Rutgers renewed its commitment to develop a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment through a new plan released Wednesday that lays out concrete steps toward a university that models inclusive excellence.
The university’s first diversity strategic plan, announced in a message from President Jonathan Holloway to the Rutgers community, identifies five key priorities: developing a diverse community, promoting inclusive scholarship, defining substantive community engagement, building capacity for inclusive climates and developing the infrastructure to drive change.
“A commitment to inclusive excellence is reflected throughout the plan,” Holloway said, noting Rutgers Forward: University Diversity Strategic Plan is the result of several months of audits, surveys, conversations and consultations among numerous community members. “It is a credit to the dedicated individuals from across Rutgers who have worked so hard to answer the challenge of redefining how and where we find excellence.”
The 75-page plan sets the groundwork to recruit, retain and develop a university community that more closely reflects the state of New Jersey, paying particular attention to underrepresented populations among students, faculty and staff. It also calls for valuing and supporting research and teaching that advances an understanding of diversity, inclusion, equity and access. Providing professional development opportunities in cultural competency, seeking new approaches to engaging with local communities and establishing metrics to measure progress across the university are among the goals the plan set to achieve the priorities.
“The university diversity strategic plan reflects an honest assessment of where we are and a commitment to what we will do to chart a more inclusive path forward for Rutgers,” said Enobong (Anna) Branch, senior vice president for equity and professor of sociology. “This plan serves as a unified roadmap sharing chancellor-led unit goals and actions. We are determined to show through our actions that our institutional commitment to diversity is more than just words. We are building a beloved community.”
The plan, supported by University Equity and Inclusion, includes goals set by each chancellor-led area – Rutgers-New Brunswick, Rutgers-Newark, Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences – and actions to reach them.
Holloway said the plan also documents efforts that existed before the strategic planning process began and will strengthen and expand successful programs while coordinating them with new efforts. He noted the plan’s development coincides with significant new commitments at the university, including:
- the launch of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice with a $15 million grant from the Mellon Foundation;
- $45 million in funding for the President’s Faculty Diversity Initiative to increase the percentage of faculty from underrepresented backgrounds and to support their success; and
- the Rutgers Equity Alliance for Community Health (REACH) funded by a $10 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to leverage university resources to better support the health needs of host communities.
The university’s diversity strategic plan is released at a pivotal time in higher education as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear challenges to the constitutionality of affirmative action in college admissions decisions. It is why Rutgers must redouble efforts to ensure that the university maintains and expands its commitment to diversity among faculty, staff and students, the president said.
“Excellence can be found everywhere; I know that to be true,” Holloway said. “But we have to look for it, we have to nurture and cultivate it, we have to remove barriers to it and we have to reward and celebrate it throughout the university. This strategic plan is Rutgers’ declaration that we will."