Progress on University ABRI Initiatives

By Daniel DiPrinzio | November 5, 2021
Dear Arcadia Community,

 

Today’s forum was a great way to share the interconnectedness and progress of our campus-wide efforts to combat anti-Black racism. As you know, President Nair announced action steps to support, protect, and improve the Arcadia experience. The 40 initiatives represent an essential and complex mix of efforts that will require sustained focus, collaboration, and courage.  

 

The Project Management Group, made up of committed faculty and staff, has been tasked to move our Anti-Black Racism Initiatives (ABRI) forward, paying particular attention to multi-faceted supports for students, recruitment and retention of faculty and staff, curricular infusion, programming and partnerships, and the possible creation of a related academic center. 

 

Arcadia’s ABRI impact all members of our University community—from prospective and current students, to faculty and staff, alumni to leadership, and to our donors, friends, and neighbors. Since President Nair first announced Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) and ABRI as our focus, we have collaborated to advance and develop our initiatives with an eye toward action. While our work continues, we would like to provide a synthesized update to share some of Arcadia’s progress to date.
  • In Fall 2020, we launched the Living Our Values Experience (LOVE) program, developed by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring (CTLM). The program is a space for Arcadia students to explore issues of identity, racism, and systemic discrimination, and to examine their role within society as change agents.
  • Our Civic Scholars program, led by the Office of Social Impact and Innovation (SI2), offers a training ground and serves as an incubator for students in any major to learn about social advocacy and how to put such efforts into practice in the world beyond college.
  • The University is proud of its commitment to diversity in leadership, including with our Board of Trustees, which has added four trustees of African descent, and the President’s Cabinet. 
  • Through our Community of Practice, we 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 weekly throughout the fall semester. 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. Our enrollment strategies are focused on building relationships with local minority community leaders within Philadelphia, Cheltenham, and Montgomery County. In addition, we have signed an agreement to participate in the Coalition for Change, broadening our reach into diverse communities across the U.S., and completed the diversification of student Ambassadors beginning with this semester’s recruitment cycle. 
  • 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 now grown to include Human Resources, the College of Global Studies, and SI2. This group of project managers is overseeing and documenting the progress we are making in moving our ABRI forward. It has formed working groups of faculty, staff, students, and alumni from across the University and has made progress on numerous fronts, including:
    • Project Managers tasked with establishing a Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity held open community meetings to gather input on what such a Center should look like. A working group has been formed to go through the responses and start visualizing the Center.
    • 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.
    • The working group formed to diversify recruitment and retention of faculty and staff 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.
    • Enhancing our diversity programming, lectures, forums, and events on race and anti-Black racism, including hosting author Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, facilitating LOVE pilot program teach-ins, and working with SI2, Civic Scholars, and others in developing programming to support electoral engagement, such as the Arcadia Votes initiative. 
    • Expanding our partnerships with Black-owned businesses and vendors through Arcadia Purchasing and increasing the representation of Black-owned businesses with Career Education. We also plan to offer education for employees who make purchasing decisions, including working with local purchasing consortia. 

Plans are underway to meet with alumni and student leaders to solicit their feedback and input. In addition, the work of last year’s President’s Commission on JEDI has provided important points of reference, which are now finding integration into our workaround ABRI. The JEDI Commission’s recommendation for how to organize the continuation of JEDI work can be seen in this effort; the ABRI Committee is functioning as a “hub” for all of the Working Groups, bringing them together to aid each group’s work, and working together to achieve the same purposes. Along with the vision laid out by the JEDI Commission, the ABRI work is anchored in the vision and aspirations embodied in the Arcadia 2025 Adaptive Strategy. Please reach out to us if you would like to view the JEDI Commission year-end report. We will continue to provide quarterly updates or as initiatives come to fruition. 
 
Though we are making significant progress in our efforts, we realize how much more there is to accomplish. We cannot simply state our plans and vision once, or twice, or when we’re again reminded of the issues of systemic racism that continue to plague our society. Whether by serving on committees, leading groups, or helping to expand our communities of practice, each of us has a role to play in these efforts. With continued University-wide participation, we will indeed become, as President Nair has envisioned, a “University for the future.” 
 
We would like to acknowledge the hard work and efforts of our leadership team, including Kate Bonin, Cristina Cintron-Marsh, Sandra Crenshaw, Hector Figueroa, Ana Maria Garcia, Andrew Goretsky, Jessie Guinn, Kate Hanley, Priscilla Jeter-Iles, Rebecca Kohn, Alison LaLond Wyant, Doreen Loury, Angela McNeil, Bridget Miller,  Graciela Slesaransky-Poe, Joe Sun, Mary Sweeney, Dian Taylor-Alleyne, and May Their Aye. We’d also like to thank all Arcadians who have participated in events, facilitated conversations, and helped to shape our Community of Practice. 

If anyone has any questions or would like to submit a comment to the ABRI committee, you can email abricommittee@arcadia.edu.

Warm regards from JEDI leadership,
 
Jeff Rutenbeck, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Brigette A. Bryant, Vice President for Development and Alumni Engagement
Rakin Hall, Vice President for Enrollment Management

 

Dec. 18, 2020