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ACEJMC Diversity Standard as Institutional Model

February 29, 2016

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

On March 3, I will lead a Greenlee School team in a presentation titled “Creating and Promoting a Diversity Plan” at the Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE).

ISCORE will showcase presentations throughout the day to advance climate and sensitivity to cultural differences. The conference is meant to be practical, providing tools that others can use at the workplace.

As ASJMC viewers won’t be at the conference, I will share our presentation here.

I became director at Greenlee in 2003 after a tumultuous time in my unit. Some of the discord was race-based. You can search the history with a few operative words in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In sum, climate had to be addressed quickly for the common good.

I was installed as chair of the first Diversity Committee of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences here. I shared with my team ACEJMC’s standard calling for a stand-alone diversity plan. I wondered whether any of the 20-odd departments had such a plan or mentioned diversity in its mission statement and strategic plan.

We produced a report titled “A Clear, Accountable Commitment to Diversity,” surveying units to see what, specifically, was proposed by policy and shared governance of the faculty.

The results were underwhelming:

• 35% of mission statements mentioned diversity.
• 55% mentioned diversity in strategic plans.
• 15% had stand-alone diversity plan or policy.

Some people believe stand-alone plans, such as required by ACEJMC, are window dressing. That was the belief then in the College. Nothing can be further from the truth. To hold supervisors accountable, a plan has to be in place via shared governance so that the faculty and staff have a voice in shaping and applying policy—often in the annual review of the department chair, director or dean. Moreover, that stand-alone plan should be integrated with mission statement and strategic plan, again as ACEJMC recommends.

In creating the ISCORE presentation, I surveyed the College again with the help of multicultural officers. We asked these questions:

1. Does your department have a mission statement? (If no, go to #4)
2. Is diversity mentioned in your mission statement?
3. Is your mission statement public with a link on your departmental home page?
4. Does your department have a strategic plan? (If no, go to #7)
5. Is diversity mentioned in your strategic plan?
6. Is your strategic plan public with a link on your departmental home page?
7. Does your department have a diversity plan independent of your mission statement and/or strategic plan? (If no, do not answer #8)
8. Is your diversity plan public with a link on your departmental home page?

(You might try surveying your own college or institution using that instrument.)

Once more, our College results were underwhelming. (See graph below.)


Thus, I am hoping that the ISCORE presentation and handouts, which I am still preparing, will resurrect our 2003 recommendations based on ACEJMC’s standards on diversity. I already visited with our newly installed Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion to gain support for an institutional mandate requiring every ISU program include a statement about diversity in its mission and strategic plan and also devise a stand-alone plan that requires an annual report.

If each unit did this at any institution, those reports will filter up to the top diversity officer who will get a snapshot of campus climate. She or he can then address climate issues more effectively and proactively.

What do you think?


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