Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Diversity and inclusion efforts are robust and ongoing at Cal Poly. In 2018, the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion created a summary of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to help the campus community understand the valuable progress happening. The summary of initiatives will be updated regularly to encourage transparency and engagement from all members of the Cal Poly community.

While some of the initiatives outlined are recently established — such as the Cal Poly Opportunity Fee — many of the programs, resources and organizations have served campus community members for some time. The university is continually exploring how to expand its efforts to further create an inclusive campus — one where all campus community members feel they are welcome and belong.

Cal Poly strives for Inclusive Excellence, when excellence and diversity efforts are intertwined. To attain Inclusive Excellence, the university will further its efforts to recruit and maintain a diverse student body, faculty and staff; foster a welcoming campus community; and weave diversity, equity and inclusion into the curriculum and co-curriculum. The efforts highlighted further the university’s commitment to recruit a diverse pool of prospective students, nurture organizations and clubs to foster a sense of belonging, offer support and mentoring to enhance student experiences, provide opportunities for education and dialogue, prepare graduates for success in a diverse and global market, and engage the entire campus community in diversity and inclusion work.

Offering financial aid to students with the highest need.

The university has embarked on a transformational plan to provide financial aid to low-income and first-generation California students to increase access to Cal Poly for academically excellent students who cannot afford to attend.

  • The Cal Poly Opportunity 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. The Cal Poly Scholars program has improved retention rates among first-generation and low-income students as compared to their peers who did not participate in the program.

Providing mentoring programs for students from underserved populations.

Numerous mentoring programs across campus support students’ academic, personal and professional growth. The programs empower students to complete their Cal Poly education, connect them with resources and build community.

  • About 100 faculty and students are paired in mentoring relationships through the BEACoN Mentor Program, which connects underrepresented students to faculty mentors to help students reach their full academic and personal potential. Mentors work collaboratively with all members of the campus community to increase success and retention of underrepresented or underperforming students. A research mentoring opportunity was added in the 2018-19 academic year with 21 research matches.
  • In addition to BEACoN Mentors, eight other mentoring programs have grown to serve hundreds of students, including programs tailored for undocumented and first-generation students.

Building a comprehensive network of diversity and inclusion leaders across campus.

Cal Poly has invested in creating infrastructure, key roles and support across the university to advance diversity and inclusion work.

  • New tenure-track faculty members added through diversity cluster hires have a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion in teaching, research, and/or service, and will support and enhance inclusive teaching strategies across the university. Seven new faculty members were hired in 2017 in the College of Liberal Arts. In addition, searches are underway for about 12 additional faculty members in various colleges.
  • In each of Cal Poly six colleges, associate deans focus on diversity and inclusion as part of their duties.

Creating programs, clubs and organizations to foster inclusion and a sense of community.

Numerous programs, organizations and clubs are available at Cal Poly for campus members to form community and to support academic, personal and professional growth. These spaces aim to foster inclusion and a sense of belonging for all members of the campus community, particularly students.

  • The Black Academic Excellence Center (BAEC) has grown from providing purely academic resources to serving as a social hub for the black community as well as connection to identity and culture on campus. 
  • Kennedy Library created a dedicated space for meditation, prayer and relief from sensory overload to serve the campus community.
  • The MultiCultural Center will open an expanded space in the University Union in winter 2019 to better support students. 
  • The Veterans Success Center celebrated its fourth year on campus serving veterans and veteran-dependent students.
  • Cal Poly re-established the Interfaith Campus Council to better serve students. 

Fostering university-wide engagement around diversity and inclusion.

Led by OUDI, an organizational structure has been put in place to engage the entire campus community, bring coordination to diversity and inclusion work happening across the university, and coalesce all efforts in an intentional way.

  • The campus community has participated in a collective action and alignment process, led by OUDI, to integrate diversity and inclusion efforts campuswide. Three strategy groups met during the 2017-18 academic year, focused on curriculum, campus climate and the recruitment and retention of faculty and students, and made numerous recommendations.
  • Each college has formed special committees on diversity and inclusion, including student specific committees in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; the College of Engineering; and the College of Liberal Arts. 

Implementing additional training programs and learning opportunities across campus.

Diversity and inclusion educational opportunities are offered university-wide, with a variety of presentations, workshops and outreach opportunities available to students, faculty and staff. Such programs offer opportunities for dialogue and learning, create greater awareness and foster connections among campus community members. Numerous training sessions, workshops and keynote speakers drew more than 8,000 students, faculty and staff members during the 2017-18 academic year.

  • All incoming students attended orientation programs during SLO Days and Week of Welcome centered around diversity and inclusion. The Cross-Cultural Experience was also added to WOW.
  • Approximately 1,925 faculty and staff members and students attended a variety of presentations and workshops, including content on hidden bias, microagressions and bias in recruitment.
  • Forty-four faculty members have participated in Teaching Inclusion and Diversity Everywhere (TIDE), a professional development opportunity offered by the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology in collaboration with the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion.

Conducting a campus climate assessment and develop associated action plan.

Announced in early 2019, the Cal Poly Experience initiative 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.

  • The initiative centers around a CPX Survey for students, faculty and staff, an external review of our campus diversity and inclusion infrastructure, and integrated diversity and inclusion workshops, professional development and training programs. 

Removing barriers so students from underrepresented backgrounds accept Cal Poly’s offer to attend at a higher rate.

Consistent, coordinated outreach to the broader community ensures that prospective students from underrepresented backgrounds continue to apply to Cal Poly. The outreach seeks maintain and enhance a broad pool of qualified candidates that closely reflects the demographics of the state of California.

  • Upward Bound provides fundamental support to local low-income, first-generation college bound high school students through after school mentoring, academic advising, educational field trips and summer residential programs on campus. 
  • PolyCultural Weekend is designed to acquaint prospective students to Cal Poly by exploring its academic, cultural and social resources. The immersive weekend on campus aims to establish a sense of community, a sense of belonging, and provides students with the skills to succeed at Cal Poly.