In 2017, we engaged a consulting firm DEI to conduct a cultural assessment survey to understand our organization’s climate for diversity, equity and inclusion. We had already heard from students that they wanted a more inclusive atmosphere in the classroom, and we wanted to do more to build inclusiveness within the school.
Get 4 weeks of Crain’s for $1
Since that first cultural assessment, here is how the School of Law has worked to better support students and make our institution more inclusive:
- Exploring implicit biases in hiring professors through a mandatory workshop for professors.
- Expanded orientation program for all incoming students to include bias and cultural competency.
- We provided all faculty and freshmen with The Color of the Law, a book about the history of legalized racial segregation in housing in the United States, and held community discussions about the books.
- Created the Professional Identity Training course, mandatory for all first-year students who come into contact with faculty and each other on professionalism, implicit bias, racism, and cultural competence.
- Significant increase in the number of diverse instructors to teach the Professional Identity Training class and upper class electives.
- Increased number of diverse high-level directors.
- Creation of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity and the role of Vice Dean of the office.
- Added new courses to the graduate level curriculum to address systemic racism and oppression in the legal profession.
- Created a new mission statement based on feedback from students, alumni, faculty, administrators, and staff.
- Engaged in a university-led racial justice review to assess, reflect on, and develop an action plan to actualize our mission to become an anti-racism law school.
- Tasked each faculty governance committee with creating achievable goals to implement our mission goals.
- Worked with the Student Bar Association to elect student representatives to serve on faculty governance committees.
- Dedicated each faculty meeting to workshops on diversity, equity, and inclusion led by DEI experts.
- Creation and appointment of the position of Associate Dean for Mission Innovation, which partners with faculty to bring anti-racism principles into the classroom.
- Home of the largest and most diverse class of first-year law students in the school, meeting the admissions goal of 30% diversity.
- Launch of the Diversity and Inclusion as a Social and Professional Responsibility course for second and third year students.
- Significant increase in financial aid and scholarship support.
- Creation of a task force to administer the Innovative Ideas Fund to support student-centered programming to further our anti-racism mission.
- Increase in the number of tenured professors who focus on dismantling systemic injustice.
- Named the first African-American woman dean in the history of the law school, Michèle Alexandre.
Plan for the future
All members of our community – trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni – contribute to creating and maintaining inclusivity within our institution.
None of this happens overnight, and we’re in it for the long haul.
We have made great progress, but there is still much to do. We pledge to continue to challenge the status quo and do the hard work to achieve our anti-racism mission.
Quality journalism is not free. Please consider subscribing to Crain’s.