Incremental change is no longer adequate; we must make institutional transformation through bold deliberate actions. We must take this opportunity to think deeply about how best to move forward. In previous diversity planning cycles, we have been more comprehensive. Moving forward, we must be more strategic and more focused on movement at the Challenge level. In order to successfully integrate diversity into overall unit operations, including diversity planning, diversity must be approached holistically, avoiding the temptation to focus on one part, one aspect, or one group’s or position’s contribution to diversity; diversity integration needs to occur by pursuing a trajectory of diversity enhancement throughout, not just by developing a collection of isolated goals. Responsibility for diversity goals should not be compartmentalized. Diversity, equity, and inclusion must be a core value of the University and a specific priority to be implemented. Diversity planning must remain as a focused effort and not lost amid the general strategic planning process.
We must design a University strategic planning process that builds upon the foundation established through A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State; that enables future review and assessment of progress regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion; that captures the right data (intelligent metrics); that is based on good strategic planning practices; and that emphasizes evidence and outcomes over anecdotal platitudes. There must be accountability and there must be resources.
The Review Team recommendations below outline necessary and essential elements needed in order to truly advance the Diversity and Demographics imperative through a strategic planning approach. The quotations are drawn directly from the Observations and Recommendations prepared by each team.
Align diversity planning and overall strategic planning more closely
“The Framework process was well thought out, but we need a better process for balancing diversity and overall strategic planning.”
- Strategic planning in general needs to be more rigorous and diversity must be included with specificity and accountability. Plans should be used actively as roadmaps for the operational culture of the University and units, respectively.
- Clearer guidelines are needed for incorporating diversity and clear, specific expectations for planning, implementation, reporting, and assessment. The specificity of the previous Framework planning and reporting expectations had been effective and should continue.
- Plans must address diversity structurally to advance diversity systemically and systematically; addressing scattered strategic initiatives has not been effective.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be incorporated in the next University strategic plan as both a crosscutting principle and a strategic priority to ensure institutional transformation.
Ensure more robust guidance, effective infrastructure, and support for strategic planning, and for effectively incorporating diversity planning
“Like teaching someone to hit the bull’s-eye, but they're not even hitting the target yet.”
- Diversity planning should be an ongoing process with regular updates, progress assessments, and accountability for progress.
- More information and training—including how-to, basics of strategic planning, characteristics of effective plans, inclusive planning processes, assessment strategies, implementation strategies, responsibility matrix, accountability, and University expectations—should be provided to units on a more consistent basis. Consider an online planning toolkit to help facilitate unit planning and effective incorporation of diversity into unit strategic plans. Some sort of template is necessary for consistency.
- Retain the Framework’s seven Challenges to structure diversity planning.
- Minimum standards and expectations for planning processes and use of data are needed.
- Accountability, support, and resources for improvement are necessary for units not engaging in effective planning at an acceptable level; recommend units work collaboratively with OPIA and Educational Equity. Units that have worked closely with Educational Equity and/or OPIA have tended to have a better grasp of diversity strategic planning and thus stronger plans.
- More leadership involvement in the diversity planning process and accountability in setting expectations for diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence is needed.
- Unit planning should be led by designated unit planning coordinators who are well trained in planning and diversity planning. Key players who can pull multiple levers of power and are intrinsically invested in diversity and inclusion must be at the forefront of planning.
- Processes should be streamlined to take less time but produce better results, with better support and resources for those engaged in coordinating planning.
- Better availability of and use of data is essential.
- Review Team members should be leveraged within their units and across the University for their insight and expertise to advocate for diversity and enhance the impact of the process, guiding units through the planning period.
Leap from strategic planning to implementation and outcomes via focus on evidence-based planning, metrics, outcomes, and accountability
“Diversity has been a strategic priority for the University since the mid-1990s, yet there has been an embarrassing lack of progress.”
- Focus unit and University assessment and accountability on the most important outcomes.
- Focus on metrics, evidence and outcomes is necessary for improvement and institutionalization.
- Create better mechanisms to identify, understand, and track implementation of best practices from national and institutional contexts.
- Promote and incentivize a “race to the top” culture built around better leveraging best practices for diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence.
Ensure greater accountability for reaching diversity, equity, and inclusion goals at both the University and the unit level
“Minimum expectations must be raised.”
- Unit executives must be accountable to the University and must hold members of their unit accountable for acceptable levels of progress regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- In strategic planning, units must be held accountable to address all of the areas requested by the University and to maintain alignment between University unit priorities.
- Alignment of diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence priorities within University priorities must translate into action.
- Units with poor plans and/or outcomes should work specifically with OPIA and Educational Equity for guidance and improvement.
Create a better overall institutional approach to data to drive enhanced diversity planning, implementation, assessment, and outcomes
“It is clear that there are widespread struggles with data in unit plans, especially as it relates to diversity.”
- Intelligent metrics and evidence-based planning are a must to advance diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence.
- Clearer expectations and more guidance on recommended data and how to use those data for implementation strategies and reporting are needed.
- Diversity data should be more readily available to units, and more widely used by units and the University.
- Each unit should have a diversity metrics position whose job it is to monitor, collect, and report diversity data in support of unit Framework implementation. Funding should be made available to create such positions where they do not exist.
- Checking in on outcomes more often than every five years might encourage regular data collection in support of evidence-based planning and implementation. Attention must still be given to diversity populations for which hard data are not available (e.g., LGBT, disabilities, religion, etc.)
Cultivate a University-wide shared understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion in relation to institutional viability and vitality
“Continue the conversation to heighten the awareness of the importance of diversity.”
- Create an institutional culture that engages in ongoing discussions of the positive benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion in relation to University values and priorities.
- A University-wide diversity definition or statement, overarching to the unit definitions, is needed.
- The institutional understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence should be reflected in the University Style Guide and demonstrated in communications strategies at all levels.
- Greater capacity for leveraging the positive benefits of diversity and creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive University environment is needed across all staff, faculty, and administration.
University level expectations, actions, and resources are necessary for institutional transformation
“Diversity as an ‘unfunded mandate’ and ‘volunteer activity’ will never be successful.”
- Diversity strategic planning and outcomes must be linked to consistent and enduring financial and other resources in order to be actualized as a University imperative. (Challenge 7)
- Resource allocation is necessary for launching or expanding priority programs. (Challenge 7)
- While campus locations appear to make use of available resources, achieving diversity and inclusion goals can be particularly difficult and would benefit from University level resources. (Challenge 7)
- Diversifying University leadership (Challenge 6) is particularly difficult and requires a University level commitment.
- Curricular changes are difficult to achieve and would benefit from University level resources and expectations, including from the University Faculty Senate and Graduate Council. (Challenge 5)
- A comprehensive array of strong and effective initiatives is needed to increase diversity of faculty and staff (Challenge 4) and administration and leadership. (Challenge 6)
- Commitment to diversity must appear strongly and consistently across top level University documentation and processes such as institutional values, vision, mission statement, Human Resources competencies and staff performance management, faculty promotion and tenure expectations, and communications strategies. Currently it does not.
Leverage executive leadership for institutional transformation
“In-depth reflection on the conceptual underpinnings of diversity and inclusion would be useful for Academic Leadership Council and President’s Council.”
- Implement “orientation” for executives, administrators, and academic administrators which, among other things, specifically and thoroughly addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion goals for Penn State and expectations for unit participation, as well as existing strategic plans and feedback, including diversity planning and feedback.
- Regularly engage University executives in conversations about the importance of diversity and inclusion, and progress.
- Focus on the positive benefits to the University of achieving a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence.