male students in 1859, to welcoming female students in 1892; from standing up to Klansmen as they marched down Main Street in 1920, to establishing Club Latino Americano in 1945; from enrolling Harold Franklin in 1964, to forming the Gay-Straight Alliance organization in 1991, or hosting its first Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in 2016, our community has realized that it is our differences that unite us, make us stronger and better. Just as George Petrie wrote in the 1945 Auburn Creed, “I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men.”

    Today the Auburn Family has an opportunity to further expand the tent of inclusion, calibrate the scales of equity, and once again embrace the wonderful diversity that is Auburn. To do this, the President and Provost embarked on a journey of discovery in December 2015. Wanting to learn how to become a stronger and more welcoming institution, they established a committee of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and administrators to find the answers to three questions: What works well? What doesn’t work well? and What would you do if you could? at Auburn University in terms of equity, inclusion and diversity.

    In January 2016, the committee set out to ask these three questions of as many members of the Auburn Family as possible. After conducting a careful review of documents and the institution’s organizational structure, the committee facilitated almost 200 focus groups, open forums, and individual interviews to identify key themes. With more than 2,500 responses to a climate survey that assessed key themes identified, the committee developed a communication plan for sharing the results and created ongoing ways to collect input about student, faculty, and staff experiences, perceptions and recommendations.

    What the committee discovered is being shared with you here. Because we know you care. Because we know how much you love Auburn. Because we know that when we are united we become better and stronger. Because this is Auburn and because we are Family.

    Results

    After listening to almost 3,500 members of the Auburn Family, there are several things you told us work well, don’t work as well as they should, and that you would like to see changed. Strong overlapping themes were identified and reinforced across the focus groups, interviews and survey responses. Respondents consistently talked about the need for funding and resources for scholarships and salaries. University Organizational and Structural Processes were also consistently mentioned. There were many Curriculum and Professional Development suggestions for students, faculty and staff. You especially talked about Recruiting and Retention for students, faculty and staff.

    On the survey, you told us that you love the beauty of the campus and the new Recreation and Wellness Center. More than half of you feel the university does a good job providing academic support for students. Even when we asked what doesn’t work as well, students, faculty, employees and alumni again were in agreement. Almost half of you told us we need to do a better job with Black/African-American student recruitment and retention. Talking about uncomfortable issues and having a more diverse administration and staff were other topics that don’t work as well as you would like.

    This means we have some work to do and improvements to make. At the same time, you told us that diversity is important to you and that we shouldn’t stop working to get better at having the difficult conversations, creating opportunities for cross-cultural experiences, and building even more unity. It also appears that our community is more ready for change than we were in 2003, as depicted in the figure below.

    The Committee listened and we will continue listening to you, the Auburn Family.

    Recommendations

    The following recommendations and implementation suggestions will become part of our strategic plan so that every division, department, college/school and organization can take action. Other action items will be added as these are achieved. Implementation of the following goals will require the oversight of an Implementation Committee, to include representatives from the Steering Committee, as well as additional members of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, students, faculty, and staff.

    Engage all members of the Auburn Family in promoting and supporting a united and inclusive community by redefining inclusion and diversity as core institutional values.

  1. Adopt a revised Auburn University inclusion and diversity statement, such as "Auburn University will have an open, diverse and inclusive academic and social environment," that articulates a core institutional expectation for the development of current and future initiatives and refocuses the University's emphasis on unity and diversity.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Human Resources, Implementation Committee

  2. All Colleges, Schools, support units, and campus organizations should develop (or, where existing, revise), assess, and fully implement an inclusion and diversity plan. Plans should articulate individual unit needs, goals and objectives, and should be clearly visible and effectively communicated to all stakeholders. Common constructs addressed across all plans should include (1) an assessment of how inclusion and diversity efforts are defined and perceived, and (2) identification of barriers to the implementation of inclusion and diversity efforts within and outside of the unit and (3) diversity benchmarks with national and peer institutions. Annual plan updates should include a comprehensive report on actions and efforts to support inclusion and diversity strategies.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Human Resources, Implementation Committee, Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs

  3. All Colleges, Schools, and support units should identify and implement comprehensive academic and professional development opportunities designed to emphasize the value of equity, inclusion, and diversity for all students, faculty, and staff. Programs should emphasize the academic and cultural benefits of these values for both the unit and institution.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee

    Implement programs, policies and practices that support a culture of unity, with an emphasis on the recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff.

  4. Each College, School, and Unit should articulate, implement, and assess clear recruitment and retention strategies to increase the diversity of students and faculty.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee, Office of Admissions, Graduate School, Human Resources

  5. Develop, adjust, and refine institutional recruitment strategies designed to attract and build a more diverse student body. Increased engagement with middle and high schools, as well as two-year colleges and HBCUs should be a priority.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s):  Provost's Office, Implementation Committee, Office of Admissions, Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs

  6. Redirect university financial support to provide increased, need-based scholarship opportunities.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee, Office of Admissions, Office of Development

  7. Strategically increase the number of women and underrepresented faculty across all levels, with an emphasis on transitioning to administrative levels.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee, Deans

  8. Incorporate the diversity history of Auburn University into new student, faculty, and employee orientations and strengthen institutional themes of diversity and equity.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee, Human Resources, FYE

  9. Require all Search Firms and Search Committees to include diversity (physical, cognitive, attitudinal) in top qualified candidate pools.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee, Human Resources, Deans

  10. Implement the recommendations of the mental health task force, including hiring diverse counselors and enabling "walk-in" based scheduling.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Division of Student Affairs

    Review existing policies, practices, and organizational structures to ensure the culture is inclusive.

  11. Place a strategic emphasis on increasing awareness of bias-related issues through professional development and educational opportunities, highlighting individual behaviors and unit policies/procedures that imply bias. Enhance methods for reporting, responding to and preventing bias-related incidents (including microagressions) at individual, unit, and institutional levels.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Human Resources, Implementation Committee, Division of Student Affairs

  12. Establish expectations and implement performance evaluation tools for supervisors and departmental leaders related to harassment and discrimination, and include these metrics in annual employee performance reviews. Implement programs for all employees with supervisory or administrator positions.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost, Human Resources, Supervisors, Deans, Department Heads/Chairs

  13. Publicly acknowledge exemplary practices, programs, and policies in departments and colleges that prove to be effective in recruiting and retention or underrepresented students and faculty via newly created Inclusion Excellence Awards.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee

  14. Establish Campus Climate Grants to support programs or activities with a focus on creating and sustaining a healthy campus climate at Auburn University by assisting student organizations with programming efforts that speak to campus climate, where issues of ability status, age, ethnicity, gender, national origin, native language, race, religion, sexual orientation, globalization, and socioeconomic background may have caused students, staff, or faculty to not feel welcomed, supported, included, and/or valued by the campus community. The goal is to encourage cross cultural collaboration by supporting organizations, departments, or units that work with someone that is not considered an established partner.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee

  15. Enhance the services for students with disabilities assuring that all buildings on campus are accessible and contain the necessary technology and learning needs assistance, access doors, ramps & parking.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Office of Accessibility

  16. Increase dedicated and shared physical spaces where diverse and inclusive activities, meetings, conversations and experiences are facilitated and encouraged.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee, Division of Student Affairs, Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, University Facilities

  17. Encourage organizations and individual students, faculty, and staff to consider how existing practices and physical spaces, such as offices and meeting locations, communicate openness and inclusivity.

    Responsible Lead Unit(s): Provost's Office, Implementation Committee