Cal Poly’s mission is to provide a Learn by Doing experience that prepares our students to become 21st century leaders. Diversity and inclusion are the catalysts that bring this mission to life — sparking creativity, leadership, learning and teamwork. We strive for Inclusive Excellence, where Cal Poly provides students with the opportunity to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to work with and learn from anyone and everyone. The university is now embarking on a 12-month call to action to accelerate achieving Cal Poly’s diversity and inclusion goals.
As an institution, Cal Poly has a moral obligation to ensure that every member of our community can study and work in an environment where they feel a sense of belonging and can make a valuable contribution to society. As a public institution in the diverse and vibrant state of California, we have the additional obligation of ensuring that our campus community reflects that diversity.
Diversity, inclusion and inclusive excellence are our aim and our ideal. Cal Poly has embraced a trajectory moving us toward that ideal since 1994. In 1998, we adopted the Cal Poly Statement on Diversity. Inclusive Excellence became part of our identity as we worked to ensure that Cal Poly was both excellent and diverse. Through both individual efforts and leadership, we have seen great strides in our diversity and inclusion efforts. In the past two years, Cal Poly has experienced its greatest progress through OUDI’s leadership and collective involvement across the university to identify important issues, find solutions and make recommendations for change. The next phase of our work is to accelerate our progress, ensure that diversity and inclusion continue to drive our excellence and transform us to the vision we have for Cal Poly.
To continue our progress, Cal Poly is engaging in a major diversity and inclusion initiative. The university leadership has launched the Cal Poly Inclusive Excellence Action Plan. This Inclusive Excellence approach to diversity and inclusion work is grounded in the recognition that a community or institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages and includes the rich diversity of students, staff, faculty, administrators and alumni constituents.
More than a short-term project or single-office initiative, this comprehensive approach further solidifies our collective involvement of a fundamental transformation of the institution. It will embed Inclusive Excellence in every aspect of our institution, at every level — in classrooms, laboratories, administrative offices, and out on campus — helping to shift not only practices and policies but also the mindset of each and every community member.
The Inclusive Excellence Action Plan is an unprecedented 12-month call to action that will accelerate Cal Poly’s work to become more inclusive. It is comprised of diversity and inclusion programs that combine a wide range of campus-focused efforts, to be implemented throughout the 2019 calendar year. Together, these efforts are designed to:
While the work of making excellence inclusive is a long-term proposition, we created the Cal Poly Inclusive Excellence Action Plan as a way of building from our Collective Impact work to accelerate progress through a dynamic campaign. Our efforts will not end in 12 months; rather, the next 12 months represent an opportunity to focus our efforts toward becoming more evidence-based, collaborative and intentional in our efforts to embed diversity and inclusion throughout university life. It is a jumping off point for a journey toward complete Inclusive Excellence, which remains a top institutional priority for our campus.
Nationally recognized diversity, leadership, and organizational change expert Dr. Damon A. Williams (drdamonawilliams.com) will serve as a friend and partner in Cal Poly’s efforts.
Dr. Williams and his team will work with the Cal Poly community to spark conversations, gather survey and interview data, and conduct training and professional development programs to support our community throughout their diversity and inclusion journey.
The results of this work will be concrete and measurable. It will result in an actionable report; more than 1,000 trained members of our community; and a clear, evidenced-based understanding of our campus experience to drive change on a daily basis.
But there will also be other, immeasurable results over time — a student feeling more comfortable in the classroom, a professor initiating a challenging conversation that opens up minds to new ideas, a ubiquitous sense of acceptance the encourages exploration and collaboration — and these changes are what will truly set Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo on track to be the best institution we can possibly be.
Cal Poly is partnering with Damon A. Williams, Ph.D., to accelerate the university’s efforts to embed diversity and inclusion throughout university life.
Williams is a diversity, equity and inclusion expert and one of the founding architects of the “Inclusive Excellence Model,” a framework that helps institutions fully integrate their diversity, equity and educational quality efforts and embed them into the core of academic mission and institutional operations.
Williams authored the best-selling book “Strategic Diversity Leadership: Activating Change and Transformation in Higher Education” and co-authored the first book ever written on the chief diversity officer role. He heads the National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy and the Center for Strategic Diversity Leadership and Social Innovation. Williams has worked with more than 1,000 colleges and universities, Fortune 100 companies and nonprofit organizations.
He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan Center for the Study of Higher and Post-Secondary Education, where he specialized in the area of organizational behavior and management. Learn more about Williams at drdamonawilliams.com
Jan. 24, 2019: Click here to read a letter to campus announcing the Inclusive Excellence Action Plan from President Jeffrey D. Armstrong and Jozi De Leon, vice president for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.
Inclusive Excellence is the idea that none of us has achieved excellence unless all of us have, and that the excellence of anyone begins with the inclusion of everyone. The reality of today’s world is that all of us will increasingly work with people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse identities. What it means to be an educated person today is that you can work with and learn from anyone and everyone. What it means to be a university today is that we provide students with the opportunity to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to become that educated person. In order to be excellent, an institution is constantly evolving toward becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive and continues to assess its progress to that end. The whole university in engaged in making excellence inclusive.
Inclusive Excellence became part of Cal Poly’s identify in 2009. Based on an initiative of the Association of American College and Universities, it is grounded in four principles:
The Inclusive Excellence Action Plan is a 12-month-long comprehensive campaign that will add to the Collective Impact efforts that have been implemented over the past year. It is an initiative that is designed to add to our trajectory of Inclusive Excellence by embedding Inclusive Excellence in every aspect of the university, at every level — in classrooms, laboratories administrative offices and throughout campus — helping to shift not only practices and policies but also the mindset of each and every community member. This yearlong call to action is comprised of diversity and inclusion programs that combine a wide range of campus-focused efforts that will be implemented throughout the 2019 calendar year.
The Inclusive Excellence Action Plan is a comprehensive campaign that will give members of our campus community the opportunity to share their lived experiences, participate in workshops or other learning opportunities, and help create a strategy that aims to embed diversity and inclusion across the university. The information that is collected will allow us to continue to study ourselves through the data that is generated research as well as to develop a clear, evidence-based understanding of our campus experience to drive change on a daily basis. The Campus Experience Survey will provide us with data to determine where we need to focus in improving a campus environment that is inclusive, where individuals feel a sense of belonging and where they feel they can make a valuable contribution as a member of our campus community.
The Inclusive Excellence Action Plan is additive in our journey toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive university. While many strategies and movements have led us to where we are today, this initiative can accelerate our progress. It is designed to integrate and bring additional focus to the ongoing and fruitful Collective Impact work that has been accomplished. Cal Poly’s Collective Impact approach is premised on the belief that no single policy, department, organization or program can tackle or solve the increasing complexity that creating diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education entails. The approach brings multiple campus groups together to work around a common agenda and shared measurements for diversity and inclusion with the help of the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion’s (OUDI’s) centralized infrastructure. Three collective impact strategy groups focused on embedding diversity in curricular and co-curricular areas, improving campus climate, and the recruitment and retention of diversity in our faculty, staff and students met and developed recommendations. Those recommendations will be reviewed by the Inclusive Excellence Council and implementation will continue through the 2018-19 academic year and beyond.
The campuswide survey will open in April. Additional details on how to take the survey will be shared with the campus community in the coming weeks.
All current students, faculty and staff may take the survey. The survey is not open to alumni.
Yes, the survey will be confidential and participant anonymity will be protected.
The results of the state-of-the-art Campus Experience Survey are expected to be released in June and reported out to the campus community in the fall. The results will be used to develop a clear action plan and allow the university to drive new tactics and actions to spark change.