An Update from the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) Subcommittee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Excellence

Share story

Dear HMC Community,

We hope your semesters have started out well. We, the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) subcommittee on diversity, inclusion, and equity (DIEC), also known as Nancy Lape and Erika Dyson, would like to update you on our work this summer, and some things we have in the works for this semester and beyond.

First, what is our subcommittee?

We are two of six elected members of the FEC. We started work after the end of the last spring semester, and will continue through the fall, involving the full FEC in our planning and processes.

As a subcommittee of a faculty committee, it is worth mentioning that many of our questions and tasks have focused on the faculty, but we have made sure to include the broader community as much as possible in our research and planning. We are only two of the many people and groups working on increasing diversity and improving inclusion and equity on our campus, and it is our hope that our fellow travellers will provide updates about their work on this website as well.

What did we do?

We began the summer by talking with community members and creating a charge for ourselves. In particular, we met with Sumi Pendakur, Dagan Karp, and Ray Levy, who helped us to focus the list of questions that we spent the rest of the summer researching. Some of these questions came out of the protests and resulting community discussions last spring, and others were subsequent suggestions from various community members. The list includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Obtaining an ombudsperson for the college.
  2. A website for explaining bias incident reporting policies and procedures on our campus and in the consortium.
  3. Increasing faculty diversity.
  4. Diversity, inclusion, and equity practices at other colleges, including policies related to review, promotion, and tenure (RPT).
  5. Best practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings for all community members.
  6. More transparency relating to diversity efforts on campus.

In addition to research, we also talked with many of you. Each of us had many conversations with students, faculty, staff, and alumni over the summer and, starting in August, we conducted formal interviews with 25 faculty and staff members before school began. We also consulted with ASHMC leadership about similar interviews being conducted with students once the school year began.

The formal interviews were aimed at helping us understand what some of our biggest challenges and opportunities as a community will be moving forward. If you would like to know a little more about our methodology and the questions that were asked, see August 9 interview email. We are still coding these interviews, and will report out the themes that emerge with the community in the coming weeks.

What answers did we find?

Bias incident reporting

  • A website explaining existing policies related to reporting bias incidents is in process.
  • A committee began work over the summer, but because of a few leadership transitions on campus — (Dean of the Faculty, Senior Director for Human Resources, Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity) — the project was put on pause. With the help of Dana Nagengast, our new Senior Director for Human Resources, work has started again, and we will hopefully have something to report back soon.

Increasing faculty diversity

  • Our erstwhile Dean of the Faculty, Jeff Groves, and our current Dean of the Faculty, Lisa Sullivan, put forward a proposal to the Mellon foundation for supporting efforts in this direction. We will report back on this very soon.
  • As for upcoming searches, academic departments have rededicated themselves to complying with policies and guidelines already in place at the college, some of which can be found in the Faculty Notebook and others in memoranda outlining best practices for search committees.
  • Departments are expected to work closely with the Associate Dean of Institutional Diversity and the Associate Dean of Diversity to create consistent protocols that reflect our college’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at each step of the search process. The memorandum of best practices touches many of these steps, including writing the job ad, selecting and evaluating the applicant pool, training the search committee, and identifying candidates who not only come from minoritized groups, but also have demonstrated commitment to inclusive pedagogies and other diversity efforts.

Diversity, inclusion, and equity practices at other colleges, specifically policies related to review, promotion, and tenure (RPT)

  • Embedding criteria related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in standards for promotion and tenure is a long-term project, which, should we attempt it at HMC, will involve multiple members of our community, many discussions across our campus, and, most likely, a change to our Faculty Notebook.
  • We have reached out to key people at other institutions to learn about their criteria and processes for evaluating faculty members’ efforts to foster inclusive practices and to increase opportunity, equity, and diversity at their schools.
  • In general, what we have found is that many colleges and universities are, like us, in an information-gathering stage, while a few others have already implemented changes to their practices and RPT criteria.
  • Some schools who have moved in this direction include:

Best practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) trainings for all community members

Our research on this front was centered around the following questions:

  • Should such training be mandatory?
    • Many studies find that mandatory training is not effective, and may even be counterproductive, resulting in increased bias. This finding is not unanimous; a few experts have found that mandatory training is effective in changing behaviors, because the threat of litigation or other consequences for employees prompts them alter their treatment of others, at least for a while. Others argue that mandatory training sends a clear message to employees of institutional support for diversity, which can have some short-term influence on attitudes. However, a large number of studies show that mandatory training also builds resentment, participants tend not to retain or use what they learned, and improvements to attitudes and behaviors do not last long. If you are interested in seeing some of the primary literature on this topic, please check out the “What We are Reading (and Listening To)” section of the Inclusive Excellence and the Curriculum website (described below), and studies by Bezrukova, Spell, Perry, and Jehl (2016), and Roberson, Kulik, and Pepper (2003).
    • On the basis of our research, therefore, we do not recommend mandatory diversity training at HMC.
  • What would be more effective: stand-alone sessions or a multi-pronged approach?
    • If by effective we mean that the trainings help to create long-term change in institutional culture, individual attitudes, levels of motivation, and behaviors, and also help increase people’s desires to keep learning, then a multi-pronged approach makes the most sense.
    • Researchers argue that trainings seem to work best when they are part of an integrated, varied, and complementary “portfolio” of diversity-related efforts. Other effective efforts include, but are not limited to, mentoring programs, institution-supported social networking groups for minoritized community members, clear recruitment policies for increasing diversity, and the integration of diversity education and inclusive pedagogies into the curricular and co-curricular aspects of educational institutions in particular.
    • If we want to have a campus climate with less bias, more effective and inclusive teaching for our diverse population, then we need to have multi-pronged efforts and commitment to succeed.
  • What are best practices in DEI training?
    • The consensus among researchers is that the best DEI training results from a process of needs assessment, community input, integrated diversity efforts, and many opportunities for learning and practice.
    • The experts we have consulted with so far also stress the importance of building capacity among those already inclined toward DEI work who can then bring their colleagues and peers into the conversation with them. Additionally, when there are campus-wide or large events there will be people in place who can help facilitate productive participation in these events.

More transparency for diversity efforts on campus.

  • The Inclusive Excellence and the Curriculum website was put up last year to provide a central place to report out on DEI efforts on campus.
  • This semester, Tim Hussey and Pete Hobley have added and will add a few features to the website that we believe will make it easier for community members to find out what has been happening and to share resources.
  • The features include:
    • A calendar that will combine listings for events and trainings offered by the Office of Institutional Diversity, the Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning, the 5Cs Working Group on Diversity, the FEC, and any other organization or group that has relevant events to publicize.
    • On the left of the Inclusive Excellence and the Curriculum website you will find a link for a “What We are Reading (and Listening To)” page. This page contains a list, generated by our community members, of books, articles, podcasts, and other media that are of interest to those involved in diversity efforts. If you would like to add what you are reading and why it may be of interest, fill out the form linked to the page.
    • Coming soon, we will also have a “What We are Doing” section of the site. This feature was the inspiration of Dagan Karp, who quite rightly recognized that many in our community are already doing important work here at HMC, in the consortium, and elsewhere in the world to increase access and equity in education, to develop inclusive pedagogies and policies, and otherwise work to promote inclusive excellence. We hope that this section of the site will enable people to see what others are doing, and to make connections, offer help, or otherwise support each other in their work.

What is happening now and next?

  • First, we want to stress that other individuals, groups, and centers are providing trainings, workshops, and programming aimed at increasing inclusive pedagogical practices, promoting equity, and reducing bias on our campuses. For just one example, the Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning has run workshops attended by HMC faculty on addressing microaggressions in the classroom, course design for inclusive teaching, and will run a panel discussion October 12 on “What Faculty and Staff Should Know about First-Generation College Students.” The Office of Institutional Diversity continues to offer programming that is relevant for faculty, staff, and students, and individual departments are taking steps to improve their own practices, including the creation of a diversity committee in the Engineering Department, and the Mathematics Department is involving students in the restructuring of the math core. These are only a few of the ongoing efforts, and, again we hope that updates and announcements on these and other initiatives are posted to the Inclusive Excellence website soon.
  • As for FEC efforts, to begin assessing community needs, the FEC ran a community workshop run by Sharon Gerbode, Nancy Lape, and Erika Dyson on Thursday, 9/7/17 entitled “Envisioning effective equity training at Mudd.” We had a great turnout of students, faculty, and staff, and we are in the process of enlisting a small group composed of volunteers to help us analyze the input we received. A summary of the community input received during this workshop and suggestions for next steps will be posted shortly on the Inclusive Excellence website.
  • To provide opportunities for learning and practice, and building capacities on our campus, some initial offerings include:
    • DEI trainings of various durations and foci will begin being incorporated into regular faculty meetings, starting this fall. The first of these, on September 28 will be a two-hour “holistic advising” workshop for faculty, led by Darryl Yong.
      • The goal of this workshop is to help faculty develop some strategies and skills to enable them to connect with students in meaningful and productive ways, to more quickly identify when students are in need of more support , and to help them feel more connected to the HMC community.
      • A large number of faculty and students have identified the need for such training on our campus, so we thought it would appropriate to start with it.
    • Twelve faculty members were invited to participate in a five-week course on “Courageous Leadership” led by Dr. Kathy Obear, which began September 15. This course is aimed at building capacity for managing institutional change and having difficult and productive conversations on our campus. We were not able to accommodate all who wanted to participate in the course this fall, so we are hopeful we’ll be able to have more community members take the course in the future.
    • We are also planning to bring Dr. Obear to campus to run intensive trainings with small groups of students, staff, and faculty later in the year.
    • Starting in October, a group of faculty and staff will participate in a discussion and reading group, led by Werner Zorman and supported by the Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning. The book they are reading is . . . But I’m NOT a Racist! Tools for Well-Meaning Whites.

We hope that these workshops and other programs will complement rather than compete with the excellent DEI programming being offered by the Office of Institutional Diversity, and The Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning, among others. As we said previously, building capacity for reducing bias and increasing inclusivity and equity across our campus will require a multi-pronged approach to DEI work, and we are grateful to have such dedicated and innovative partners in these efforts.

That is all for now, but please let us know if you have ideas, questions, or comments. And, most of all, thank all of you who worked with us this summer to explore options, to push our thinking in productive directions, to offer your expertise and insights. We are so grateful for your honesty, your time, and your good humor.

All the best,
Erika Dyson and Nancy Lape


  1. Other elected FEC members include Sharon Gerbode, Susan Martonosi, and David Vosburg. Patrick Little, the (also elected) Chair of the Faculty, chairs the FEC. Non-voting, ex officio members include the current ASHMC President Lupe MacIntosh, Dean of the Faculty Lisa Sullivan, Dean of Students Jon Jacobsen, and President Maria Klawe. Our Director of Academic Operations Eric Ditwiler also attends.
  2. Pomona College and Claremont Graduate University (CGU) each have ombudspeople (full-time and part-time respectively), for example.
  3. The Faculty Notebook is a document that contains information about “about a wide range of administrative matters that include general College principles and practices, for example the procedures for faculty appointments, tenure, and faculty governance,” Faculty Notebook 2010, revision 2017.
  4. As such changes would impact directly employment policy at the college, many stakeholders need to be solicited for input before any vote by the faculty can take place on changing RPT criteria. At a minimum, input may be sought from trustees, legal counsel, students, faculty, deans, alumni, and many staff members, including our human resources staff, members of the Office of Institutional Diversity, members of the Division of Student Affairs, among others.
  5. We have also heard happy rumors that the Web Advisory Group, in conjunction with the Intercollegiate Communications Committee (the equivalent of Academic Deans Committee for the lead communications people on each campus), is looking into how to integrate this option in a new Consortium-wide calendar that is slated to launch in the near future.