Ohio University

Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan

Introduction

Our commitment to inclusive excellence will support and enrich OHIO’s educational mission of teaching and learning while paving a unique path for student success and transformation. 

On September 12th, 2019, former President M. Duane Nellis introduced the “Fearlessly First” Strategic Framework that reimagines the academic enterprise at a time when higher education is undergoing fundamental shifts, accelerated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. During a time of change, OHIO is refocusing on core strategic priorities that ensure student access, inclusion, equity, and success. Within the OHIO Strategic Framework, diversity and inclusion remains a strategic priority in relation to both instruction and campus life. 

Experience and Research-Based Convictions

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion as core aims central to inclusive excellence reflect institutional aspirations and practices rooted in the following three (3) experience and research-based convictions:

  1. Students from diverse backgrounds with a strong sense of connection to community and place are more likely to succeed academically, devote energy and passion to their studies, and retain their connection to Ohio University as enthusiastic alumni.
  2. Students who learn with and from others with backgrounds and experiences different from their own are best prepared to succeed in their chosen careers and become leaders in their diverse local and global communities.
  3. Faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds who enjoy professional support, receive mentorship, and have their identities affirmed report higher levels of job satisfaction and remain in their positions as devoted supporters of OHIO's mission and our diverse student body.

Aspirations

In pursuing these commitments, OHIO aspires to:

  • Build an intentional culture of inclusion to enhance the student experience.
  • Impact retention and address achievement gaps by ensuring the individual success and retention needs of an increasingly diverse student body are met.
  • Create an enriching academic experience by offering curricular and co-curricular experiences that expand civic engagement and cultural competency outcomes and promotes anti-racism.
  • Increase the diversity of faculty within the academic colleges and build an intentional culture of inclusion to enhance the experience of faculty and staff.
  • Achieve national recognition for inclusivity and positively impact our national rankings through improved student success and enhanced inclusion.

Principles that Inform Our Work at OHIO

We embrace principles that affirm the importance of pursuing our vision of inclusive excellence. We seek to foster student success and retention, encourage debate and dialogue, promote empathy, instill curiosity, broaden intercultural competence and awareness, and inspire a lifelong commitment to equity and racial understanding. Thus, our efforts will focus on the enhancement of research-based, campus-wide actions, initiatives, and structures that are coordinated and sustainable; and that together foster greater diversity, inclusion, equity, belonging, and shared accountability in every academic and administrative unit. Ohio University is committed to inclusive excellence as a guiding aim to foster a welcoming, respectful, supportive, equitable, and engaging learning environment in which all Bobcats can grow and thrive.

Embedded with our overarching commitment for inclusive excellence are core aims associated with equity; diversity and inclusion; and anti-racism.

Equity Aims

We will pursue initiatives centered on equity aims, which are grounded in ideals of universal fairness and access. In an equitable community, everyone has access to the resources and support systems they need to succeed. To ensure that all potential and current students, faculty, and staff at OHIO have such access, we must be intentional in identifying and addressing equity gaps for students, faculty, and staff while proactively reducing access barriers.

Diversity and Inclusion Goals

Correspondingly, our commitment to achieving diversity and inclusion goals is central to our mission. Diversity describes who we are, the many visible and invisible differences between and among the individuals, groups, and cultures that make up our communities. Specifically, diversity is inclusive of our different lived backgrounds and experiences, races, ethnic groups, genders, gender identities, sexualities, ages, national origins, cultures, socioeconomic classes, first-generation status, abilities and disabilities, familial status, veteran status, geographic regions and more; and our many perspectives and viewpoints, including those reflecting different political, as well as religious and spiritual beliefs. 

If diversity is what is, inclusion is what can be. Inclusion describes practices that affirm, encourage, and empower all members of our campus community in order to keep them feeling engaged, valued, and affirmed in their lived experiences. 

Anti-racism Strategies and Actions

Aligned with these core aims, we embrace anti-racism strategies and actions through which the University will challenge and counter inequalities, prejudices, and forms of discrimination based on race. We are mindful that being anti-racist is more than simply not being racist or being “non-racist.” Becoming an anti-racist community means we must take an unambiguous stand against racism in all its forms and do so with purpose, self-reflection, and intentionality. The goal of anti-racism is a key component of our vision to provide the nation’s best transformative learning experience.

With these foundations, our work pays particular attention to the ways in which some identities have been marginalized within higher education settings. In other words, our broad definition of diversity paves the way for a nuanced and targeted understanding of the ways in which individuals may be prevented from full participation and opportunities. Therefore, our operationalization of diversity as institutional practice aims to create space for a multitude of voices that may otherwise be excluded or sidelined.

Framework

The pursuits outlined in the Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan are closely aligned with Ohio University’s central mission – the intellectual and personal development of its students – and our vision of being the nation’s best transformative learning community. The plan’s mission and vision statements are outlined below: 

Vision Statement

Ohio University will be recognized as a national leader in our diversity and inclusion efforts defined by our innovative approaches to designing an inclusive curriculum and educational programming, enacting comprehensive recruitment and strategic communication strategies, supporting students, crafting campus-wide mentoring initiatives, and focusing on continuous assessment.

Mission Statement

Ohio University is committed to diversity through inclusive practices, policies, curricula, and programs that lead to a welcoming, respectful, supportive, and affirming environment; especially for those who have been marginalized.

Values

Compassion for all people, situations, backgrounds perspectives; Communication with transparent, respectful, and engaged dialogue; Collaboration to create a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment; Community connecting ideas and people across differences

Strategic Goals

Recruit and retain a diverse campus community, Create a sense of belonging for all, Re-imagine teaching and learning with inclusivity as a core design principle, Build a sustained commitment to data collection, analysis, dissemination, and continuous improvement

Inclusive Excellence at OHIO: A Timeline

Summer 2018

  • VP Secuban had initial meetings, upon arrival, with variety of campus and community constituents (alumni, faculty, staff and students) to assess DEI needs across the University

Spring 2019

  • Hosted inaugural Diversity Leadership Institute and gather feedback to inform the development of a framework for the D&I strategic plan

Summer 2019

  • Drafted strategic plan framework based on initial feedback received at the DLI

Fall 2019

  • Created a D&I Advisory Council including representative from across campus
  • Worked with D&I Advisory Council members to develop mission, vision, values, and formalize the strategic plan framework

Spring 2020

  • Conducted strategic plan framework feedback sessions for campus constituents

Summer 2020

  • Continued meetings with different constituency groups to garner feedback on the strategic plan framework and gather possible action items
  • Presented formal strategic plan framework to the President’s Council for feedback and approval

Fall 2020

  • Continued meetings with campus constituency groups to garner feedback on the strategic plan framework and gather potential campus-wide action items
  • Presented for approval revised framework to the D&I Advisory Council
  • Presented for approval revised framework and potential campus-wide action items to the President’s Council

Spring 2021

  • Conduct final round of feedback sessions with campus community on the plan's introduction and framework
  • Draft and present institution-level action items to President's Council for final approval
  • Present approved final strategic plan document to the Board of Trustees for final approval
  • Work with individual divisions, departments, and units to develop action items under each strategic goal 
  • Develop an Inclusive Excellence Dashboard to provide regular updates on the plan's progress