Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Report 2021
VCU College of Humanities and Sciences
Jump to section:
- Executive Summary
- CHS EID Strategic Goals
- CHS, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee (IDEC)
- Unit EID Committees
- Leaders for Inclusive Learning
- Strategic Recruitment Plan
- EID and Annual Faculty Report
- Term Faculty
- CHS Initiatives and Special Interest Groups
- Racial Literacy Course (CSIJ)
- Equity Leaders
- Racial Equity Survey
- Scholarship Funds
- Community Engagement
- CHS Centers
- Moving Forward
This critical report summarizes the College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS) equity, inclusion and diversity (EID) activities for the 2021 calendar year. In October 2020, Jennifer Malat, Ph.D., dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences, appointed Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Psychology, as the inaugural associate dean for equity and community partnerships. Belgrave's appointment has brought intentional and sustained focus to EID issues, resulting in clear strategic goals and new procedures and initiatives. This report highlights ongoing EID activities and new activities and initiatives in CHS with a focus on 2021. This report also provides recommendations for moving forward to strengthen EID.
- Belgrave appointed an ad hoc committee to develop EID strategic goals. The seven goals, strategies and metrics developed by this committee can be seen on the new EID website.
- The CHS Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee (IDEC) continued to fulfill its mission to foster a respectful, inclusive and accessible community of students, staff and faculty. IDEC continued its dialogue and speaker series and awards honoring those who exemplify equity and inclusion.
- In 2021 EID committees in CHS units increased: 17 of the 18 CHS units (94%) have EID committees. Committees' activities included establishing an EID committee, creating an inclusive teaching practice video, sending out messages following critical events and administering a student survey about inclusion.
- CHS implemented Leaders for Inclusive Learning (LIL) to strengthen leadership skills and immersion in current approaches for inclusive practices for 25 faculty who participated in the year-long program. LIL focused on building capacity for an equity-minded educational experience at VCU. These faculty are now ready to help lead their departments in inclusive pedagogy to improve student success.
- CHS implemented the Strategic Recruitment Plan (SRP) in 2021 to ensure an inclusive faculty search. The SRP strengthens accountability and seeks to increase the inclusion of underrepresented and female faculty, especially females in STEM fields.
- The CHS 2021 faculty report form was revised for faculty to include EID activities in teaching, scholarship and service. The 2021 faculty report served as a pilot to capture what faculty are doing and to make recommendations for how EID can be reported in future faculty annual report forms.
- Christopher Burdett, Ph.D., special assistant to the dean, administered a comprehensive survey of term faculty to identify views on a range of issues. Recommendations resulted in the creation of GROWTH awards for term faculty and future professional development grants for teaching-related activities in EID, managed by IDEC.
- Belgrave convened two new interest groups. The Latinx Interest Group advances the work of Latinx faculty, staff and students. The Race and Racism Group was convened for faculty and staff interested in race and racism topics. The African American Male Initiative (AAMI) continued as a standing committee to promote the retention of Black male students.
- CHS faculty (Mignonne Guy, Ph.D., and Amy Rector, Ph.D.) led the Committee on Racial Equity (CORE), which successfully led efforts to add a racial literacy class requirement to the foundations of the general education curriculum.
- Other EID initiatives implemented in CHS during 2021 included a professional development fund that recognized equity leaders, a racial equity survey conducted in collaboration with Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute and an emergency fund to support equitable access for students.
- CHS implemented several community engagement activities in 2021. These included the appointment of a community-engagement fellow, the initiation of an external Community Action Council consisting of stakeholders in the Richmond metro region and the appointment of an internal Community Advisory Committee consisting of CHS staff, faculty and students.
- CHS centers (i.e, Humanities Research Center, Center for Positive Youth Development, Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, and the Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention) promoted equity and inclusion in numerous ways. These ranged from grants on reducing disparities to training underrepresented and minoritized students to working with local community organizations and recommending systematic changes to funding agencies. The centers also hosted workshops, webinars and other presentations that amplify minoritized populations' voices and increase awareness of EID-related topics.
Working together we have accomplished a great deal toward our goals. To continue our trajectory as an equitable College, we must be mindful that systematic changes in policies and procedures are necessary.
We are pleased to present this critical report on the equity, inclusion, and diversity activities of the College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS). CHS has meaningfully demonstrated its commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity in the last two years. This report focuses primarily on the 2021 calendar year, although some activities initiated in 2021 did spill over to 2022.
In October 2020, Jennifer Malat, Ph.D., dean of CHS, appointed Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Psychology, as the inaugural associate dean for equity and community partnerships. Belgrave's appointment brought intentional and sustained focus to EID issues, resulting in clear strategic goals, and new procedures and initiatives. The call for a more equitable college received support from faculty and staff across the CHS. Several initiatives have addressed the call for equity, including more inclusive pedagogy, increased coursework on race, intersectionality and LGBTQ+ topics, and a now-required racial literacy course for all VCU students. Faculty and staff have engaged in professional development activities that have strengthened their commitment to and actions supporting an inclusive culture. Commitment to EID is also evident in scholarship activities that include diverse teams of minoritized faculty and students and meaningful scholarship on topics that help to understand and address disparities and social injustice. CHS faculty and staff also engage in a myriad of service activities that support EID, from serving on EID committees to giving community talks to participating in media interviews.
While we are proud of what CHS has accomplished, we know that work remains. We strive toward a future where the faculty and staff better match our students, and all faculty, staff and students are respected in their authentic identities. The College's scholarship, teaching and service activities support these goals. The CHS EID Strategic Goals specify needed action toward this future. We look forward to working together to continue our progress on our shared goals.
CHS EID Strategic Goals
In the spring of 2021, Belgrave appointed an ad hoc committee to create short-term strategic goals for CHS. These goals, targeted to be accomplished by December 2022, are in line with CHS's EID aim to establish and uphold a climate of institutional equity, inclusion and diversity.
From the CHS EID Strategic Goals overview:
CHS must be intentional about EID as seen through commitment and behaviors, including (1) how CHS teaches and trains students; (2) how students live and learn; and (3) how faculty, staff and students interact with each other.
- Goal 1: Increase the participation and accountability of staff, faculty and administrators in EID activities
- Goal 2: Increase faculty’s training and engagement in antiracist and inclusive teaching and learning practices
- Goal 3: Increase CHS’s climate of inclusivity through more staff involvement in EID training and activities
- Goal 4: Increase students’ ‘sense of belonging’ and engagement in activities on and off campus (including activities with community partners)
- Goal 5: Create and implement inclusive recruitment and retention practices to increase the number of underrepresented and minoritized faculty
- Goal 6: Create and implement inclusive recruitment and retention practices to increase the number of underrepresented minority staff in leadership positions through promotion in place and staff hires at equitable rates
- Goal 7: Create opportunities for faculty to engage in collaborative scholarship around race, racism and antiracist research
These goals were stated as short-term goals intended to improve equity, inclusion and diversity within 18 months and by December 2022. Several of these goals have been met. See EID Goals, Strategies, Metrics and Progress [Google Doc]. Activities, programs, committees and initiatives discussed in this report are in alignment with these goals.
CHS EID Strategic Goals Committee
- Levi Burton, Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies
- Charlene Crawley, Ph.D., Chemistry, Science and IDEC
- Lee Franco, Ph.D., Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences
- Lucy R. Hudson, Department of Psychology
- Bernard Moitt, Ph.D., Department of History
- Anita Nadal, School of World Studies
- Fernando A. Tenjo, Ph.D., Department of Biology
CHS, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee (IDEC)
IDEC highlights, coordinates and promotes efforts across all CHS units that foster respect, greater understanding, engagement and inclusion of all its members. (Goals 2, 3, 4)
IDEC co-sponsored a talk by Brian Smedley, Ph.D., on “Race, Place, and Chronic Disease: Addressing the Roots of Health Disparities” on February 25, 2021. Smedley is chief of psychology in the public interest at the American Psychological Association and a national thought leader in the field of health equity. Over 200 people from the VCU and the Richmond metro community attended the Zoom presentation. The talk also included a tribute to Audrey Smedley, Ph.D, a pioneering African American anthropologist and former VCU professor who passed away in November 2020.
Each year, IDEC identifies, selects and bestows annual diversity awards to faculty, staff and students for recognition within CHS. The purpose of these awards is to honor individuals or groups of VCU administrators, faculty, staff or students who exemplify the importance and commitment to inclusion, diversity and equity. There are four categories of IDEC awards:
- Leadership in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (LSIDE) Staff and Administrator Award
- Rising Star in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (RSIDE) Student Award
- Trailblazer in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (TBIDE) Faculty Award
- Collaborative Work in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (CWIDE) Group Award
In 2021, two awards were given: the Trailblazer in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Award (TBIDE) was bestowed on Dr. Christopher Brooks, and the Collaborative Work in Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity was awarded to the Committee on Racial Equity Student Advisory Group (CWIDE). (The Leadership in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Award and the Rising Star in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Student Award were not given out that year.)
IDEC also created an essay contest for CHS students in the spring of 2021. This contest gave CHS students the opportunity to describe their involvement in equity and inclusion activities, what equity challenges CHS faced, and strategies for addressing these challenges. Jordan Matamoro-Mejias and Stacey Ruiz were the winners of this award.
Each semester IDEC hosts CHS and university-wide programs covering a salient aspect of EID with the goal to encourage dialogic engagement across students, staff and faculty. The theme for fall 2021 was Christianity and social justice. A panel on “The Role of Christianity in Matters of Gender and Sexuality” spoke on November 17 via Zoom. Participants included Dave Coogan, Ph.D., Brooke Taylor, Katie Moffitt, Ronald Fountain and Rebecca Ringle.
IDEC Committee Members
- Christine Booker, Ph.D. (co-chair), Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences
- Victoria Chege, CHS student
- David Coogan, Ph.D., Department of English
- Eli Coston, Ph.D., Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies
- Charlene Crawley, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry, Interdisciplinary Science Program
- Alanna Green, CHS student
- Ching-Yu Huang, Ph.D., Department of Biology
- Shawn Jones, Ph.D., (co-chair), Department of Psychology
- Jasmyne Khan, CHS student, CHS Leadership Council
- Jo S. Murphy, Department of Forensic Science
- Dae Newman, Department of African American Studies
- Samaneh Oladi, Ph.D., School of World Studies
- Ryan O’Hallahan, Department of History
- Shenika Smith, Dean’s Office
- Marie Vergamin, CHS student
- Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., (ex-officio member), Dean’s Office
Unit EID Committees
(Goal 1, 2, 3, 4)
Seventeen unit EID committees were hard at work advancing EID in their respective units. A snapshot of 2021 EID activities was obtained from responses to a survey sent by Belgrave to unit EID chairs in the spring of 2022. As discussed below, activities were diverse and engaged students, faculty, staff and community members. They ranged from creating an EID committee to professional development opportunities to developing a video on inclusive teaching. The unit EID committee highlights listed below were written in the survey by the committee chairs or co-chairs and may not reflect the entirety of these committees' valuable work.
Department of African American Studies
- By the survey deadline, no activity had been reported.
- Adam Ewing, Ph.D.
- Grace Gipson, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
- The faculty approved a new set of bylaws that included the addition of the DEI committee as a standing committee and sought input on the DEI mission statement.
- Created a brief set of DEI questions for the Undergraduate Student Exit Survey that biology majors must answer in order to graduate. Following the collection of the Exit Survey responses, the DEI committee will carefully review the students' replies and create a report on the findings that will be shared with the department. The first student survey was conducted in February, and the data are currently being analyzed.
- Discussion with biology inclusive teaching leaders.
- Discussion with the Immunity to Change program leader through ADVANCE IT
- Nathaniel-David Dizon
- Sarah Golding, Ph.D.
- Alaattin Kaya, Ph.D.
- Derek Prosser, PH.D. (co-chair)
- Angel Vaughan
- Marie Vergamini
- Jackie Vick
- Carolina Yaber
- Wenheng Zhang, Ph.D. (co-chair)
Department of Chemistry
- Nomination of Raphael Klake for the "Black History in the Making Student Award"
- LaChelle Waller, Ph.D., received the PACME Staff Award
- The American Chemical Society student affiliates participated in an experimental learning opportunity at the department's STEAM Day event in Hopewell, V.A., in collaboration with Patrick Copeland Elementary School. 300+ students from grades 3, 4 and 5 participated in 16 different STEAM hands-on/engaging activities at this event.
- Charlene Crawley, Ph.D. (chair)
- Heather Lucas, Ph.D.
- LaChelle Waller, Ph.D.
Department of English
- Created a DEI committee with elected members and selected/divided graduate and undergraduate student members
- Surveyed students and faculty/staff about diversity climate and goals.
- DEI committee drafted a DEI mission statement for the department, and it was approved unanimously by a department-wide vote and is now posted on the department's website
- Two topics courses (300- and 400-level) in African American literature were added to the curriculum.
- This spring the graduating senior survey included questions that seek input on their perception of DEI climate and course offerings.
- Winnie Chan, Ph.D.
- Gretchen Comba
- Thomas Didato
- Shelli Fowler, Ph.D. (co-chair)
- Shermaine Jones, Ph.D.
- Mary Caton Lingold, Ph.D.
- Terry Oggel, Ph.D.
Department of Forensic Science
- Created a mission statement, EID goals, and a platform for opportunities and articles after establishing an EID committee involving students, staff and faculty
- The department offered in-person listening sessions and online feedback forms so that people could tell them what they're doing right, what they need to improve and how they can be more inclusive.
- Rhea Arya
- Emilie Brandt-Hare
- Sylvia Buffington
- Jo S. Murphy (chair)
- Baneshwar Singh, Ph.D.
- Stephanie Walcott
Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies
- Convened GSWS Pedagogy Group to improve inclusive teaching practices
- Started the Transfer Student Initiative to help better support and retain transfer students
- The Harrell-Benson Scholarship helps students who require financial assistance with first-generation college students receiving preference.
- Equity Conversations are a series of departmental discussions intended to raise awareness of equity concerts and provide solutions.
- Eli Coston, Ph.D.
- Francesca Lyn, Ph.D.
- Madison Moore, Ph.D.
- Matilde Moros, Ph.D.
Department of History
- Created three additional language options for the Briceland Scholarship, which is intended to be gender inclusive
- Worked on draft for permanent inclusion of the EID committee in the department bylaws
- Discussed inclusivity concerns surrounding the third-year review process and teaching evaluations
- Arranged a diversity fair for the department and asked student organizations representing many identities (such as the Persian Club, Men of Color in Leadership, Rainbow Triangle Club and History Now) to attend and promote their safe spaces.
- Brian Daugherity, Ph.D.
- Christopher Ewing, Ph.D.
- Melis Hafez, Ph.D.
- Bernard Moitt, Ph.D.
- Katy Shively, Ph.D. (chair)
Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences
- The department conducted a focus group with KHS students to ask them about their perceptions of and sentiments toward the KHS curriculum. The department will use the themes that emerge from the focus groups to address and remove any impediments that students may have felt in the process of earning their degree.
- Sponsored an iExcel course titled Implicit Bias in the Workplace S903W for KHS faculty/staff
- Collaborated with VCU RecWell and offered a presentation for KHS faculty/staff/students on Managing Stress with Mindfulness
- Ongoing end-of-the-semester student survey to get student feedback on their thoughts on the department's efforts to maintain a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment, and how they view themselves within the KHS Community
- Ongoing weekly email to KNS faculty/staff providing information about events, workshops and training at VCU that relate to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
- Natalie Bohmke
- Kolton Cobb
- Daishan Johnson
- Ryan Johnson
- Seth Leibowitz, Ed.D.
- Anette Loughran-Fjeldstad, Ph.D.
- Monique Morton (co-chair)
- Jacob Richardson
- Joann Richardson, Ph.D. (co-chair)
- Sylvia Rozario, Ph.D. (co-chair)
Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics
- Submitted a survey and faculty to assess attitudes and perceptions of DEI and justice-related issues
- Analyzed survey findings to determine action items
- Susan Kirk
- Michael Robert, Ph.D.
- Oyita Udiani, Ph.D.
Department of Military Science and Leadership
- Collaborated with VCU Inclusive Excellence and Archana Pathak, Ph.D., taught a workshop "Communication with Other Cultures" to the cadets on April 26. They plan for the workshop to be offered each semester.
- Dianne Stewart-Frausto
- Ian Ramsey
Department of Physics
- By the survey deadline, no activity had been reported.
- Marilyn F. Bishop, Ph.D. (chair)
- Muruges Duraisamy, Ph.D.
- Kerwin Foster, Ph.D.
- Jeannie Friedrich
- Daeha Joung, Ph.D.
- John Yates
Department of Political Science
- Department-wide workshop on how to catalog the EID-related activities
- Began an inquiry into evaluating gender/race in student evaluations
- Alexandra Reckendorf, Ph.D.
- Andrea Simonelli, Ph.D. (chair)
- Jessica Trisko Darden, Ph.D.
- Jatia Wrighten, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
- Launched *PrEDI Research Study, which included faculty training on inclusive syllabi led by Kim Case, Ph.D., and evaluation of training/outcomes among attendees as well as a PrEDI spotlights newsletter
- Held virtual panel on writing EDI statements and interviewing about EDI (gearing toward graduate students)
- Sent emails related to distressing events
- Developed PrEDI historical activity timeline
- Sent survey related to PrEDI efforts/activities and how they are valued.
- Created information sheet about PrEDI for distribution to potential and current graduate students
*Note - PrEDI stands for Psychology's Committee for the Promotion of EID
- Ashlynn Bell (co-chair)
- Caroline Cobb (co-chair)
- Amber Fox
- Mary Beth Heller, Ph.D.
- Jennifer Joy-Gaba, Ph.D.
- Joshua Langberg, Ph.D. (co-chair)
- Fantasy Lozada, Ph.D.
- Jared Keeley, Ph.D.
- Christian Payne
- Broquelynn Shepard
- Vicky Shivy, Ph.D.
- Denise Zheng
Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture
- Submitted nominations for the Black History in the Making Awards
- Changed the name from the Diversity Committee to the Diversity and Equity committee
- Purchased "Moving Students of Color from Consumers to Producers of Technology" as a resource for students and faculty in The Robertson School's Media Innovation Lab. This book helps educators and students learn about efforts to broaden participation in computer science and engineering field for underrepresented students.
- Convened the National Association of Black Journalists' VCU chapter workshop on April 21 on "How to Discover Careers in Journalism"
- Bridget Camden
- Minhee Choi, Ph.D.
- Veronica Garabelli (chair)
- Kaitlin Hanger, Ph.D.
- Aloni Hill, Ph.D.
- Vivian Medina-Messner
- Bill Oglesby, Ph.D.
School of World Studies
- Appointed an EID committee
- Aspen Brinton, Ph.D. (chair)
- Samaneh Oladi, Ph.D.
- Kamilia Rahmouni, Ph.D.
- Indira Sultanic, Ph.D.
- Mayda Topoushian, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
- To assess the existing environment, the department distributed an EID survey to the faculty
- Worked on the Academic Program Review EID item as a department. For the next fall semester, they will begin creating faculty EID syllabus statements.
- Volkan Aytar, Ph.D.
- Meredith Katz, Ph.D. (chair)
- Frankie Mastrangelo, Ph.D.
Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research
- Created a video on inclusive teaching practices
- Met to strategize how to encourage faculty to incorporate inclusive teaching practices and decided to create a department list of classroom practices
- Had a department-wide lunch meeting to candidly discuss challenges and disagreements about EID
- Mita Basu
- Rebecca Durfee
- Shuchi Jain
- Cheng Ly, Ph.D. (chair)
Leaders for Inclusive Learning
(Goal 2, 4)
CHS partnered with the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and the VCU Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence Initiative to design and implement an innovative new program called Leaders for Inclusive Learning (LIL). (For more information, please see Leaders for Inclusive Learning in VCU News)
Selected faculty members participated in a year-long (~80hrs) development program that promoted leadership skills and immersion in current approaches for inclusive learning. The LIL group learned about personal, structural and institutional biases contributing to student persistence disparities. The purpose of the program was to create a faculty community of practice with expertise in creating inclusive learning environments. Subsequently, these faculty will work with their departments as peer faculty mentors on inclusive learning to help lead intentional change across our largest College. The long-term goal is to increase students' sense of belonging on campus, increase student persistence and support student success for those who are at most risk of adverse outcomes due to institutional bias.
Twenty-five CHS faculty participated in the year-long program, which focused on building capacity for an equity-minded educational experience at VCU. These faculty are now ready to help to lead their departments through a reflective process to assess the department's current capacity for change and where the departments can find opportunity gaps to improve student success.
Malat secured funding and charged Sarah Golding, Ph.D., (CHS Dean’s Office/Biology) with developing the program, which she led with Allison Johnson, Ph.D., (VCU HHMI Program Director/Bioinformatics), and Kim Case, Ph.D., (CTLE Director/GSWS).
Strategic Recruitment Plan
CHS implemented the Strategic Recruitment Plan (SRP) in 2021 to ensure an inclusive faculty search in CHS. The SRP strengthens accountability and seeks to increase the inclusion of underrepresented faculty, especially those from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups and female faculty, especially those in STEM fields. The SRP began as an initiative out of the Provost Office slated for future implementation across the university. The SRP is reviewed and signed at four stages by the hiring manager, the head of the search committee, and the human resource professional or the Recruitment Inclusion Champion (RIC). Belgrave serves as the RIC for the College and reviews and provides feedback to the search committee at each of the four stages.
Belgrave, Malat and Danielle Hairston, director of human resources, developed additional guidelines for conducting an inclusive search in CHS. These guidelines accompany the SRP, which has two parts. The diversity of the search committee is reviewed in the SRP Part 1 to ensure that search committee members have diverse identifiers (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, employee class, seniority of a faculty member, content expertise and key stakeholders). The SRP Part 1 also focuses on the job ad description to ensure its language is inclusive and attractive to diverse candidates. SRP Part 2 requires a review of the diversity of the applicant pool (SRP, Part 2A), a review of the diversity of the first round interview candidates (SRP, Part 2B) and a review of the diversity of the final candidates (SRP, Part 2C). To date, over two dozen CHS faculty searches have participated in the SRP. Preliminary observations suggest that faculty search committees are more diverse, and inclusive ads encourage applications from diverse candidates. An assessment of the SRP, especially with respect to the diversity of interview pools and final selection, is forthcoming.
EID and Annual Faculty Report
Many faculty in CHS engage in EID activity that is often unreported or acknowledged. Thus, EID activities in teaching, scholarship and service were added categories to the 2021 faculty report form and served as a pilot to capture what faculty are doing and to make recommendations for how EID can be reported in future faculty annual report forms. A database of each unit's EID activities in teaching, scholarship and service was compiled. Findings show that about 75% of CHS faculty engaged in at least one EID-related teaching activity. Adding a diversity statement to the syllabus and updating courses to be more inclusive in course materials, information delivery and grading were the activities most frequently reported. Close to 50% of faculty engaged in EID-related scholarship and service. The most often reported scholarship activity was mentoring underrepresented and minority students in scholarship. In terms of service, faculty reported participating in departmental EID committees. Many faculty members also served on committees at the college or university level that dealt with EID. Although there was variation among units, most CHS faculty participated in some EID activities, with the majority of faculty promoting EID in their classes. Recommendations from this report will be made to inform future reporting of EID activities in faculty report forms.
(Goal 1, 5)
Malat appointed Christopher Burdett, Ph.D., as special assistant to the dean in fall 2021 and charged him with identifying term faculty concerns. Term faculty constitute nearly 40% of the College’s full-time faculty, yet term faculty are often under-resourced and marginalized - if not maligned - despite their teaching, service and research contributions. During the 2021-22 academic year, the dean’s office increased efforts to address term faculty concerns as part of its EID mission.
This important work unfolded in two phases: First, Burdett conducted a comprehensive survey of term faculty to ascertain sentiments regarding a range of issues, including workplace well-being, culture, collegiality, compensation, professional development and job security. The survey was a success because of the comparatively high response rate (+50%) and the actionable items derived from the results.
The second phase converged on immediate, concrete initiatives to enable professional development and energize term faculty about prospects for career advancement in the College. The Term Professional GROWTH Award supports projects and skill/product development related to teaching and service through a course release and up to $1,400 in funding. Following a call for applications in the spring of 2022, the dean’s office bestowed the award upon eight recipients, whose work will begin during the 2022-23 academic year. Alongside the GROWTH Award, the dean’s office allocated $2,500 to professional development grants for teaching-related activities in EID. The dean tasked the College’s IDEC Committee with creating and curating the grant program, which will launch during the fall 2022.
Each initiative is the first of its kind in the College dedicated to term faculty. They are direct responses to lessons from the survey, and they affirm the College’s general commitment to our term faculty. Directors and chairs have been encouraged to apply lessons from the survey at the unit level. Meanwhile, the dean’s office continues to pursue opportunities to address equity and inclusion of term faculty, such as through structured listening sessions and formal mentorship programming.
CHS Initiatives and Special Interest Groups
CHS initiatives and special interest groups contribute to student inclusion and faculty and staff involvement in efforts that promote equity and inclusion. One of these initiatives, African American Male Initiative, has existed in the College for several years, while others are new.
African American Male Initiative
The African American Male Initiative (AAMI) is a standing committee in CHS seeking to understand boundaries that hinder African American male students' academic and other achievements at VCU. A group of dedicated faculty and staff from across the College strive to create opportunities and programming that will lead to the successful retention of and degree attainment by Black male students.
On April 17, 2021, the AAMI hosted the third annual Black Male Symposium in partnership with VCU's Black Education Association. The symposium series was focused on the theme, "Black Men's Attainment Post Pandemic." Fifty-six members of the VCU community (students, faculty and staff) participated in a virtual program for a timely conversation about significant issues and challenges impacting African American male students, including mental health, institutional and systemic racism, and community-building through social engagement. These topics were highlighted in an interactive panel discussion and brought home by a keynote speaker. The panelists were Henry Lewis III, an entrepreneur, actor, and health educator; Ronnie Sidney II, a therapist, author, and VCU alumnus; and Jeffery Wilson, Ph.D., associate dean of the VCU Graduate School and associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership. Moderating the discussion was Roy Roach, a dynamic and thought-provoking higher education specialist at VCU. The feature keynote speaker was Reginald Stroble, Ph.D., VCU alumnus, and diversity and inclusion practitioner.
Members of the African American Male Initiative:
- Chair: Christopher Brooks, Ph.D., World Studies
- Co-chair 2021: Alvin Bryant, Biology
- Charlene Crawley, Ph.D., Chemistry
- Michael Hall, Ph.D., English
- Mychal Smith, Ph.D., Chemistry
Latinx Interest Group
(Goals 1, 3, 4)
The CHS Latinx interest group was formed in 2021 to support and advance the work of Latinx faculty, staff and students in CHS. The goal is to help the Latinx community (faculty, staff and students) realize their full potential.
The Latinx group met with Malat and Belgrave during the fall 2021 term, and about 20 individuals were in attendance. A LISTSERV was established, and co-chairs sent monthly emails with information about Latinxs (ex: cultural events, local and national news, etc.). The group had a video presentation with Oswaldo Moreno, Ph.D., director of El Centro LatinX at VCU, and he discussed a campus survey on the climate of Latinxs at VCU. The group had a fundraiser for Safe Harbor Women's Women's Shelter (many Latinx women are served at this facility) in collaboration with Mary's Empanadas. The co-chairs also distributed messages regarding plans for the upcoming fall semester that feature little-known Latinx figures in the U.S.
Co-Chairs: Anita Nadal, School of World Studies and CHS Dean's Office, and Matilde Moros, Ph.D., Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Race and Racism Interest Group
In the fall of 2021, a Race and Racism Interest Group was established. Twenty-six faculty members interested in race, racism and anti-racism make up the group. After the group's first meeting, a LISTSERV was created to share readings, articles and other materials on racism and race. The group was interested in reading and discussing a shared book, exchanging pertinent projects and information, asking for comments from colleagues, and offering a source of information on the demographics of student populations.. A survey was administered to ascertain further interest. The majority of individuals who responded supported planning, participating in or attending a brown bag lunch/panel or group discussions to examine the most recent research on race, racism and anti-racism. They were interested in additional activities about the role of languages in scholarship, strategies for eradicating various forms and levels of racism in higher education, narrativization and intersectionality, grant proposal ideas that center on race, racism and anti-racist scholarship, and a screening of "My Name is Pauli Murray".
Co-Chair: David Chan, Ph.D., Department of Mathematics
Racial Literacy Course (CSIJ)
(Goal 1, 2, 7)
CHS faculty (Mignonne Guy, Ph.D., from the Department of African American Studies, and Amy Rector, Ph.D., from the School of World Studies) led efforts to add a racial literacy requirement into the foundations of the general education curriculum to begin for entering undergraduate students in the fall of 2023. This course was advanced by the racial literacy task force and voted on by the General Education Curriculum Committee. Courses that fulfill the racial literacy requirement will ask students to identify, engage and contextualize ongoing racialized power and privilege structures. These courses will introduce the social construction of race and racism as political, social and cultural inventions.
Equity leaders are faculty and staff in CHS who chaired or co-chaired organizations and committees that strengthen diversity, inclusion and equity at the College or university level. Equity leaders are recognized for their dedication to advancing equity and inclusion, which is often time-consuming, uncompensated and beyond regular departmental service. Belgrave established equity leaders as individuals who (a) chair or co-chair a group or committee at the College or university level, (b) hold regular meetings, and (c) facilitate or host activities/events/special meetings each semester.
The CHS equity leaders for 2021 were Fernando A. Tenjo, Ph.D. (Biology), co-chair of the Men of Color University Committee; Shawn Jones, Ph.D. (Psychology), and Christine Booker, Ph.D. (Kinesiology and Health Sciences), co-chairs of IDEC; and Christopher Brooks, Ph.D., president of the Black Education Association.
Racial Equity Survey
(Goal 1, 2)
A Grace E. Harris Leadership Team, in collaboration with Belgrave, conducted a racial equity assessment of CHS for their group project. A racial equity survey was disseminated to all faculty and staff in CHS during the summer of 2021, and 216 faculty and staff completed the survey – 148 faculty and 66 staff. The group presented the findings and recommendations at the GEHLI final meeting in October 2021.
The survey revealed several notable findings: Overall, there was a majority disagreement with the statement, “I have to work harder than others of different racial/ethnic backgrounds to be valued equally in my school or department.” Nonwhite respondents were more likely to agree with this statement than white respondents. Also, African American respondents were more likely than white respondents to agree with the definition of racial equity (i.e., “Racial equity (or racial justice) is the systematic fair treatment of all people, resulting in fair opportunities and outcomes for everyone and includes the presence of values and systems that ensure fairness and justice.”).
Recommendations from the group include: developing materials on how to discuss race in a safe space at work, addressing trust issues and building an antiracist environment, and evaluating promotion and evaluation plans through a racial equity lens.
Members of the GEHL CHS Racial Equity Assessment Team:
- Nayef Chahib, M.D.,Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Richmond
- Nicole Damico, Ph.D., Nurse Anesthesia, College of Health Professions
- Ross Losapio, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Relations
- Joycelyn Mahone, University Development and Alumni Relations
- Virginia McGhee, VCU Health System
- Meera Mehtaji, Ph.D., Counseling and Special Education, School of Education
- Ryan Patton, Art Education, School of the Arts
In recognition of the economic challenges brought by the pandemic, and the long-standing economic challenges many of our students face, we focused on building the CHS Student Emergency Fund. In fiscal year 2022, a total of $5,522 was awarded to students – with awards ranging from $200 to $2,000 to address students’ emergent health, housing and certification needs. These awards allowed students to continue in their studies and complete their degree, even when faced with unexpected financial setbacks.
In addition to the CHS Student Emergency Fund, we are proud to have awarded over $470K in traditional scholarships, which are essential for equitable access to education. We are also pleased to provide equitable access to experiential learning through the Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Endowed Fund. Baldacci Scholars spend a summer studying abroad, working in an unpaid internship or pursuing another learning opportunity, and in doing so, advance their understanding of the world.
Community engagement is core to the identity of CHS and integrally connected to EID activities. Faculty, staff and students are engaged and contributing citizens in the local community, and the recipients of an array of resources and services provided by the dynamic and vibrant Richmond metro community. The full scope of community engagement is beyond the scope of this report and is only briefly highlighted. Anita Nadal, a faculty fellow for community engagement, was appointed in the fall of 2021 to lead and support several community engagement activities. Nadal responded to requests from community partners for student support, paired students with community partners, developed workshops to enrich internship experiences in collaboration with VCU's Career Services, led a coat drive for an underserved community that involved several CHS units, and raised funds for Safe Harbor Women's Shelter with collaboration from CHS faculty and staff. Additionally, she worked closely with the College's advisory committees, among many other activities.
Belgrave and Nadal established two advisory committees: the Community Action Council and the Community Advisory Committee in 2021. The overall mission of the Community Action Council is to advance partnerships between faculty, staff and students within CHS and local community organizations, businesses and governmental entities. The Community Action Council members are stakeholders from the Richmond metro community vested in collaboration and partnerships with CHS.
The CHS Community Advisory Committee is an internal committee. It consists of staff, faculty and students in CHS whose mission is to "increase awareness of and responsiveness to community-identified needs through participatory, collaborative practices." Members of this committee are Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., CHS Dean's Office; Susan Bodnar-Deren, Ph.D., Sociology; Deborah Butler, Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention; Robin Everhart, Ph.D., Psychology; Anita Nadal, World Studies and CHS Dean's Office, Patricia Michelsen-King, World Studies, Joann Richardson, Ph.D., Kinesiology and Health Sciences, Mychal Smith, Ph.D., Chemistry, and Alexander Wynn, Psychology. The external Community Action Council and the internal Community Advisory Committee work together to advance community collaboration and partnerships.
Centers in CHS promote EID in various ways, from grants on reducing disparities to training underrepresented and minoritized students to working with local community organizations and recommending systematic changes to funding agencies. The centers in CHS also host workshops, webinars and other presentations that amplify minoritized populations' voices and increase awareness of EID-related topics. Activities in these centers are briefly described below.
Humanities Research Center
(Goals 2, 4, 7)
The “Race, Ethnicity and Social Justice” speaker series started at the VCU Humanities Research Center (HRC) in January 2021 with the arrival of Cristina Stanciu, Ph.D. as its new director. The series seeks to address questions of race, inequality and discrimination in scholarship in the humanities and in the communities VCU serves. The series held a graduate student symposium in critical race theory in May 2021, a workshop on “Mentoring Underrepresented Minority Faculty” in October 2021, led by Archana Pathak, Ph.D., as well as a project presentation of “Richmond Racial Equity Essays” by Meghan Gough, Ph.D., and Ebony Walden, also in October 2021. In the Meet VCU Authors series, which showcases recent book publications by VCU faculty, we welcomed Belgrave. She presented her recent book, “African American Families: Research, Theories, and Practice.” Other events include:
- “Contagion Aesthetics: Modernist Literature and the Influenza Pandemic,” Elizabeth Outka, Ph.D., University of Richmond
- “Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York,” Carl Suddler, Ph.D., Emory University
- “Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement,” Cathleen Cahill, Ph.D., Penn State University
- “Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound,” Daphne Brooks, Ph.D., Yale University
In spring 2021, the HRC partnered with the VCU Office of Health Equity to design a series of events under the rubric History and Health, Racial Equity at VCU; in fall 2021, HRC presented “Fundamentals of Race and Racism” and “Race, Space and Power in Richmond, V.A.” In fall 2021, HRC dedicated many events to a new initiative, On Native Ground, which aimed to make visible Indigenous and other minoritized histories across the U.S. In November 2021, the HRC launched a new initiative, the Karenne Wood Native Writer/Artist Residency, announced at the Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival, which will welcome the first writer/artist in residence in fall 2022. Lectures for this initiative include:
- “Latinx Precarity, Permissibility, and Persistence,” Christopher Gonzalez, Ph.D., Utah State University
- “Not a Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy and a History of Erasure and Exclusion,” Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Ph.D.
- “Savage Conversations,” LeAnne Howe, Choctaw writer and artist, Eidson Distinguished Professor, University of Georgia
Throughout 2021, the Humanities Research Center continued a series of community-engaged activities, which included support for the Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival, the only Native film festival on the East Coast (November 2021); launch of the On Native Ground Initiative—faculty and staff group, with the participation of community members, including representatives of two Native nations (Pamunkey and Nottoway tribe of Virginia); and launch of the Land Acknowledgment Working group.
Christine Stanciu, Ph.D., director
Center for Positive Youth Development
(Goals 2, 4, 5, 7)
The mission of the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development (CHI) is to promote youth's healthy, safe and positive development, with a particular emphasis on historically marginalized youth. CHI's contributions to EID are interwoven in its research, mentoring, teaching and service activities as the faculty are engaged in multiple projects that directly address justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. In 2021, CHI faculty collaborated on projects resulting in over $20 million in new research funding, many of which address EID issues (e.g., racial socialization in multiracial families, emotion regulatory flexibility among African American youth, the role of human-animal interaction in coping with stress among sexual and gender emerging adults, and participatory action research to address gun-related attitudes, behaviors and practices among young Black men in underserved communities).
CHI also continues its 20-year record as one of only five CDC-funded National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention. Youth account for the majority of homicide victims in Richmond, V.A., and African American youth are disproportionately impacted. The CHI's project will support the implementation and evaluation of complementary participatory strategies for youth violence prevention in three communities in Richmond experiencing economic disadvantage.
A commitment to EID is also reflected in CHI's mentoring activities for faculty, postdocs, and graduate and undergraduate students. CHI's faculty mentorship program pairs faculty mentees with CHI faculty mentors who support professional development and grant writing, and build connections and collaborations with CHI faculty. A group of 10 faculty, many from minoritized backgrounds, have participated in this program. CHI also runs a weekly research seminar series that fosters collaborations and is primarily geared toward postdoctoral fellows and graduate students; a high percentage are from under-represented backgrounds.
CHI recently instituted the Summer CREATE Program (Community-based Research, Education and Training Experience Program) -- a 10-week in-residence program co-directed by Chelsea Williams, Ph.D., and Fantasy Lozada, Ph.D. The program provides interactive, mentored research training opportunities to historically excluded students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Participants learn about and engage in community-based methodology with Black and Brown communities. The goal is to close the gap in the disparate number of underrepresented students who pursue graduate education in STEM fields by providing knowledge and skills that encourage and support a path toward STEM careers.
Albert Farrell, Ph.D., director
Center for the Study of Tobacco Products
(Goals 2, 7)
The Center for the Study of Tobacco Products (CSTP) re-wrote their mission statement and reported the changes to their external advisory board and federal partners. These include new goals that support equity and an end to oppression based on race, class, sexual orientation and gender. Since publishing the new mission statement, CSTP has taken several steps in support of it. They include:
- Focusing on redressing structural racism at NIH. They have published two papers related to this theme. The first was an editorial in the Journal of Adolescent Behavior (Guy et al., 2021) calling for NIH to include at least 13% African-American/Black (AA/B) scientists as reviewers in every scientific review group (SRG), prioritize topics of relevance to AA/B scientists, and commit to ongoing analysis of factors contributing to systemic racism in academic science. The second was an empirical report investigating the barriers that AA/B scientists might face if invited to participate in an NIH SRG (Soule et al., 2022).
- Increasing educational opportunities related to social justice and health equity. In April 2021, CSTP supported a campus-wide virtual event that featured Alan Goodman, Ph.D., professor of biological anthropology at Hampshire College, who discussed “Racism, Not Race,” followed by a moderated discussion with Brooks and Rector from the School of World Studies.
- Prioritizing social justice and health equity in currently funded tobacco regulatory science. CSTP has prioritized social justice and health equity as seen in several publications, including Breland et al.’s (2022) “Centering racial justice for Black/African American and indigenous American people in commercial tobacco product regulation” and Sawyer et al.’s (2022) “Nicotine/tobacco use disparities among transgender and gender diverse adults...”. It can also be seen in several recent grant awards to CSTP faculty, including R01DA050996 (MPI=Barnes/Cobb) entitled “Predicting effects of ENDS flavor regulations on tobacco behavior, toxicity, and abuse liability among African American menthol smokers” and F30DA057047 entitled “The abuse liability of a novel heated tobacco product (IQOS) and its feasibility as a menthol cigarette substitute (PI=White; Sponsor=Barnes/Eissenberg).
- Prioritizing social justice and health equity in future tobacco regulatory science. Perhaps most important, CSTP recently submitted a competitive renewal application for another five years of NIH/FDA funding that will allow us to focus wholly on health equity in tobacco regulation (U54DA036105; MPI=Eissenberg/Breland/Guy; $19.39 million total costs). The proposed work aims to reduce tobacco use disparities in AA/B people and sexual and gender minoritized people (and the intersectionalities of these two groups).
Thomas E. Eissenberg, Ph.D., director
Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention
(Goals 2, 4)
The Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention (CCEP) was established in 2001 to conduct research and provide innovative, evidence-based programs and interventions to reduce health disparities and promote healthy youth and families. The CCEP focuses on research and programs that reduce health disparities and increase health equities among African Americans and other health disparity populations. The CCEP works closely with community partners to conduct research and programs in areas related to: the prevention of risky sexual behaviors and drug use and abuse; addressing cultural, psychosocial, and behavioral contributions to health outcomes (e.g., cancer, tobacco, cardiovascular disease, etc.); and the promotion of social and psychological well-being. Another focus of the CCEP is to train students in conducting culturally informed and community-engaged research.
All activities of the CCEP integrate EID, from providing training to minoritized students in community-engaged research to working with community partners to understand and address disparities affecting their communities. Faculty at CCEP participate in a joint data-sharing project called “Exploring Well-being, Risk, Protective And Cultural Factors In Black Youth And Parents.” This project aims to identify the unique and interactive influence of risk and protective factors, focusing on race-related cultural factors on various aspects of health and well-being. Data collected from 250 Black adolescents ages 12-17 and their caregivers from the Richmond metro area is used by faculty and students to develop papers and presentations. Staff at the CCEP work with the Wilder School Research Institute for Social Equity (RISE) on initiatives such as the distribution of Covid vaccine in under-resourced communities and food access. The CCEP also provides administrative support for Lozada’s NSF-funded grant on “Understanding Emotion Regulatory Flexibility among African American Adolescents.”
Deborah Butler (associate director) regularly communicates with community partners to identify ways to offer support. For example, staff from the CCEP recently responded to the request for masks for senior residents and volunteers to assist in an on-site pantry in a low-resource community in Eastern Henrico.
Faye Z. Belgrave, Ph.D., director
This report highlights new and existing EID projects at CHS. However, we must be aware that continued improvements in policies and procedures are required if we are to maintain our trajectory toward becoming an equitable college. Despite the global pandemic, the status of the economy and challenges in higher education, CHS must continue to make changes. In fact, applying an equity lens to decisions is even more critical in difficult times. With this in mind, we make several recommendations for how to achieve our mission and have a more equitable college.
- More effort is needed to ensure that CHS faculty more closely reflect the demographic characteristics of our students. Research shows that representation improves student success. Currently, 38% of students in CHS come from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. Yet only 17% of faculty are from these groups. In some units, the gap between faculty and student diversity is much higher. The result is that some underrepresented minority students attend VCU without being taught by a professor who looks like them. The Strategic Recruitment Plan (SRP) implemented in 2021 is one tool for increasing representation. We will evaluate the SRP, including whether the SRP has resulted in more diverse hires. In addition to recruitment, retention of faculty is essential. We had success in retaining faculty of color during this period, which can only happen when faculty feel comfortable in their units. Chairs and directors play an important role in establishing a climate of inclusion, and the dean’s office should support their efforts. As we evaluate our efforts, we will adjust and make additional recommendations for how the College can increase the diversity of its faculty.
- Students also need to feel welcomed and included in their classes and disciplines. Leaders for Inclusive Learning is a successful initiative for furthering inclusive pedagogy across the College. For the next stage of the initiative, chair/director leadership is required to ensure that recommendations from LIL participants are implemented in units. Additionally, we must continue to elicit student feedback through surveys and focus groups to respond to their experiences and continue to communicate the results to faculty.
- Although the staff was involved in the majority of the initiatives and programs discussed in this report (e.g., unit-level EID committees, IDEC, CHS strategic goals, community engagement), more focus is necessary to address staff EID concerns. Many staff members express low morale and feel that they are treated inequitably despite helping to improve EID in their unit, college and university. Malat implemented a new staff professional development fund in 2021 and made many salary adjustments, but that is not enough. It is crucial to expand efforts to foster a more inclusive work environment and implement new opportunities for professional advancement for staff. The dean’s office should continue to work with the Classified and Academic Professionals Council to identify concrete steps to improve the experiences of staff.
- We must continue to improve faculty workload equity. Recognizing and rewarding faculty who do EID work, which has been historically undervalued and under rewarded, improves workload inequities. Including EID work on faculty annual review forms is a start and will allow consideration of this work in faculty assessment. Moving forward, we should ask the faculty to consider whether EID activities should be given weight in promotion and tenure reviews. The dean’s office can facilitate this work by providing models from other institutions that have already implemented this change. In addition, the dean’s office can support units that wish to implement evidence based strategies for reducing inequitable workloads.
- More attention is needed to address the concerns of term faculty who report experiencing inequity. In addition to the new GROWTH awards, the report that Burdett prepared includes several recommendations that could be considered in the 2022-23 academic year, including sponsoring term faculty learning communities, providing true multi-year employment contracts, adding term faculty representation on promotion committees, increasing leadership and mentorship opportunities for term faculty, and continuing the salary adjustments that Malat began.
- The majority of units have formed EID committees, which is encouraging because each committee can address problems unique to its unit. At the same time, increased interdepartmental collaboration and collaboration with IDEC would allow units to share limited resources, share successes and provide support for one another. Additionally, to reap the benefits of these groups for faculty, staff and students at CHS, specific interest groups (such as the African American Male Initiative, Latinx Interest Group, and Race and Racism Group) will need additional support and action. The dean’s office can catalyze these synergies by connecting groups and identifying resources.
- Finally, to model, reinforce and inspire each other, we must raise awareness about the excellent work people in CHS do to strengthen EID. As an illustration, the CHS centers included in this report have thoughtfully reacted to the demand for fairness and justice inside and outside of VCU. Similarly, EID has also been considerably integrated into several departments, schools and initiatives intentionally and sustainably. The dean’s office could provide resources to celebrate successful efforts across the College. Chairs, academic directors and center directors and/or leaders of EID committees could convene to share challenges and successes in a spirit of collaboration and growth.
This report was prepared by Faye Z. Belgrave, Ph.D. associate dean for equity and community partnerships, and Mary Johnson executive administrative assistant and office manager. Jennifer Malat, Ph.D., associate vice president for development, provided leadership for building a more equitable college during her deanship and assisted in developing this report. Appreciation is also extended to Alexis Finc, communication director, for her review.