Measuring success of the diversity framework

by Sandra Kinzer

A diversity framework unveiled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in April focuses on increasing diversity on campus over time. It’s one in a series of frameworks since the 1980s–this one seeks to continue the growth in minority groups and leadership on campus.

The framework will be used by six different committees made up of students and staff and faculty. It includes suggestions for initiatives from effective recruitment of diverse faculty to engaging leaders on campus in diversity and inclusion. The committees plan to review progress each year.

But will the school recognize progress?

“When we start seeing those numbers move,” said Sue Robinson, a professor in the journalism school who studies racial justice and citizen journalism. By numbers, she means the graduation rates, incarceration rates and unemployment rates of people of color, referring to the city in general.

The university’s new diversity framework seeks to move those numbers.

The framework is organized into “initiatives,” and success of those is measured by, for example, improved retention rates of diverse faculty, or increase of recognition and support for non-traditional students.

Ruby Paredes (photo from campus photo library)

Ruby Paredes is assistant vice chancellor and interim associate vice provost for diversity and climate. (Campus photo library)

Ruby Paredes, assistant vice chancellor and interim associate vice provost for diversity and climate, said she hopes the diversity framework will increase the number of minority students and faculty year by year, even if by a small percent.

There have been multiple diversity frameworks in the university’s history. The first came in 1988, when there was a call for the university to formally address inequity.

“There were incidents on campus that were really egregious,” said Paredes.

One of the worst, Paredes notes, was a fraternity mock slave auction, which emphasized the need for a response to racist activities and attitudes on the campus.

The resulting initiatives, called the Madison Plan, was the first diversity plan among national higher education institutions.

The following frameworks, one in 1993 and one in 1998, each outlined recommendations for a certain number of years, and when that time was up, the committees decided to renew or create a fresh plan.  

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