“The University of Connecticut is dedicated to excellence demonstrated through national and international recognition. Through freedom of academic inquiry and expression, we create and disseminate knowledge by means of scholarly and creative achievements, graduate and professional education, and outreach.

With our focus on teaching and learning, the University helps every student grow intellectually and become a contributing member of the state, national, and world communities. Through research, teaching, service, and outreach, we embrace diversity and cultivate leadership, integrity, and engaged citizenship in our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. As our state’s flagship public University, and as a land and sea grant institution, we promote the health and wellbeing of citizens by enhancing the social, economic, cultural, and natural environments of the state and beyond.” (University Mission Statement)


The Diversity Task Force was charged to review, assess, and recommend strategies to improve diversity at the University of Connecticut. Through its work during the second half of the 2014-2015 Academic Year, the Task Force found considerable commitment to diversity and inclusion, including a substantial rise in diversity amongst our student population and an impressive depth and breadth of diversity in teaching, outreach and programming. The efforts to promote and enhance UConn diversity include both longstanding and newer initiatives, some campus-wide but even more at the local level, that demonstrate our desire and commitment to become a more diverse, tolerant, inclusive and equitable community. But we also face challenges. There is slower progress with respect to faculty diversification and little progress with staff diversity. In addition, there are concerns about campus climate, including overt acts of intolerance and more subtle micro-aggressions aimed at traditionally underrepresented members of our community.

Through our research, conversations and interviews with sitting Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs),[1] it became clear to the Task Force that there exists a need for a senior leadership role charged with connecting the numerous local initiatives with focused higher-level strategy, investment and accountability to achieve diversity and equity goals. The Task Force is thus pleased to offer six core recommendations:

Icon-arrow-right-bullet1 Build an effective and sustainable diversity infrastructure.

  • o     Hire a Chief Diversity Officer and establish a Diversity Office and website;
  • o     Create a Diversity Council with representation from throughout the university; and
  • o     Modify the name of the existing Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) to Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).
Icon-arrow-right-bullet1 Enhance recruitment and retention efforts of faculty and staff from traditionally underrepresented populations.
Icon-arrow-right-bullet1 Sustain and build upon student diversity successes.
Icon-arrow-right-bullet1 Produce consistent diversity data and information and establish a transparent system of monitoring, evaluation, and accountability.
Icon-arrow-right-bullet1 Build upon, tie together and expand multi-cultural curricula and programming.
Icon-arrow-right-bullet1 Significantly expand diversity fundraising.


The 2014 academic plan—Creating our Future: UConn’s Path to Excellence—identifies diversity as one of four institutional core values, along with innovation, leadership and global engagement. As noted in the plan, “With these core values we remain committed to understanding and solving the most significant societal problems and approach our mission with a commitment to excellence, ethical action, and inclusiveness.”

This report—UConn Diversity—is the product of a 2014-2015 Diversity Task Force (see charge and members in Appendix A) and is also a historical document with multiple voices. Deepening diversity and improving campus climate have long been important objectives for the University of Connecticut. There have been multiple university-wide diversity initiatives and proposals since the turn of the century, including:

  • Report of the Diversity Action Committee (DAC) (2002)
  • Provost’s Commission on Institutional Diversity (PCID) 2011 – 2012 Summary Report
  • Report of the President’s Task Force on Civility and Campus Culture (2013)
  • A Mission Toward Excellence: Diversity and Equity at UConn, 2014-2019 (A Strategic Plan for the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity, Draft report not finalized or submitted)
  • Retention of Underrepresented Faculty and Staff—Senate Diversity Committee Presentation to the University Senate (2015)

Each committee and task force noted above was commissioned to assess our diversity landscape and common themes emerged each time. Like this report, these prior reports note our existing efforts and structural framework aimed at achieving greater diversity and inclusion at UConn. Some also reference particular areas of strength at the University, including most notably, longstanding work of our five Cultural Centers (African American Cultural Center, Asian American Cultural Center, Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center, Rainbow Center, and Women’s Center) and the scholarly work of our academic institutes focused on expanding research and teaching around globalization, area studies and diversity (Africana Studies Institute, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, El Instituto: Institute of Latino/a, Caribbean and Latin American Studies and Human Rights Institute).

However, the prior reports also note challenges. From the Diversity Action Committee report in 2002 to the Diversity Strategic Planning Committee (DSPC) report in 2014, the consensus has been that more robust recruitment and retention efforts are needed. In particular, they stressed that we need to be more intentional about our recruitment efforts and develop mentoring and support programs to facilitate the success of new employees. More recent reports (DSPC and the University Senate Diversity Subcommittee Presentation) have also noted that these efforts should be incorporated into departmental agendas. That is to say that diversity must be a key component of departmental strategic planning with measurable goals and accountability. The Provost’s Commission on Institutional Diversity in 2011-2012 stressed the need for community development, which was the primary thrust of the President’s Task Force on Civility and Campus Culture (2013).

All of these prior diversity committee and task force initiatives emphasized the need to engage our faculty, staff, students and administration in collaborative, open conversations to enhance and build a vibrant and multi-cultural campus community that is inclusive, safe and welcoming. Another common theme throughout these reports (DAC, PCID and DSPC) is the development of diversity leadership courses and programs that contribute to the retention and career development of all faculty and staff and persons from traditionally underrepresented minorities in particular.

A Task Force analysis of the 2002 Diversity Action Committee Report and the draft Strategic Plan (DSPC) of 2013 can be found in Appendix E. The members of the 2002 Diversity Action Committee and the 2013 DSPC initiative are listed in Appendix F. The Provost’s Commission on Institutional Diversity: 2011 – 2012 Summary Report and its membership are listed in Appendix G. The 2014-15 Senate Diversity Committee Report and its membership are listed in Appendix H.




Diversity encompasses the presence and participation of people who differ by age, color, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation, including those with disabilities and from various socio-economic backgrounds. It encompasses not only individuals and groups, but also thoughts and attitudes. The fabric of diversity at our University must be woven within a climate in which diverse views are welcomed and respected and in which there is a commonality that comes from working together to effect constructive change. Diversity can only be sustained and supported as an integral part of institutional excellence when it is actively promoted by the entire University community as part of a larger goal of equity, shared power and responsibility.[2]

UConn aims to become a stronger and more inclusive institution that explicitly promotes respect and understanding, broadens participation among under-represented groups, advances cultural competence, celebrates intellectual openness and multiculturalism, and welcomes varied perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. These values must infuse all of our programs, operations, and activities in instruction, research, and outreach. We understand that these diverse lenses enhance our mission as a public university to provide higher education to the residents of Connecticut and beyond.

To advance diversity and equity at UConn, we also must acknowledge and learn from our past. As with other academic institutions, UConn has shared a history of discrimination and structural inequality, systems of oppression that we must understand, confront, and undo. Over the years, generalized practices and overt incidents of racism and sexism have harmed some members of our community, prompted campus-wide activism for institutional change, and stimulated important conversations about the status of our campus climate. Engaging in an on-going process of learning from those community conversations is a critical element to moving diversity and equity forward at the University of Connecticut.

Our vision is for UConn to cultivate a positive, welcoming, inclusive, and accepting campus climate for individuals from all backgrounds. This UConn culture must celebrate and recognize diverse people and ideas and embrace the voices and experiences of all members of our community. Beyond representational diversity and multiculturalism, we must also promote inclusion and understanding through the values of respect, empathy, and collaborative progress. UConn culture should be proactive in laying a strong foundation for individual and collective growth, equity, justice and civility.




UConn diversity data for the past ten years reveals both progress and challenges with respect to recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff (see Appendix B). Critical to these efforts with respect to faculty and staff in particular is our ability to disaggregate the data down to the level where it matters most: the individual department. Producing, monitoring, and evaluating data, and ensuring accountability at the departmental level will allow us to support recruitment and retention at the level of implementation.

Recruitment, retention and graduation rates of students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds have been the greatest areas of strength over the past ten years. In particular, undergraduate students have seen significant enrollment gains during this period, from 18.8% in fall 2005 to 28.5% in fall 2014. International student enrollment also has seen significant gains during this time period, from 1.1% in 2005 to 4.4% in 2014.   Similarly, for graduate students, minority student enrollment has climbed from 13% to 16.7% since fall 2005. A review of female and male enrollment shows overall consistency, with some small variations, at approximately equal rates of male and female undergraduate and graduate students during the same time period.

The data reflect both areas of progress and areas of challenge with respect to diversification of faculty. During the ten-year time period, the total number of University faculty (permanent tenure and non-tenure track) climbed from 1,286 to 1,550. There were gains seen amongst both female and minority faculty, with female faculty increasing from 35.2% of the faculty workforce in 2004 to 39.3% of the faculty workforce in 2014. Similarly, the percentage of total minority faculty increased from 16.6% in 2004 to 22.8% in 2014. Tenure-track minority faculty increased even further, from 17.5% in 2004 to 24.5% in 2014.

However, a closer and more nuanced review of faculty diversity data during the past three years reveals that there have not been gains among all minority faculty populations, and that gains have been stronger in some Schools and Colleges more than others.[3] In particular, it is notable that Black faculty as a percentage has not increased during the past ten years, and gains within Hispanic faculty have been incremental. UConn’s faculty diversity is, however, consistent with its peers. For example, based on the 2015 Best Colleges Top 30 Public National schools for full-time tenured and tenure-track instructional faculty:

  • UConn ranks 16th out of 30 in minority full-time tenured and tenure track instructional faculty with 21.2% minority
  • UConn ranks 16th out of 30 in underrepresented full-time tenured and tenure track instructional faculty with 8.1% underrepresented minorities (See Appendix B)

While UConn may be situated similarly to its peers, there clearly are gains to be made. In addition, while the total percentage of female faculty has increased during this ten-year period, female faculty remain disproportionately represented in non-tenure track positions. These types of disparities are also reflected in data showing tenure achievement—where White males are disproportionately represented.

One of the largest challenges in terms of diversity success at UConn during the past ten years has been with respect to increasing staff diversity. In the fall of 2005, the total percentage of full-time, permanent staff from minority populations was 14.6%. By the fall of 2014, the total percentage had risen by 2.3%, or to 16.9%. With respect to gender, the total percentage of female staff was 57.4% in the fall of 2005; in the fall of 2014, it was 57.8%. This is one area on campus where recruitment of male staff members would, in many departments across campus, enhance diversity. During that same time period (fall 2005 through fall 2014), the total number of University staff members climbed from 3,095 to 3,266. While there have been notable recent gains in diversity among certain staff levels and within certain departments, including within the executive administrative management level, on balance, staff diversity is the area experiencing the least attention as a diversity focal point and the fewest overall diversity gains at UConn.


Early in its work, the Task Force recognized that there is a tremendous array of diversity and inclusion efforts and programming happening at UConn at a campus-wide and local level. Indeed, one of the most significant challenges faced by the Task Force was in conducting an inventory of all efforts at UConn, given the enormous volume and lack of centralization or connection between many of them. One of the most exciting challenges lies in more fully inventorying and connecting these various initiatives and efforts, which will provide greater support, enhanced communication and more consistent messaging to our students and employees. While this report notes many areas of current programming and diversity efforts, it is not possible to list all ongoing efforts comprehensively within this document. However, Appendix C attempts to capture the array of programming more fully.

In terms of faculty and staff diversity recruitment, the Provost’s Office, Human Resources, and the Office of Diversity and Equity collaborate on various programming efforts to assist departments with their employee recruitment efforts. A major initiative launched by the Provost’s Office this past year is to have each faculty candidate include a diversity statement in their application materials. This is a very strong message to applicants of our institutional commitment. This requirement will be extended to staff recruiting in the near future. HR, ODE and the Provost’s Office work in partnership to provide a robust search committee training program and a Recruitment Ambassador program designed to assist departments by providing a view of our campus community to candidates. Early in 2014, the Provost’s Office, with joint support from the Graduate School, began sponsoring two faculty per semester to travel to partner Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HIS) for research seminars aimed at recruiting underrepresented faculty and graduate students. The focus has been in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and included the Departments of Physics, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Geography. In addition to unit-specific initiatives, there are also Faculty and Staff advocacy groups that meet regularly to discuss issues that impact them as members of the university community and how they can improve both the climate and the university experience. Examples of these affinity groups on campus include the Association of Latino Faculty and Staff (ALFAS) and the African American Faculty and Staff Association.

In terms of student diversity programming, the Task Force found a tremendous range of local level initiatives that have been launched over the years to address matters that impact our campus demographics, climate, and multicultural living and learning communities (see Appendix C). Much of the ongoing programming is happening within the Division of Student Affairs, including but not limited to the longstanding important work occurring under the leadership of UConn’s cultural centers. The student programming and initiatives evidence a strong passion for diversity through many sections of our community. While the Task Force is aware of these numerous examples of existing programs, there are undoubtedly impactful efforts that have not even been recognized or captured by its work this year.





Chief Diversity Officer

The Task Force is impressed with the breadth of diversity efforts and programming at the University. But the need for senior leadership focused on diversity, inclusion and campus climate is also very clear. We propose the hiring of a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) who will be located in the President’s Office. A review of peer and aspirant institutions indicates that the best practice is to have the CDO at a high executive level, such as Associate Vice President or Vice President. This location enables and demonstrates a commitment to the University-wide importance of the office. It is also consistent with the guidelines developed in 2014 by the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE), described as “Standards of Professional Practice for Chief Diversity Officers” (See Appendix D).

The Diversity Office will be the location for leadership in the development and implementation of innovative programming and be responsible, in coordination with the ongoing compliance-related efforts of ODE, for the monitoring and evaluation of diversity efforts and their efficacy. The Diversity Office must develop and maintain a vibrant and interactive UConn Diversity website that is well integrated with effective social media aimed at both students and employees and that connects the various events and initiatives occurring across the University community. There will need to be adequate staffing and a programming budget for this office to be successful. In addition to the CDO position itself, two essential positions include: 1) an assistant to the CDO; and 2) a staff member for programming. We also propose a student-led Diversity Mentors Program led by this office as well.

The CDO and ODE leadership should be closely aligned but with distinct charges and functions, working in close collaboration with one another. ODE should be actively involved in the Diversity Council.

Diversity Council

At the heart of the Task Force’s proposals is the formation of a UConn Diversity Council. Our work this year demonstrated a great need for significantly enhanced coordination among the many individual departments and organizations throughout the University that are working on diversity-related initiatives among students, employees, and in the greater community.

This proposal does not suggest that the council would “own,” supervise, or have authority over the various initiatives; rather, it would be a critical source of regular and robust coordination and support.

As indicated in Figure 1, our proposal is for broad representation from throughout the institution. We also propose that all schools/colleges/units with Council representation have a local diversity committee to develop specific diversity plans that are monitored and evaluated annually. The UConn Council would be chaired by the CDO and be a structure that connects ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ initiatives. To that end, for example, there should be both undergraduate and graduate student representation on the Council.

Figure 1: Proposed Diversity Council. The number of seats and representative units are suggestions. Divisions such as Student Affairs have many units within, and it the Task Force suggests the Division determine its representative units.

ODE Name Change

We propose that the name of the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) be modified to the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) to enhance clarity within the University community regarding the important work and role of the office. As distinct from, but closely aligned to the work of the new CDO and Diversity Council, the name modification to OIE will enhance clarity for the University community regarding its charge, role and responsibilities with respect to ensuring compliance with state and federal equal employment, affirmative action, and civil rights laws through training, broad review and approval within the search and hiring process, investigations of all discrimination and harassment complaints (including sexual violence, intimate partner violence and stalking), and implementation of measures intended to mitigate the effects of demonstrated discriminatory conduct.

The new Chief Diversity Officer and existing head of OIE should be in lateral and highly collaborative positions, closely aligned but with distinct charges and functions clearly explained to the entire University community.



It is critical for the University to continue its ongoing work and progress towards hiring and retaining an increasingly diverse and representative faculty and staff. Particular attention needs to be paid not only to recruitment but also, critically, to retention. We propose the CDO will take the lead, in close collaboration with ODE, HR and other members of the Diversity Council, in University-wide implementation of the following initiatives: 1) create a mentoring program to support underrepresented faculty and staff through the various stages of their career; 2) develop a method of acknowledging and celebrating the progress made by schools, colleges, divisions, departments, committees and individuals who significantly impact in a positive and measureable way the campus climate as it relates to diversity, inclusion and equity; and 3) require each school and college, division and department to have a diversity, recruitment and retention plan to which they are held accountable. The plan should be expected to set goals and identify strategies that guide efforts related to hiring and retaining diverse individuals, the continued development of faculty and staff in cross-cultural competence, and, the acquisition of knowledge related to diversity, inclusion and equity in the community and workplace, including classrooms and laboratories.



We must maintain our vigilance in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented and minority students. Although the needs of undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral scholars are vastly different, there are also common needs as it relates to diversity. Students are the most integral components of a university; it is vital that they experience UConn as a diverse, multi-cultural and welcoming place.

Our retention success would be strengthened by building upon peer mentoring program successes that are located in the cultural centers. Peer mentoring is known to be a strong factor in encouraging students to academic, social, and emotional growth and excellence and in establishing a welcoming rather than isolating climate for students of underrepresented populations. We urge the development of deliberate programming to facilitate matching new students with experienced students. We also recommend cooperation between the area and ethnic studies institutes, the Center for Students Disabilities, the Women’s Center and International Student and Scholar Services.

Representation on the Diversity Council increases the likelihood that underrepresented student voices and experiences will be heard and addressed. We recommend a conscious effort to maintain and empower student representation on the Diversity Council, and to encourage diversity among student representatives. Allied with this we recommend a Standing Student Government Diversity Committee to ensure a connection of the executive level Diversity Council with the student body. A standing Student Government Diversity Committee puts diversity on the regular agenda of student government, increases student ownership and responsibility for diversity and an inclusive climate, and can function as a useful pipeline of student representatives on the Diversity Council. These will increase top-down and bottom-up communication that makes diversity a community effort rather than an imposed directive.

The recognition of economic diversity is also extremely important, as a goal of demographic diversity that excludes recognition of class disparities does not truly address the profound reality of the intersection of class and other demographically underrepresented populations. The Task Force recommends enhancement of need-based scholarships designed to facilitate access to UConn for underrepresented populations.

Other recommendations include:

  • Sustain the resources of the Cultural Centers to continue and enhance quality programming and student services;
  • Provide ongoing diversity training for student leaders with curriculum informed by research, best practices, and participant feedback;
  • Work in collaboration with the Graduate Diversity Officer, The Graduate Diversity Task Force and Graduate Programs on enhancing graduate student recruitment strategies through conference attendance, pipeline creation and membership to national organizations;
  • Work with the Graduate School to create programing that not only supports underrepresented populations but also educates and engages graduate students on issues of diversity; and
  • Develop a relationship with the Graduate Student Advocacy Officer and Graduate Students of Color Association to stay abreast of graduate and post-doctoral scholars’ needs and concerns in relation to diversity.



Strategic decisions about diversity must be based on widely available and publicly accessible diversity data and information. Developing a data and information portal has proven to be a successful strategy not only for information dissemination but also for analyzing the data for strategic decision-making. This is especially true when it comes to higher education, where the operating metrics are constantly changing and evolving in response to shifting demographics. In view of this, the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness (OIRE) is developing a UConn Diversity Portal. The primary purpose of the portal will be to: 1) provide publicly available data on faculty, staff and students based on gender, race and ethnicity; 2) further develop analytical capabilities to understand the disparities in gender, race and ethnicity in salary, service load, and career advancement; 3) track diversification progress over time; and 4) benchmarking with peer and aspirant institutions.

OIRE has already implemented SAS® Visual Analytics along with a Data Warehouse solution that is producing useful results. Figure 2 below shows a timeline with specific milestones and outcomes for the Diversity Portal. The project metrics are being currently developed including the interface for the portal.

Figure 2: OIRE SAS Visual Analytics with Diversity Portal Timeline
Figure 2: OIRE SAS Visual Analytics with Diversity Portal Timeline


The portal will include student, faculty, staff, and sponsored funding data in addition to academic plan metrics. Figure 3, below, shows an example of student enrollment by ethnicity, gender and state of origin for a ten-year period.

Figure 3: Enrollment by Ethnicity, Race and State of Origin
Figure 3: Enrollment by Ethnicity, Race and State of Origin

Qualitative Information about Attitudes and Experiences

Data that document and help monitor progress on improving campus diversity must include more than a quantitative assessment of the presence of diverse demographic characteristics. Although this information is vital, it does not include information about how people perceive and engage with the University’s diverse and multi-cultural environment. There is a need to better understand our campus climate and document how various members of the community feel about their experiences living, working and studying at UConn.

The collection of attitudinal data is also important for institutional self-reflection and growth. We must be able to understand the complex dynamics of community relations, especially as impacted by power and positionality. We propose a regular closed-ended survey on campus climate. This survey should provide critical information about hostile experiences, harassment, and discrimination in classroom, social, programmatic, and work environments, as well as inquire about instances of inclusion, respect and opportunities for interacting with different people positively. For example, for students, we recommend that questions be framed in specified contexts such as experiences in the classroom, with advisors, with instructors, with students, and with staff. We believe it will be more useful for data evaluation if we know the context respondents were considering. For faculty and staff, we recommend that questions be framed in specified contexts such as the office space, meetings, classrooms, training sessions, and break settings. Several useful models already exist on the UConn campus for developing an effective survey instrument. For example, there is the “Faculty and Adjunct Survey” drafted by the UConn School of Social Work in its Academic Plan.

We propose that focus group interviews complement the periodic campus climate survey; this is an effective way to discuss and better understand survey results. For example, Residential Assistants for Social Justice Education have been running “THINK Before you Speak” student forums. In addition, we urge the development of an on-line reporting system, similar to that used at Texas A&M University (http://stophate.tamu.edu) to facilitate anonymous reporting of hate crimes or instances of bias. However, we suggest expanding this system to include the ability for individuals to report positive instances of inclusion, safe and welcoming activities, and opportunities to have positive and meaningful interactions with people unlike themselves. And finally, we propose the Diversity Office be responsible for collecting, disseminating and discussing qualitative diversity information.



UConn’s curricula and programming are both representative of and responsive to the University’s multiple and ever changing constituencies. Curricula and programming are themselves diverse and emerging from units that understand the changing and expanding notion of diversity, cultural responsiveness and multi-culturalism in the US and globally while constantly struggling to understand power, identify discrimination, and support equity.[4]

We propose that the CDO, with input from the Diversity Council, compile and develop a process for maintaining an inventory of educational and intellectual activities (both formal and informal programming and curricula) that educate faculty, staff and students working and living in an increasingly diverse and globally interconnected society. A web presence that makes available information about programming, courses, and opportunities for student, faculty and staff development related to diversity initiatives should be created and maintained. In addition, we recommend that the Diversity Office have appropriate funds and resources to facilitate its own campus-wide diversity programming. These resources could, for example, be in the form of an annual awards event and a pool of competitive internal funding to support innovative initiatives around campus.

All academic units, under the guidance of the CDO and with input from the Diversity Council, Faculty Senate, and other appropriate bodies, should ensure that the campus curricula and faculty instruction support the importance of diversity as critical to the intellectual agenda of the institution. This means fostering educational efforts that support diverse experiences and diverse perspectives through such programs as:

  • Providing a first-year experience that communicates the importance of diversity to students;
  • Implementing a UConn Watches program that resembles and complements UConn Reads;
  • Review the General Education ‘Diversity and Multiculturalism’ requirements and learning outcomes (content area 4) and strengthen this element of the GE curriculum based on findings in the review;
  • Facilitate involvement in Learning Communities (Global House; Humans Rights & Action House, La Casa, etc.) where diversity programming can be enhanced and reach wider freshman and sophomore student audiences;
  • Build on Education Abroad successes for students from diverse backgrounds;
  • Enhance the visibility and programming of the Interdisciplinary Studies Institutes (majors and minors);
  • More fully integrate international student programming; and
  • Continue to strengthen programming that encourages Public Engagement, Service Learning and Community Outreach, particularly within a range of local, state, national, and international contexts.

ODE should continue to receive all necessary support in connection with its facilitation of mandated employee training on diversity awareness and sexual harassment prevention. These important trainings, provided to employees within six months of hire, are conducted in collaboration with the cultural centers.

It is necessary to further support the work of the Division of Student Affairs and Residential Life in their commitment to creating an increasingly inclusive educational institution that attracts, retains, and values talented people from all backgrounds. This includes facilitating the growth of the diversity of students involved in student organizations; sustaining resources in the Division’s five cultural centers and Residential Life to promote campus-wide diversity programs; and providing department-based and campus-wide co-curricular experiences, educational programs, and services that are inclusive and that contribute to student development and the creation of a more welcoming and inclusive campus community. Such efforts would include enhancing peer mentoring, leadership development, community service, campus engagement, and educational programs involving various aspects of diversity and social justice.



There is a need to communicate to the University community on and off campus that diversity is a central part of our mission, commitment and culture. We must also develop stronger relationships with external constituencies and alumni to emphasize UConn’s diversity successes and goals for the future and prioritize fundraising to complement the University’s commitment to diversity funding. The UConn Foundation has already established student scholarships as a core priority. This, of course, is critical for addressing institutional goals related to student economic diversity. Furthermore, Global Affairs is prioritizing fundraising for student access to Education Abroad opportunities. These efforts need to be broadened to include endowments to support the hiring and retention of diverse faculty, campus diversity programming, and the Diversity Office along with its other strategic priorities.


As a community, we have had ongoing conversations about diversity and campus climate(s) and achieved much—this is evidenced in the multiple appendices to this report. UConn is now a more diverse community than in any other time in its history. There is extensive diversity programming throughout our University. And, there is an abundance of additional good ideas. At the same time, we have been unable to achieve consistently and with a common voice and vision. It is in that spirit that we propose fundamental changes in how diversity and equity are addressed at UConn, both in letter and spirit.

The Diversity Task Force acknowledges that, over the years, many initiatives have been launched to address matters that impact our campus demography, climate and multi-cultural living and learning environment. Some have been in response to specific incidents, while others have been more strategic in nature. Some of these programs have been sustained over the course of many years, yet others have failed to produce the longer-term results that their creation and implementation were intended to address. The overriding consensus is that there is a fundamental need for a university-wide sustainable diversity strategy that allows for much stronger coordination, collaboration and connection between the numerous offices and departments working on diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Within our collective experience there have also been overt incidents of bias and discrimination that have tainted some community members’ experiences and memories, prompted campus-wide activism for institutional change, and stimulated sometimes-difficult conversations about the status of our campus climate. These incidents have generated considerable reflection and motivated us toward progressive change.

The successful implementation of UConn Diversity will require clarity of vision and mission and firmly established goals. In order to realize these goals, strong leadership is needed not just in the form of a Chief Diversity Officer and new Diversity Office, but through all levels of the university including students, faculty and staff. This fundamental premise has led us to recommend the creation of a new structure—a UConn Diversity Council—that bridges ‘bottom up’ with ‘top down’ diversity and equity initiatives. Along with this new structure there will need to be department/unit diversity and equity plans along with institutional investment that is complemented by aggressive and targeted fundraising.

The Task Force firmly believes that accountability is of the utmost importance in ensuring success. All UConn leaders must be accountable for realizing the University’s commitment to diversity and equity. Considerable committee time was devoted to the concept that UConn Diversity cannot be achieved through the tracking of metrics and ‘checking-off’ of boxes. In order to be successful, a climate must be established in which efforts to promote diversity and equity are rewarded and there are punitive ramifications if the University’s vision is not supported.


[1] CDOs interviewed from Cornell, the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota, Rutgers, Texas A&M, UVA and VCU

[2] Some of this paragraph comes from previous UConn committees, task force efforts and reports. This report acknowledges and builds upon those prior, collaborative campus efforts to develop a consensus-based working definition of diversity and inclusion at UConn.

[3] ODE has created comprehensive analyses of faculty and staff diversity data by School/College. See: http://ode.uconn.edu/diversity/ for reports completed in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

[4] State of Connecticut Office of Education guidelines encourage fostering “culturally responsive” education and the CT Board of Governors for the CT State Universities and Communities underscores the need to foster “cultural proficiency.” Other professions may draw upon related concepts, such as “cultural competence” in social work and health professions. Each of these terms highlights the importance of fostering diversity and cultural understanding through formal and informal (or implicit) curricula.