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Important Update: Beyond Racial Equity Strategic Review Report and Recommendations

Dear members of the Emerson community, 

During recent months, staff and senior leaders have made significant progress to infuse our values of equity, access, and social justice (EASJ) across the College. 

Notably, Emerson completed the Beyond Racial Equity (BRE) Strategic Review with the delivery of a comprehensive report and recommendations by BRE consultants Tara Jenkins and Quionna Allen. We want to thank them for their insightful review that we are sharing with you here. Their summary overview as well as the full report can be found at www.emerson.edu/bre.

If you have any questions or feedback about the BRE report that you wish to share, please email communityequity@emerson.edu

Below are seven key priority areas the College is committed to addressing over the next two to three years based on BRE’s findings.

These key priorities serve as a critical foundation to the full scope of recommendations BRE has submitted. These focus areas were reinforced by a series of conversations and feedback from the BRE Project Team, the Making Emerson IDEAS Team, and some students from the Presidential Advisory Group for Community & Equity (PAG) who were available to give their input. 

Values & Culture 

  • To better understand the values Emerson holds, will commit to, and champion, the College will schedule and engage in multi-campus community-wide discussions, intakes, and assessments to articulate and update our collective values and aspirational culture aligned with the work of the Future of Emerson Initiative. We want to identify the gaps that exist between our present and our aspirational state, and outline definitive actions to affect culture-change. 

Communication & Collaboration

  • To strengthen our collaborative decision-making in ways that nurture trust and community-building, the College will reimagine the Presidential Advisory Group for Community & Equity (PAG) and other methods of sharing information. We want to invite larger community participation in discussions that affect the direction of the College, with the goal of producing communication pathways that serve all members of our community.

Leadership 

  • To strengthen institutional leadership’s ability to model the values of equity, access, and social justice that are prized in our community, the College will create a standing Equity, Access, and Social Justice Committee in the Board of Trustees; and engage the Board of Trustees, President’s Council, Dean’s Council, Academic Cabinet, and managers in training and reflection on human-centered leadership, intersectionality, and multiple forms of institutional bias. We want to encourage greater understanding of how we can be proactive in creating an inclusive climate. 

Accessibility 

  • To prioritize improving access in our community, benefit mental health, and honor the tenets of disability justice, the College will invest in additional staff positions in Student Affairs and the Social Justice Center and develop resource materials to deepen universal design across our campuses, and increase identity-based support, including review and update where necessary Emerson’s existing accommodation policies and processes for faculty, staff, and students. We want to identify ways to remove barriers, increase transparency, and improve individual and collective experiences.

Retention 

  • To better retain and support students, staff, and faculty historically and traditionally excluded from higher education, and invest in their growth to ensure their success, the College will form a Retention Working Group focused on BIPOC students, international students, students with disabilities, and all students with marginalized identities; invest in revitalizing and increasing support for the College Employee Resource Networks (ERNs) eQual, Fusion, and EmCares. We want people to flourish here. 

Accountability 

  • The College will invest in personnel and resources to help measure, track, and be informed by data in ways that hold us accountable to our values and aspirations, including examining experiential, qualitative, and quantitative disaggregated data. The College will also craft an intentional trauma-informed approach for response to incidents of bias, identity-based harm, and other events that target human dignity both internal and external to Emerson. We want to honor the human dignity of each of us and increase content and media in the curriculum that center and celebrate the joy, accomplishments, and resistance of people who have been marginalized, not just reference areas of struggle.

Community 

  • To honor our alumni and support them in staying close to each other and the College for life, the College will review existing resources for alumni, and seek ways to increase support for volunteer centered and volunteer-led affinity groups and affinity-related events. The College will also consider, together with volunteers, how it can create more opportunity for community members to engage across class years, generations, and areas of interest across our multiple campuses. We want to strengthen our ties as a community and our collective support of that community.

Updates on progress within these key priorities will be transparent and posted regularly on the College’s Community Equity Action Plan website, and full community updates will be shared once a semester. Key leadership roles related to these initiatives will also be shared once identified.

Progress on the key priority areas will be a collective responsibility, and will be orchestrated and monitored by the Vice President for Equity & Social Justice, Shaya Gregory Poku, in consultation with the President’s Council, and with oversight by Interim President Bill Gilligan.

Positive institutional change takes all of us. This will be a community-wide effort where your ideas and assistance will be critical to our success. If you would like to read more recent updates about progress made over the summer, please visit Emerson Today

A special thank you to all those who served on the Sponsor and Project Teams: Sponsor Team: Bill GIlligan, Paul Dworkis, Ruthanne Madsen, Tony Pinder, and Anne Shaughnessy, and Project Team: Ruthanne Madsen, Alayne Fiore, Tony Pinder, Samantha Ivery, and Jae Williams.

Thank you all for being part of the Emerson community. 

Sincerely,
William P. Gilligan, Interim President
Shaya Gregory Poku, Vice President for Equity & Social Justice

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