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OHIO faculty and administrators meet for fourth Breakfast for Progress

Current, future campus diversity and inclusion efforts at forefront of discussion

More than 100 University faculty and administrators gathered for the fourth and final Breakfast for Progress meeting of the 2017-18 academic year on Tuesday, April 10 in the Walter Hall Rotunda.

The Breakfast for Progress series, led by Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis, provides an opportunity to bring together leaders from every facet of OHIO’s shared governance structure to discuss not only issues that directly impact Ohio University, but to provide increased transparency to the important local, state and national topics that are shaping higher education as well.

The April 10 event fostered dialogues and provided updates surrounding OHIO’s progress in strengthening the its commitments to diversity and inclusion and positioning the campus community, including the individual who will be selected as the University’s first-ever Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion later this year, for success in this vital area.

“One of the announcements that I shared during my inaugural address was the elevation of the University’s Chief Diversity position from Vice Provost to the Vice President level; however, in order for OHIO to become a national leader for diversity and inclusion, simply hiring a Vice President is not enough.” President Nellis said. “We need to work collectively to explore ways in which we can achieve our goal of creating a truly inclusive community for all.”

Vice President for Student Affairs and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Jason Pina shared an overview of the current structure of OHIO’s Diversity and Inclusion office; he also provided a more detailed look at the 2017 Diversity and Inclusion Audit that has helped shape both the University’s near-term diversity and inclusion projects and its VP for Diversity and Inclusion search.

“OHIO’s leadership is working to determine the best initial investments prior to the hiring of our new VP for Diversity and Inclusion,” Dr. Pina said. “It is important for us to identify resources and opportunities that will position our new vice president, and the entire University, for future success.”

Pina also highlighted a number of other ongoing diversity and inclusion-related efforts, including:

2018 Campus Climate Check-in Survey
The 2018 Climate Check-in Survey was delivered to the email accounts of all OHIO students in late March. The survey asks about students’ experiences at Ohio University, including questions about discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct. Pina said that the information obtained from the survey will be critical to helping OHIO evaluate its efforts in creating and maintaining a campus culture of respect and identifying areas for improvement. The survey runs through Friday, April 27, 2018.

Diversity and Inclusion Dashboards
The Office of Institutional Research (IR), OHIO’s central information and analytical support unit, houses a wealth of data that can help to better inform the University’s future approaches to diversity and inclusion. Pina said that IR’s data, along with other campus units' information, played an essential role during the creation of the 2017 Diversity and Inclusion Audit, and that his team recently began working to convert much of the office’s diversity and inclusion data into actionable dashboards that will help to better inform OHIO’s new VP for Diversity and Inclusion later this year.

Near-Term Hiring Plans for Diversity and Inclusion
Pina noted that adding depth within key diversity and inclusion areas across campus will be essential to the overall success of OHIO’s future efforts, and that identifying opportunities for such added resources before the new VP for Diversity and Inclusion joins the University will enable the successful candidate to better identify skill gaps and personnel needs.  Pina also highlighted opportunities to enhance the interconnectedness between the University’s colleges, planning units and many external partners in relation to diversity and inclusion.

Reorganization of Divisional Components
Increasing synergy between OHIO’s campus-wide diversity efforts, particularly initiatives within the University’s academic colleges and planning units, was a key recommendation within the 2017 Diversity and Inclusion Audit, Pina said. He also stressed the need to collect and share proposals for new diversity and inclusion-focused units that would further add value to OHIO’s overall efforts in this important area.

Following Pina’s presentation, Breakfast for Progress attendees were asked to further examine OHIO’s current diversity and inclusion efforts while considering opportunities for the future; previously prepared questions located at the center of each table served as a guide for discussion.

Each group was then asked to highlight the key points of their conversation with the larger group. Shared highlights included: requesting the University to provide more campus outlets for having difficult discussions and embracing alternative viewpoints, encouraging and rewarding the hiring of diverse candidates, supporting both Athens and regional employees through an improved onboarding process, and exploring ways to bridge OHIO’s geographic barriers in an effort to better connect the Athens and Regional Campuses.

Dr. Nellis closed the breakfast by thanking everyone for attending and reiterating his commitment to making OHIO a national leader for diversity and inclusion, one if his strategic pathways for the University’s future.

“The thoughts and discussion that occurred today will provide invaluable insight for our new VP for Diversity and help to guide the entire campus community as we work collectively to foster progress on this important topic,” President Nellis said.