Cal Poly is committed to fostering diversity and inclusion within its campus community. Over the past few decades, the university has put in motion efforts to increase the diversity of the campus community; to weave diversity and inclusion into the academic curriculum in order to prepare all students for success in a global marketplace; and has introduced numerous programs and initiatives to enhance diversity and inclusion and the campus climate so all members of the campus community know they belong.
While institutional change takes time, effort, patience and persistence, the university is making progress toward a more diverse and inclusive campus community. The timeline outlines some of the efforts over the past 25 years.
1996: Proposition 209, passed by California voters in November 1996, prohibits the university from granting enrollment or registration priority to any students based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.
1997: The President’s Diversity Award is established. The award celebrates members of the Cal Poly community who have exhibited a commitment to diversity.
1997: The Black Faculty and Staff Association forms from the restructuring of an organization formerly known as the Concerned Black Community (CBC). The CBC was officially recognized as a campus organization by President Warren Baker in 1979 and served as a voice in issues regarding the recruitment, retention, and promotion of Black faculty, staff and students. The BFSA aspires to create a campus climate that is inviting, nurturing and hospitable.
1998: The Academic Senate adopts, and President Warren J. Baker approves, resolutions on “The Academic Value of Diversity” and the “Cal Poly Statement on Diversity.” They recommend the administration “actively reaffirm the academic value of diversity among its faculty, staff, students and within the curriculum,” and that plans and strategies be devised “to promulgate and implement the diversity and educational objectives” outlined in the documents.
1999: The University Diversity Enhancement Council is established. The UDEC is charged with addressing climate issues, increasing cultural competence, and making recommendations to the President’s Office on the implementation of educational programs related to diversity, inclusion and campus climate.
2002: President Warren J. Baker’s Fall Convocation speech focuses on student success, diversity and civility.
2005: Chicana Latino Faculty Staff Association is established (now named the Chicanx Latinx Faculty Staff Association).
2007: About 40 of Cal Poly’s senior leaders attend a two-day retreat focused on “Inclusive Excellence,” and ways in which it might be implemented at Cal Poly.
2008: Diversity Learning Objectives are established as an addendum to the University Learning Objectives, which outline what all students who complete an undergraduate or graduate program at Cal Poly should be able to do. According to the Diversity Learning Objectives, revised in 2017, graduates should be able to:
2009: Resolutions in support of “Inclusive Excellence” are passed by the Academic Senate and Associated Students Inc. and the model is formally adopted on campus. Based on an initiative of the Association of American College and Universities, it is grounded in four principles:
— In higher education, an excellent institution is an inclusive institution.
— All students should have the opportunity to succeed.
— All students benefit educationally from participating in a community where people differ from one another.
— In order to be successful as citizens and workers, graduates must be prepared to live and work in a diverse world.
2009: Cal Poly goes through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation process starting in 2009 through 2012, which requires the university to engage in a self-study and to take a critical look at many facets of campus life and academic scholarship. In the reaccreditation report, Cal Poly receives strong marks in many areas and recommendations for future improvement; the area of diversity and inclusion is noted for needed improvement.
2009: The Inclusive Excellence Council forms by a merger of the University Diversity Enhancement Council with the Student Success Council. Guided by the university’s strategic plan, the Inclusive Excellence Council advises the President on ways of implementing the principles of Inclusive Excellence at Cal Poly.
2010: Cal Poly establishes the Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity (now the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion, or OUDI), which works with the campus on diversity issues and efforts to foster a diverse and inclusive campus climate.
2010: The Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association is developed, and officially becomes a university affiliated group in January 2012. The association supports Asian-Pacific Islanders in higher education to become stronger leaders and to create networking and social opportunities. It is committed to promoting diversity at Cal Poly and maintaining productive cross-cultural relations on campus.
2011: President Jeffrey D. Armstrong becomes the ninth permanent president of Cal Poly on Feb. 1, 2011. Diversity and inclusion are among his key areas of focus from Day One. He is particularly passionate about nurturing a campus climate that embraces inclusion and diversity.
2013: Cal Poly implements the Campus Climate Project, a university-wide effort to assess the campus culture and provide recommendations to “build on the success and address initiatives to improve the overall campus climate.”
2014: President Armstrong’s Vision 2022 is adopted in May 2014 and sets the framework for two major planning initiatives at Cal Poly — the Academic Plan and the Campus Master Plan. The vision, developed over three years with campus involvement, represents what Cal Poly should look like in 2022. It includes “creating a rich culture of diversity and inclusivity that supports and celebrates the similarities and differences of every individual on campus.”
2014: The results of a campus climate survey are shared, which leads to development of the Cal Poly Diversity Strategic Framework. The framework provides a roadmap for advocacy and action necessary for the university to foster diversity, inclusion and a welcoming campus climate for all community members. It includes four main goals that align with Vision 2022: to diversity the campus community, support and retain a diverse campus, enhance the campus climate, and exemplify inclusive excellence in Learn by Doing.
2015: Cal Poly releases an updated campus concept map and announces several key decisions as part of a process to update its master plan. The plan aims to “put our land to the best possible use for a diverse and inclusive faculty, staff and student body, and for the environment.” Buildings will be designed to serve all members of the campus community and include space for affinity group gatherings, cultural centers, gender-neutral bathrooms, lactation stations and other aspects important to an inclusive campus.
“In the spirit of educational equity, and in acknowledgement of the significant ways in which a university education can transform the lives of individuals and communities, we strive to increase the diversity at Cal Poly. As an institution that serves the state of California within a global context, we support the recruitment, retention, and success of talented students, faculty, and staff from across all societies, including people who are from historically and societally marginalized and underrepresented groups. Cal Poly is an inclusive community that embraces differences in people and thoughts. By being open to new ideas and showing respect for diverse points of view, we support a climate that allows all students, faculty, and staff to feel valued, which in turn facilitates the recruitment and retention of a diverse campus population.”
2016: In the spring, Cal Poly President Armstrong accepts and supports the Academic Senate resolution approving the Cal Poly Statement on Diversity. “The Academic Senate has a long history of supporting diversity and inclusivity initiatives going back into the 1980s,” he wrote. “I appreciate deeply that the Academic Senate has shown repeatedly that it understands why it is critical to the success of our faculty, staff and students that we continue to evolve in our approach to not only recruiting diverse faculty, staff and students, but also in improving our campus climate so that everyone can work and learn in an environment that is welcoming.”
2016: In the spring, Cal Poly develops a Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan with ongoing and future ideas, such as additional educational and training opportunities on diversity and cultural awareness, increased recruitment of faculty and staff of color, and developing more diversity-related curriculum. The ideas were developed in response to student ideas and concerns.
2016: In the summer, the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion engages in a mapping process to develop a snapshot of everything happening on campus related to diversity and inclusion, to ensure that the entire campus community is working collectively and utilizing a strategic and comprehensive approach. The diversity mapping process provides a more accurate and substantial picture of programs, services, policies and procedures addressing diversity and inclusion.
2017: Cal Poly elevates its diversity director position to a vice president-level post for the first time and names Josephine (Jozi) De Leon as vice president and chief officer for diversity and inclusion. De Leon, who started July 10, 2017, is the campus leader of inclusivity and diversity initiatives and serves as as a leading voice on matters of equality, diversity and inclusion.
2017: Cal Poly eliminates the Early Decision admissions option after discovering the process disadvantaged low-income students because they would not know the full extent of their financial aid prior to making a commitment. That decision resulted in the most diverse incoming class in the university’s history. In 2011, the campus was 63 percent Caucasian; in fall of 2017, it was less than 55 percent. The percentage of students identifying as Hispanic/Latino and Asian-American increased to 16.7 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively.
2017: Led by Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity Jozi De Leon, the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion embarks on a Collective Impact approach, premised on the belief that no single policy, department, organization or program can tackle or solve the increasingly complex social problems we face as a society. The approach allows multiple campus groups to work around a common agenda and shared measurements for diversity and inclusion with the help of OUDI’s centralized infrastructure.
2017: Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts conducted a cluster search designed to attract a diverse group of academics invested in inclusive teaching and dedicated to scholarly contributions in this area. The college hired seven assistant professors across several departments.
2018: Collective Impact continues in the winter and spring, with students, faculty and staff from throughout campus participating in the process. Three strategy groups focused on curriculum, campus climate and the recruitment and retention of faculty and students met and developed recommendations, which will go to the Inclusive Excellence Council for review and approval.
2018: In the spring, the university releases an extensive list of Diversity Action Initiatives, outlining details existing and future strategies, tactics and initiatives focused on improving diversity and developing a more inclusive culture on campus.
2018: In the fall, the university announces it will move forward the Cal Poly Opportunity Fee, a new fee aimed at increasing access to academically qualified low-income and first-generation undergraduate students in California. The Cal Poly Opportunity Fee will be assessed on all newly enrolled out-of-state undergraduate students starting in fall 2019 and will be phased in over four years. The new fee will result in the expansion of the Cal Poly Scholars program and provide financial assistance for high-achieving California students who meet Cal Poly’s rigorous academic admission requirements but can’t afford to attend the university.
2018: In the fall, the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion holds a forum to share the Collective Impact strategy group recommendations and to discuss next steps. Strategy groups and subgroups will reform and continue work during the 2018-19 academic year to advance the recommendations.
2018: Cal Poly conducts a university-wide cluster hire of tenure-track faculty for the 2019-20 academic year who will be expected to contribute to the university’s diversity and inclusion goals. The cluster hire includes a position in nearly every college on campus.
Over the past 25 years, Cal Poly has made strides in its efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive campus community. Through the collective efforts of the entire campus community, the university has put in place more initiatives and programs to support diversity and inclusion in the campus community than at any other time in its history. Programs and initiatives are underway in every facet of campus, such as academics, Student Affairs, Human Resources, University Housing, and Campus Health and Wellbeing. In the future, Cal Poly will continue to advance and scale up a number of endeavors aimed at improving and maintaining a positive campus community in which all students and employees know that they are welcome and they belong.