The mark of a leading university today is its commitment to diversity and inclusiveness and the formation of a campus community which successfully cultivates and nurtures inclusiveness within the various educational, research, and service activities. In creating and maintaining a multicultural constituency of students, faculty and staff, an institution successfully connects with the changing demographics of society and strives to prepare its students to assume leadership positions in an increasingly diverse global society. This reflects one of the highest goals of the University of South Dakota.
In pursuit of the ideals expressed above, USD has embarked on a systematic, strategic, and comprehensive approach to diversity and inclusiveness by embracing the framework of Inclusive Excellence. The goal of Inclusive Excellence is to embed diversity and inclusiveness throughout the institution, including (but not limited to) such elements as demographics (numbers), curriculum, applications, web, policies, art, enrollment, pedagogy, financial resources, diverse learning outcomes, leadership, training, retention, classroom, marketing, technology, research, teaching, athletics, student advising, campus climate, communications, administration, recruitment, hiring, promotion and tenure, assessment, institutional advancement, and evaluation. At USD, we have chosen to integrate diversity and inclusiveness into every part of the University. USD’s goal is to be inclusive of race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, nationality, ability, religion, age, veteran status, and other social dimensions as we go forward as an institution that aspires toward educational excellence.
Last year, the University Senate, the Student Government Association, the Civil Service Council, the Provost Council, and the Executive Council all voted in favor of making Inclusive Excellence a central part of the USD strategic plan. Presently, all the Deans and Vice Presidents have been asked to create diversity committees and to undertake an institutional audit with a call to action of their schools, colleges, and departments to determine how to instill diversity and inclusiveness into their respective domains. This past fall, I formed the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusiveness to assist me in implementing Inclusive Excellence throughout the campus. Ultimately we will instill Inclusive Excellence as a normal practice within every facet of our community.
I am asking that every member of the USD community support Inclusive Excellence by looking for opportunities to practice it and embed it in your own area. Working together as students, faculty and staff, I believe we can make USD a place where everyone feels validated, respected, welcomed and included.
James W. Abbott
The University of South Dakota