Equity & Justice Agenda: One Year Later


An update on the Equity & Justice Agenda developed last year, including some highlights of the concrete actions we have taken in each of the Agenda's three focus areas.

Dear Occidental Community:

One year ago, we put forward Oxy’s Equity & Justice Agenda, which outlines key areas for the College to address in order to move us closer to our justice, equity, inclusion, and diversity (JEID) goals. Over this period, we have sought to engage deeply with the concerns outlined in the Agenda and have also embedded longer-term aspects of the Agenda into our campus-wide Integrated Strategic Planning (ISP) work. We have also made significant progress on many of the short-term aspects of the Agenda, including the creation of our new Office of Equity & Justice, led by our new vice president for equity & justice.  Operating at the strategic and institutional level, this office seeks to increase diversity and inclusion at the College and infuse equity and justice into everything that all of us in the Oxy community do every day.

Given this one year anniversary of the Equity & Justice Agenda, we wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some highlights of the concrete actions we have taken in each of the Agenda's three focus areas:

Recruitment & Retention

  • Amended our faculty recruitment and hiring processes, including additional training for searching departments, to help further diversify our faculty

  • Received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation $950,000 grant for Oxy’s Mellon Faculty Diversity Initiative (MDFI), including a cluster hire in our Black Studies department, to support our faculty diversity goals

  • Launched a new staff orientation program to help lay the groundwork for improved staff community and retention

  • Shared with the Board of Trustees a comprehensive set of recommendations to enhance inclusion and equity in the Board member nomination and selection processes

Culture & Community

  • Hired Oxy’s first associate director for racial equity in the ICC to help provide services and programs that promote wellbeing for racially marginalized students

  • Created CARE for BIPOC, a weekly discussion circle, to support the mental health of students of color

  • Increased funding for our Athletics Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) program to enhance community-building efforts and other JEDI-specific initiatives in Athletics

Teaching & Learning

  • Created a new, twice-monthly Faculty Learning Community focused on inclusive pedagogy to help provide faculty tools to enhance their work at the intersection of equity & justice with teaching excellence

  • Instituted a new campus-wide group, the Retention and Persistence Council (RAPC), to develop data-based initiatives to ensure student success, satisfaction, and belonging

  • Implemented new voluntary bias mitigation and anti-racism training sessions for faculty, students and staff to increase knowledge and skills foundational to JEID work on campus

Our new comprehensive community-wide survey, Oxy Speaks!, will enable us to systematically track the impact and effectiveness of our work in each of these focus areas. Your participation in the survey is vital for the success of this work. Please take the time to share your voice through the survey before it closes this Friday, April 1.

As the new Office of Equity & Justice continues to evolve, and as we move closer to completing our ISP, the Equity & Justice Agenda will serve as a foundation for the continued advancement of JEID issues at Oxy. We extend our gratitude to all of you who have already engaged with this work, including the members of the three new groups we have launched to help ensure that JEID is embedded in the very fabric of our institution:

  • the Council on Equity & Justice - focused on identifying JEID opportunities, gaps, successes, and challenges;

  • the Justice & Equity Action Team - focused on developing pathways to success and solutions for addressing the priorities identified by the Council;

  • the Justice Accountability Group - focused on aligning the work of the Council and the Action Team with the strategy and vision of the College, and on holding all members of our operational divisions accountable for this work.

Still, we have much to do to bring us closer to our mission and ideals. As stated in the initial vision of the Agenda, equity and justice are intertwined with academic excellence and must be infused into the everyday work and lives of faculty, staff, and students. We look forward to continuing to partner with all of you as we ensure that this work is an integral part of what all of us in the Oxy community do, every day.

Very best,

Harry J. Elam, Jr.
President

David T. Carreon Bradley
Vice President for Equity & Justice