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   from the issue of October 12, 2006

Diversity plan ready for review


Three goals. Individual accountability.

After months of poring through diversity plans from universities and colleges, a UNL committee has created a malleable document with three goals and an outline for individual accountability.

"We started looking at what other universities were doing and we found a whole spectrum of diversity plans," said Linda Crump, assistant to the chancellor for Equity, Access and Diversity and chair of the diversity plan committee.

However, the review changed after Evelyn Jacobson, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and member of the diversity plan committee, returned from a national meeting, where she learned that nearly all diversity plans - whether book length or a few paragraphs - contain a handful of basic elements.

From Jacobson's reports, the committee - which includes Crump, Jacobson, Bruce Currin, Gina Matkin, Jamar Banks and Marilyn Schnepf - formulated the three goals into the Strategic Plan for Diversity at UNL. The draft plan is for five years, with a progress review set for 2011. The goals of the draft plan are:

• Create a campus climate where respect and inclusiveness are modeled and expected, so everyone enjoys equitable opportunities for professional and personal fulfillment;

• Support programs and curriculum that explores the experiences, perspectives and contributions of various cultures, groups and individuals; and

• Create a truly diverse community of faculty, students, administrators and staff that reflects both our multi-cultural society and individual differences and achieve among faculty, students, administrators and staff representative numbers of groups historically denied access because of race or gender.

Crump said the plan allows for individualization among UNL's various units.

Jan Deeds, assistant director of Student Involvement and committee member for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender concerns, welcomed the moldable plan.

"In many ways, having a strategic plan that is simple and allows for action steps to be developed by the implementers is most effective," Deeds said. "Too much detail in this type of plan makes it difficult to make any forward motion. And, sometimes details can limit your vision."

UNL has operated with a draft Comprehensive Diversity Plan since 1999. While never officially approved, the comprehensive plan (formed by a committee on which Crump and Currin also served) called for periodic reviews. Harvey Perlman, chancellor, called for a review and formed the second committee earlier this year.

"A lot of things were realized in that earlier plan," Crump said. "But, the one problem the committee saw was that the plan was not specific about who was responsible for doing this or that."

Crump said that while the goals are outlined simply, the 2006 draft includes a level of accountability not included in the 1999 draft. The accountability is outlined in the first goal and spans all members of the campus community - from faculty and staff to administrators and those in formal leadership positions. It concludes by stating that all university employees will: actively participate in campus programs to improve climate and leadership; treat colleagues, stakeholders, campus visitors and the public with a standard of behavior that demonstrates respect, civility and inclusiveness; and conduct annual evaluations that include an assessment of these expectations.

The plan also allows for self-reporting from colleges, departments and units.

Crump said the self-reporting would be completed through programs already in place - such as annual evaluations and climate assessments.

The diversity draft plan is posted online for review and feedback through Oct. 31. The plan and a feedback forum can be accessed on the chancellor's Web page,

Crump said the committee will review and, potentially, incorporate the feedback received and present the final plan to Perlman for review. Ideally, Crump said an approved diversity plan would in place at UNL by fall 2007.



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