Review of Progress on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

News subtitle

Three initiatives have improved Dartmouth’s campus climate. What comes next?

Snow covered trees in front of Baker Tower

In recent years Dartmouth has been engaged in a trio of institution-wide initiatives aimed at creating a more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable campus environment for faculty, students, and staff. In 2020, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity (IDE) was reimagined and charged with overseeing the three initiatives as well as compliance related to civil rights.

IDE, which was elevated to report to the Office of the President, has two primary areas of work—diversity and inclusion, and equity and compliance. Those working in the diversity and inclusion arm of IDE have spent the past six months reviewing the three major initiatives. Moving Dartmouth Forward (MDF), launched in 2015, comprises a series of measures aimed at reducing high-risk behavior and making the campus safer and more inclusive. A year later, the Inclusive Excellence (IE) initiative was announced to focus on expanding diversity and inclusion among staff, faculty, and students. Most recently, 2019 saw the creation of the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative (C3I), which centered on preventing sexual harassment and the abuse of power.

“In the past several years, Dartmouth has made an intentional, multi-pronged, and increasingly progressive commitment toward creating a more inclusive community for faculty, students, and staff,” says Senior Vice President and Senior Diversity Officer Shontay Delalue, who joined Dartmouth in 2021 after President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 elevated IDE.

Among Delalue’s first priorities has been a review of the progress made through MDF, IE, and C3I, to determine how Dartmouth can build on its accomplishments to create a unified, institutional strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The results of the review are contained in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity Strategic Initiatives Report and show that a majority of the goals of all three initiatives have been accomplished.

Among these achievements are the creation of the house community system for residential life, increased recruitment and retention of faculty and staff from underrepresented groups, and increased resources within the Title IX office.

“We now have an opportunity to build on these initiatives to realize even more transformational change,” Delalue says.

As a part of the work to move toward a new unified plan, next week IDE will begin work with an external consulting group and Dartmouth stakeholders who have a responsibility for working on aspects of diversity and inclusion to brainstorm and develop a framework for strategic priorities in diversity, equity, and inclusion. The draft framework of a comprehensive strategic plan will be shared with the community this spring and will serve as the basis for community engagement sessions. Input from faculty, students, and staff will be considered as IDE finalizes the plan and launches it next fall.

“As we embark on this process, we must recognize that future success will depend on our ability to focus on a specific set of concrete, measurable actions that will have a lasting impact,” Delalue says.

As work on a new strategic plan begins, the equity and compliance arm of IDE is preparing to present a provisional policy addressing discrimination and harassment and providing a process to address such reports. Faculty, students, and staff will be invited to listening sessions in the spring to provide input on the policy, which last month was provisionally approved by senior leadership.

Delalue credits Hanlon with addressing climate issues on campus and continuing to embed the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the fabric of the institution’s operation.

“Enacting positive cultural change on an institutional level requires the dedication of leadership,” she says.

Affirming that diversity, equity, and inclusion are directly tied to Dartmouth’s mission of academic excellence, Hanlon says, “Shontay and the IDE team have taken a clear-eyed, methodical, and comprehensive approach to evaluating how far Dartmouth has come in achieving its vision and what work remains. I have full confidence that this process will set us on a strong course to achieving these goals.”

Hannah Silverstein