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Progress Report on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)


This report contains updates to college-wide DEI efforts since the August 27, 2020 report and the December 14, 2020 report. The report is issued quarterly and includes but is not limited to the College’s actions to address specific Demands from the Black Student Union and Indigenous Student Association.


For a PDF version of this progress report, click here.


President’s Office


Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & Strategy job search
Vice President for Advancement Zanne Garland is chairing the search committee to select the inaugural Vice President for DEI & Strategy. Nine candidates interviewed online with the search committee. Subsequently, six candidates met with College President Lynn M. Morton, Ph.D., and Dr. Daleah Goodwin, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives and Professor of History, in order to determine three finalists to connect with the campus community. The three finalists had virtual on-campus interviews during the weeks of March 22nd and March 29th, including sessions with groups such as Cabinet and the DEI Advisory Committee and open sessions with the community—students, faculty, and staff. 


Campus-wide Deliberative Dialogue Day
295 students, staff, faculty, and administrators participated in a campus-wide Deliberative Dialogue on January 29th. The event focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, with topics and breakout sessions taken directly from the Black Student Union (BSU) Demands: Racism 101, Cultural Competency, Implicit Bias, and Reparations. A summary report of the event can be accessed HERE

Campus-wide Caucusing
After careful consideration, the DEI Advisory Committee has determined that it is best to postpone campus-wide Caucusing (as stated in the 2020 BSU Demands and revised September 2020) until Fall 2021. The incoming Vice President of DEI & Strategy will have expertise in how to oversee this complex and critical event and will ensure that it is a deeply meaningful process for our campus community.


The Cabinet met with the DEI Advisory Committee in February to discuss and update the Committee about their progress on enacting recommendations from the listening sessions.


Cabinet members and the President have set individual DEI goals in their annual evaluations, a practice newly instated this year.


The College completed Phase One of the Appalachian College Association and Credo DEI project (Project Promise) funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, and we are awaiting news on funding for Phase Two. President Morton and Vice President for Advancement Zanne Garland are taking the lead on applying to and reporting back to the funder on this collaboration. Their initial small grant went toward supporting the work of the DEI Advisory Committee.


Next steps:
As a follow-up to conversations between the Indigenous Student Association (ISA), Student Life, and Academic Affairs last December, President Morton has reached out to the representatives from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, on whose original home the College stands, to build relationships and discuss possible next steps for a Land Acknowledgement. 



Academic Affairs


January Faculty Retreat

The January all-faculty retreat included a focus on DEI. A progress report and presentation on the DEI departmental engagement plans was shared by Dr. Daleah Goodwin. In addition, specific workshops included inclusive language use, teaching proactively, and building safe spaces for difficult conversations in class.


Community Conversation with Sky Sampson on Indigenous Identity and Inclusion
In response to the Indigenous Student Association Demands, on March 11th Academic Affairs hosted a presentation and conversation with Sky Sampson, Director of the Cherokee Center at Western Carolina University for all faculty and staff to learn about Indigenous identity and inclusive education. Approximately 95 faculty and staff attended. 


Faculty annual reports and DEI
All faculty complete an annual report and self-evaluation on their teaching, scholarship and creative activity, and service to the life of the College. To make clear the expectation that all faculty engage in DEI work, we now ask all faculty to reflect and report on this work following several new prompts in their annual self-evaluation narrative. The results of these responses (disaggregated and anonymized) will offer us a more comprehensive understanding of the work faculty are doing and where they need more support.


Faculty/Professional DEI book groups
We are again running Faculty/Professional Learning Communities on the book group model. For Spring 2021, we are reading Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. We are offering six groups, including one specifically for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) faculty and staff. To date, we have had 110 participants, including 54 faculty and 28 staff who are new to the groups. 


Required search reports from Academic Affairs open positions
The Vice President for Academic Affairs now requires every search within the division to submit a report at the end of the process that details efforts the committee has made to increase the diversity of the search pool of candidates. This has taken place for currently concluded (or nearly concluded) searches for the Business Department, Garden/Farm, and the Library. 


Next steps:
Review and follow up of faculty Annual Review DEI prompts: Every faculty member was asked to respond to specific DEI prompts on the Annual Report form. This spring and early summer, Academic Affairs will review those responses, follow up where needed, and generate a summary report. 


Final review and follow-up on Departmental Engagement Plans: All academic departments have received feedback on their preliminary DEI engagement plans. Final engagement plans will be submitted at the end of this academic year. These final plans will be reviewed by Academic Affairs and the newly appointed Vice President of DEI & Strategy, and specific assessment plans and follow-up report structures will be created for each department to ensure tracking and progress toward stated goals. 


Summer Anti-Racist Teaching Re-Think Tank: Dr. Goodwin, Gary Hawkins (Director of the Center for Faculty Innovation & Excellence), and Namita Wiggers (Director of the Master’s in Critical Craft Studies) are designing a summer Anti-Racist Teaching Re-Think Tank for faculty. Over the course of multiple sessions, faculty will inquire into and challenge current curricular and pedagogical assumptions and understand how to recognize, revise, and rethink the impact of these long-held assumptions. They will examine anti-racist frameworks and learn practical ways to make changes in their teaching. They will offer support and accountability toward redesigned courses and changed practices. Details and dates for the program are coming soon.



Applied Learning


Work Program
In response to the BSU Demand requesting mandatory workplace cultural competency training for all students in the Work Program, a group of students and staff from the Work Program developed a training process that would meet the request, be repeatable, and most importantly deliver meaningful content. This group included members of the Alma Shippy Coalition (Campo Larrick and Sally Thames), the BSU (Bry Thompson), and the Associate Dean of Work Paul Bobbitt. 


Date of Training Anticipated Participation Actual Participation
February 18th  161 152
February 25th 173 147
March 4th 151 174


Next steps:
The planning group will reconvene for a debrief session in the next few weeks to determine highlights and challenges. The group plans for future workplace training sessions to be held once every semester. 


This semester, the Work Program will also determine appropriate supervisor training opportunities, with a focus on the fall Supervisor Retreat. We will incorporate into that planning direct feedback from supervisors as to what they need, based on their experiences with these training sessions.



Community Engagement
In response to the BSU Demand for more connections with the local community, The Center for Community Engagement has further expanded partnerships with organizations led by and/or serving BIPOC communities. In the Spring 2021 semester, Bonner Leader students are serving weekly with UMOJA Health and Wellness, El Centro, and the Education Garden Project. 


Bonner Leaders have been working on projects with the Engage 2.0 Program, led by Nicole Barnes in the Center for Integrated Advising & Careers (CIAC). Engage 2.0 is a mentor program that helps BIPOC students build community and camaraderie, at a predominately White institution, through programming, educational workshops, and BIPOC staff/faculty mentorship.


Next steps:
A team of Bonner Leaders will begin conversations with on-campus BIPOC communities this term to explore bridges and barriers to community engagement. Their goal is to increase participation for Fall 2021, when we anticipate in-person community engagement will resume.


The Center for Community Engagement was sad to say goodbye to former Assistant Director Jeremy Lett ’17. The Center for Community Engagement is committed to identifying candidates for this opening (search in progress) who will share Jeremy and the Center’s commitment to cultivating partnerships with BIPOC communities and supporting the Bonner Leaders Program. 


Career Development and Internships 
The summer internship stipend information packet and application have been changed to state that applications from students who express high financial need and/or identify as members of BIPOC communities will have prioritized consideration. In addition, a narrated slide deck and the option for video applications were added. 


A crew member is currently culling through the department’s website to revise our career resources and language accessibility. They have also added more BIPOC-focused resources to our job search page. 


Career Development and Alumni Relations co-hosted a Career Conversation Panel in February focusing on Social and Racial Justice. 


Next steps:
Implement the internship selection process mentioned above. The goal is to increase (over previous years) the number of BIPOC students who receive stipends. Priority will also be given to supporting BIPOC-led and serving organizations.


Integrated Advising
All members of the Integrated Advising team developed personal DEI plans that were reviewed with the Associate Dean of Integrated Learning in early January 2021. Staff evaluations on individual DEI plan progress will take place in the Spring. 


On February 25th, CIAC hosted a panel of four Black alumni, giving specific attention to their experiences as Students of Color at Warren Wilson College.


Next steps:
The Integrated Advising team will read/review resources on the topics of white supremacy culture, advising Black students at a predominately White institution, and first-generation college students. Following this review, we will examine our workbooks, orientation program, standardized communications, onboarding of new Integrated Advising Coaches, and WWC Connect outreach through these lenses to develop goals/action plans, which we will implement beginning in June 2021.



Student Life


Each department in Student Life is working to increase their ability to track BIPOC student attendance and engagement in their programs and services, in order to help assess whether BIPOC students’ needs are being met by Student Life. 


The Vice President for Student Life and Associate Dean for Student Engagement met with representatives from the BSU, Latinx Student Collective (LSC), and ISA to learn more about the BSU Demand for a new BIPOC Student Center space.


Next steps:
While considerations for new spaces are underway, the Vice President and Associate Dean will work with Facilities to address reported issues with existing spaces. 



Wilson Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (WIDE) 
The WIDE Crew and the BSU facilitated many events during Black History Month such as Black Jeopardy, a Candlelight Vigil, and a bonfire, to lift up the Black Community and support students. 


Next steps:
The search for a permanent Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to lead the WIDE Office was posted on March 14th, and a committee is currently forming. Interviews are scheduled for the end of April.



Counseling Center
The Counseling Center has been tracking the implementation and usage of Warren Wilson Telehealth, a program that was implemented partly in response to the BSU Demands for increased access to BIPOC counselors. Overall utilization increased for all students.


In partnership with the Alma Shippy Coalition, the Counseling Center planned, hosted, and facilitated Coping Skills Workshops for BIPOC students. These workshops will continue to be offered on a regular basis.


WWC Counseling staff have engaged in several professional development opportunities and training sessions on BIPOC-specific topics. These have included a campus book group, various webinars on topics ranging from equitable access in healthcare to antiracist practice, a therapist training in DEI, and events, as well as facilitating a “safer spaces” panel.





Funding for DEI efforts
Background on DEI funding: Currently, DEI efforts are funded through separate division-specific budget lines, WIDE’s budget, the Mellon endowed fund, as well as the President’s Discretionary Fund. When the new Vice President for DEI & Strategy comes on board in the summer of 2021, they will work with the President to create and manage a dedicated operational budget line for DEI work. While fundraising bolsters funding for our College’s DEI work, the institution will also prioritize creating a new, centralized dedicated budget regardless of fundraising in this area for the 2021-22 academic year under the direction of the new Vice President for DEI & Strategy. 


The Advancement Office will promote options for donors to give to unrestricted funds, toward WIDE, to add to endowed scholarships for Students of Color, and to underwrite current institutional DEI work in addition to supporting community-based organizations as a part of the “All-In for WWC Giving Day” on April 15. 


As a component of the proposed comprehensive campaign, currently in the planning stage, we have included a significant goal to increase funded capacity for DEI program work and scholarships. If the planning study goes well, fundraising for the campaign will launch in the 2021-22 academic year. 



We worked with faculty to help draft and implement the new merit definition, now finalized through the Faculty Body, to have an inclusive, consistent understanding of how to evaluate students eligible for named, endowed scholarships. Advancement will work with Student Life and students to determine the selection process and select the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship recipient for the 2021-22 academic year.



Community Relations
The office held webinars focused on increasing engagement among external stakeholders with diverse speakers on a variety of topics including racism, history, green entrepreneurship, mentorship, and craft this semester. Webinars included the history-focused Bitter Southerner article highlighting Drs. Jeff Keith and Kevin Kehrberg’s research for the webinar in January and the arts-focused Mentor/Mentee webinar focusing on Dr. Lara Nguyen’s mentorship of three alumni in March. The team met with Reid Carpenter, the lead student in the Communications and Outreach Committee of the Alma Shippy Coalition to discuss increasing student involvement in upcoming webinars and to get feedback regarding inclusion as we move forward in planning campus-wide events like Homecoming and Family Weekend.


Next steps:
We will work to involve interested students in the April 15 Green Entrepreneurship webinar featuring Nia Evans and James Vamboi Jr. of the Ujima Project and other upcoming webinars and events. 



Department DEI goals and accountability
Staff members have revised and resubmitted the team’s goals to the DEI Initiatives Advisory Committee for academic years 2020-21 and 2021-22. The team has read and discussed How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi as part of regular monthly DEI sessions.



Relationship building and leadership diversity
The Trustee Governance Committee prioritized increasing diversity at the February Board meeting — not only through focusing efforts on recruiting candidates of color but also through investigating and changing practices and barriers toward achieving greater diversity and inclusion on the Board.


Next steps:
The committee is continuing to build relationships and nominate candidates of color now to measurably increase volunteer leaders of color in our Board of Trustees, Alumni Board, and Families of Wilson Council in the upcoming 2021-22 academic year.



Alma Mater
The committee has met three times and worked with the President to send a message to the campus, retiree, and alumni communities regarding the initiation of the process of decolonizing the College’s Alma Mater. They reviewed community feedback and narrowed the lyric revisions to a “top two” in order to send a survey out to the broader community to include community-wide feedback in the decision making process.


Next steps:
survey went out in March, and the goal is for the committee to make a final decision with community input on new lyrics replacing the colonizing language in April.



Enrollment and Marketing


The Enrollment & Marketing Division presented their 2020-21 Division DEI Goals to the DEI Advisory Committee and is now revising them based on that feedback. The Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Admissions (IDEA) working group also finished prioritizing their list of further DEI recommendations for the division, laying the groundwork for our 2021-2022 DEI Goals and DEI Strategic Plan.


The division has completed three training and learning sessions since our last report, including sessions on implicit bias, inclusive communication, and antiracism. 


Over the past few months, the division has increased cross-departmental access to Admissions data (Registrar, CIAC) to facilitate a smoother process for students navigating between departments, allowing everyone to better assist students and be on the same page. One example of this is sharing the database designation for first-generation college students with CIAC so that they can create more tailored advising and support for these students.


Next steps:
As a division, we selected two external DEI training opportunities for all of our staff: the Racial Equity Institute’s (REI) Groundwater training to learn more about antiracism and systemic racism and the Hood Huggers tour of the East End-Valley Street neighborhood of downtown Asheville to learn more about our local racial context and history. Both will occur in May.


The division is extending additional external DEI training opportunities to individual staff members, and these programs will further target specific areas of their work. These will tentatively include advanced REI training programs, the National Association of College Admission Counseling’s Antiracism Education Institute and their Guiding the Way to Inclusion Conference, and Building Bridges Asheville training programs. 


The Marketing Department is conducting an ongoing website rewrite for inclusion and accessibility. One upcoming priority will be a webpage to help first-generation college students through the admission process, and it should complement our efforts to better advise and support these students.



Finance & Administration and Human Resources


The division is focused on communication and adherence of equitable application of processes and practices within each department. Financial Aid and Student Accounts are working together to ensure communications to students from both areas are handled consistently.


The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Belinda Burke and her direct reports (Controller, Directors of HR, ITS, Public Safety, Facilities, Financial Aid, and the Swannanoa Gathering, and Executive Assistant) had several DEI dialogue sessions together since December. The division held a training and discussion session regarding implicit biases that was facilitated by HR Business Partner Stephanie Johnson. Other division dialogue sessions covered Deliberative Dialogue Day and the topics it covered, racism on campus, racist incidents that occurred around the country, and campus culture.



Human Resources (HR):
HR has been working with departments to identify various locations to post positions that will provide more diverse candidate pools, and many have specific position posting options within their disciplines. Additionally, HR has updated the Equal Employment Opportunity statement that is included on every position posting (aligning with our Strategic Plan): Warren Wilson College is committed to a culture of educational access and ensuring that students and employees from a diverse range of identities and experiences will thrive in this community. Warren Wilson College is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.


HR is currently reviewing search and selection practices. They are identifying a new guide to distribute that outlines how to conduct a fair and equitable search, behavioral interview question guidelines, what NOT to ask, explanations of biases, etc. Expected completion date: April 2021, and then HR will hold Google Meet sessions to conduct training on the new documents with the community. For current searches, HR Business Partner Stephanie Johnson will share the information with committees.


Next steps:
HR will audit the current Employee Handbook related to College-wide policies and procedures to ensure equitable and consistent application by June 30, 2021.



Public Safety:
De-escalation training was identified by the BSU as an area of training for Public Safety. In March 2021, Public Safety incorporated an online de-escalation training module that is facilitated by The National Center for Campus Public Safety. This training discusses techniques (emotional labeling, active listening, validating feelings, etc.) for how to de-escalate emotionally charged situations, both before they happen and as they take place. 


Next steps:
Public Safety will better use the existing partnership with Student Life to assist students experiencing a mental health crisis. They will partner with both Student Life and the Counseling Center to better understand and put into practice the ways that students in crisis can receive assistance with a multi-faceted response that includes Public Safety and the other departments’ staff.



Information Technology (ITS):
ITS is currently working with the Queer Resource Center to address problems caused by a recent update to our student information database—the update created difficulties in displaying names and pronouns correctly for our students.

ITS is working to improve data accuracy and reporting in order to assist with trend analysis as it applies to various student populations. For example, comparing first-generation college students to all others in various areas such as retention. 





During January, February, and March, the Athletics and Adventure Sports Department  staff members received a “return on inclusion” training with six modules that included diversity, inclusion, and belonging foundations; cultural competence and managing relationships; overcoming bias and decoding microaggressions; unpacking racism, antiracism, and privilege; LGBTQIA+ inclusion and gender stereotypes; and inclusive leadership and strategic plan development. Some staff members are also currently in the process of taking “Anti-Black Racism: History, Ideology, and Resistance,” a course sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh, which will be completed by April.


In response to a BSU Demand, the Outdoor Program is currently working with the BSU to offer a hike and a s’mores night as two separate events for Students of Color. The date has yet to be decided. 


Student Athletes are now wearing a patch on their uniforms and other gear with the Unity Pledge logo from the NCAA. The logo symbolizes a commitment to create unity on our teams, campus, and in our community, “to stand against racism, hate, and discrimination.” 


Next steps:
After the “return on inclusion” modules are completed, the Athletic Department will create concrete steps to transform this learning into action. 

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