Dear Adelphi Community,
On September 16, I shared this message with you, recognizing Adelphi’s need for and commitment to change to advance a more diverse, inclusive and equitable University environment where every individual feels welcomed and valued. Our Faculty Senate and administration have collaborated significantly over the past semester, along with members of the faculty, staff and student body, advancing numerous initiatives our community has identified as critical. We have also put in motion several new actions based on your ideas and feedback, which you have provided to us on social media, in open forums, in emails and in other formal and informal communication channels.
Allow me to share the progress made on previously stated promises, many of which are outlined online, as well as newly identified actions that are underway.
An Update on Previous Initiatives
- Enhance and expand diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) education for all members of our community: Between September 2020 and the first week of March 2021, a combination of University leaders, staff and student leaders have taken one or more diversity education classes, amounting in aggregate to more than 1,000 course enrollments. Participants have included our Board of Trustees, Executive Leadership, the President’s Cabinet, the Department of Public Safety and Transportation, our various schools and colleges, several administrative units on campus, and club and organization leaders. We have also engaged the firm of Traliant to develop online training modules that will expand access across the community.
- Offer regular community forums, safe spaces and diversity events: Our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and our Division of Student Affairs have held numerous open and dedicated forums since September to gain feedback on our ongoing campuswide DEI work. We will continue to host regular opportunities to share. We welcome ideas for future ways to continue collaborating.
- Make academic and curricular changes: Since the start of Fall 2020, our Academic Diversity Implementation Team (ADIT) has been evaluating Adelphi’s hiring, mentoring, retention and tenure practices; professional and academic activities; and curricular content. They are working to ensure each area reflects race, diversity and social injustice issues. We anticipate our programs will add diversity requirements into their curricula and major courses over the coming six to 12 months. Some have already begun.
- Establish diversity councils within colleges and schools: The newly formed diversity councils of each college and school have submitted improvement plans and begun activities to achieve their strategic goals. For more information on progress by school, please contact Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Graduate Studies Anne Mungai, PhD, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Create a welcoming and inclusive environment for our LGBTQ+ population: Thanks to the leadership of our LGBTQ+ Task Force, our LGBTQ+ friendliness score on the Campus Pride Index increased this year from 81 percent to 87 percent, landing Adelphi 4.5 out of 5 stars. Of particular note, the Student Counseling Center (LGBTQ+ Counseling and Health) and the Office of University Admissions (LGBTQ+ Recruitment and Retention) reached a 100 percent 5-star rating this year. With our Department of Public Safety and Transportation (LGBTQ+ Campus Safety), these are the first three areas at Adelphi to reach this milestone.
A Look at New Initiatives
In the fall, we engaged the firm of Baker Tilly to assess Adelphi’s complaint and issue reporting process. Their main findings and recommendations can be viewed online. We take these findings very seriously. As an outgrowth of this effort, I share the actions we will undertake in the coming six to nine months:
- Establishment of a centralized Complaint and Investigation Office: This office will be a single point of contact for receiving and processing concerns, complaints, and reports of harassment, hate, racism, bias and inappropriate conduct by our community members. Our new Complaint and Investigation Office will be staffed by legal personnel and a dedicated communications contact who are well versed in the University’s Title IX, Student Conduct and Community Standards policies. A care manager will be assigned to every matter, and formal complaint tracking software will ensure consistent timelines, expectations, updates and cases for all involved individuals. A new website will be developed for the Complaint and Investigation Office to provide a single, comprehensive guide for community members to submit all reports and complaints.
- Review of the University Code of Conduct and sanctions: Together with our faculty and student leadership, the Division of Student Affairs will review our Code of Conduct to consider updates that reflect the University’s values and goals for a safe, inclusive and welcoming campus culture. Informed by current best practices and consistent with professional standards outlined by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), the review will assess prohibited conduct, weaknesses, challenges and student accountability.
- Creation of a one-stop office for four student services: This new approach will provide a more connected experience across the spectrum of Student Financial Services, Student Account (Payment) Services, Cashiers and Billing, and the Registrar. Operations will be streamlined and simplified into a single point of contact with full-service support to assist our students and their families. Additionally, a new consolidated, one-stop website will offer virtual assistance across all four student services.
- Adjustment to our Merit Scholarship policy: As we shared with students on March 2, 2021, we no longer will require a minimum GPA to retain a merit scholarship that is awarded to incoming students. This permanent policy change will maximize the consistency and reliability of your gift aid, promoting student success. Additionally, throughout this past year, temporary policy adjustments to lengthen our withdrawal deadline and offer pass/no credit grading options have helped accommodate equity issues during the ongoing pandemic.
- Establishment of a Multicultural Center on campus: We will design a unique and meaningful Multicultural Center in the Ruth S. Harley University Center on our Garden City campus. As a hub for diverse programming and resources, it will have a designated staff member to coordinate the Multicultural Center’s activities and ensure a comprehensive and respectful calendar of events for our community. Our multicultural student organizations will be encouraged to use this center to meet and collaborate.
- Creation of a visually supportive campus environment: We will visually and culturally celebrate our diverse community members and strongly denounce racist and hateful behavior. We will identify a prominent public space on our Garden City campus to paint a mural representing and celebrating our diverse community and our commitment to inclusion and equity. Other steps will include University-wide signage and banners that proudly proclaim Adelphi’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and asking all incoming students to sign a pledge confirming their commitment, as well as denouncing hateful, racist, discriminatory and biased behavior during their time at Adelphi.
Since I joined Adelphi as president in 2015, we have made great strides in diversity, equity and inclusion work, particularly as one of our University’s six strategic goals outlined in Momentum. But, as I noted earlier, there is always more work to do.
If you have input for any of our initiatives, want to be part of a working team or particular effort, or have questions, please email me at email@example.com or our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at firstname.lastname@example.org. Later this semester, we also look forward to recognizing our faculty and staff who are leading change—last year we introduced the Presidential Award for Diversity and Inclusion for staff and this year the Provost’s Office launched Faculty Excellence Awards in Social Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
I am fully committed to working with you—as we have over the past five years—to advance this vital work further. Thank you for your continued commitment to ensuring Adelphi offers a safe and welcoming environment for all.
All the best,
Christine M. Riordan, PhD