Arcadia Community Advances ABRI Efforts

By Caitlin Burns | May 26, 2021

Through its community of practice, Arcadia has made facilitating a safe and welcoming environment for Black students a priority and has progressed significantly in its Anti-Black Racism Initiatives (ABRI) efforts, which President Ajay Nair implemented last June.

The six action steps presented by President Nair tasks the ABRI team with over three dozen initiatives that advance Arcadia in its mission to make the University a more welcoming and inclusive place for all students. During a Spring Conversations event with the campus community, the ABRI team presented on the interconnectedness of the University community through the campus-wide e orts to combat anti-Black racism. Topics discussed during the Spring Conversations include a variety of ways to support students throughout their Arcadia journey, including the addition of a position in Counseling Services to support students of color; and the need for change in Arcadia’s climate and culture.

Additional efforts have yielded:
• The fall 2020 launch of the Living Our Values Experience (LOVE) Pilot program, developed by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring (CTLM).  e program is a space for Arcadia students to explore issues of identity, racism, and systemic discrimination and to examine their roles within society as change agents.
• Through Arcadia’s Community of Practice, community members have explored individual identity, white privilege, and systemic racism through education, mentorship, and modeling behavior. Approximately 125 University community members, including faculty, staff, and trustees, are engaged in University-hosted personal and professional explorations, meeting throughout the fall and spring semesters. In addition, more than 50 faculty and staff persons of color have met weekly for community formation and mutual support.
• Enrollment Management (EM) has established an Enrollment Advisory Board to help recruit and matriculate a more diverse student body. Enrollment strategies are focused on building relationships with local minority community leaders within Philadelphia, Cheltenham, and Montgomery Counties. Arcadia also has signed an agreement to participate in the Coalition for Change, broadening its reach into diverse communities across the country. EM also is teaming with Alumni Engagement to help support an improved campus climate for students of color that encourages persistence to graduation.
• Alumni Engagement is working to support ethnically and culturally based affinity groups.
• Human Resources is improving policies and practices related to hiring and retaining diverse staff and faculty, and is developing a Strategic Employer Relations Plan with a specific focus on underrepresented faculty and staff. For example, University Advancement has tripled the number of diverse professionals on its team.
•  The ABRI Committee, initially begun by Academic Affairs, has grown to include Human Resources, the College of Global Studies, and the Office of Social Impact and Innovation. This group of project managers is overseeing and documenting the progress we are making in moving our ABRI forward.
• Departments in the STEM fields have formed task forces to support students of color by surveying them to better understand their needs, connecting them to research, and revisiting their vision statements to make them more inclusive.
• A working group formed to diversify recruitment and retention of faculty and sta has reviewed and is proposing specific actions to increase diversity in faculty recruitment, retain current faculty and staff of color, and search for positions such as a therapist specifically qualified to support Black students, and a senior-level position focused on local, national, and global issues of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, civic engagement, and learning.
•  The Living and Learning group is working to create theme-based residential programs with a targeted start date of fall 2021.
• Arcadia Purchasing is expanding Arcadia’s partnerships with Black-owned businesses and vendors, while Career Education is increasing the representation of Black-owned businesses.
• MarCom is creating a more inclusive brand strategy for Arcadia. This initiative is currently focused on four specific areas of inclusiveness: brand, identity, systems and guidelines, and content strategy.

For more information, visit Anti-Black Racism Initiatives.