The DEI initiative at LSBE started with an original action plan (see below) in the fall of 2021. Since its creation, LSBE has made significant strides towards implementing tactics that are listed in our progress report. We do not consider DEI as something to be accomplished with an end goal in sight, but rather as an ongoing embodiment to be ingrained into our everyday thoughts, words, and actions.
Celebrating Diversity in a Colorful Way
LSBE has a very diverse faculty. A total of 19 countries-of-birth are represented among its 46 faculty. In order to showcase the diversity that already exists in LSBE, a unique approach was taken at the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester. LSBE’s Interim Associate Dean procured flags for each of the countries represented by our faculty, staff, and students. Almost 40 flags adorned the school lobby as the school welcomed its learners back to campus.
Dean’s DEI Advisory Council
During the summer of 2021, alumni and community supporters were identified who are truly passionate about DEI and were willing to assist the school in its DEI journey. Five individuals joined the inaugural DEI Advisory Council and have been instrumental in helping shape the DEI initiatives for LSBE. They helped refine the working definitions of key terms that were then forwarded to LSBE’s Unit Change Team which, after making some changes, adopted those definitions for the school. The Council has also assisted in defining key strategic initiatives for the school to follow. A substantial outcome of the Council work has been a six-digit gift from a couple of the members to help LSBE implement some of the proposed action items.
DEI Curricular Challenge Cup
LSBE faculty were invited to submit proposals for infusing appropriate DEI content/approaches into their courses. A total of 12 proposals were funded through the first round of this initiative (the funding for this initiative came from the donation listed above, under Dean’s DEI Advisory Council).
In the spring of 2022, four faculty members (Steve Castleberry, Ruby Nancy, Junhua Wang, Lin Xiu) participated in the first Challenge Cup where they described their DEI curricular innovations. The event was open to all faculty and staff, and the audience selected a winner who will receive an additional cash reward and a recognition plaque. Ruby Nancy was voted the 2022 DEI Challenge Cup Champion.
Supporting Students’ Academic Decision-Making
Picking a major can be a daunting task. It is particularly challenging for first-generation students who may not have the same level of family support as do other students. In order to serve this student segment, all the departments in LSBE collaborated with the Dean’s Office and the LSBE Advising Office to develop a comprehensive guide to assist students with their selection of majors. The guide provides relevant information about each LSBE major and discusses strategies for picking a major. The school also started organizing a Majors Overview workshop to provide a more interactive engagement for students and to answer any questions they may have.
Hearing from the Experts
LSBE’s Outreach Committee organized an in-person Distinguished Speaker event on October 6, 2021, at the UMD Weber Hall featuring Karen Diver, Senior Advisor to the President for Native American Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The title of her talk was Tribal Communities: A Nexus of Social, Economic and Racial Justice.
Improving Accessibility to the Dean
The LSBE interim Dean has a Student Advisory Council that routinely interacts with the dean. This group provides the dean with honest and timely input and feedback on a variety of school issues. To broaden communications between LSBE students and the administration, LSBE has initiated a Coffee with the Dean event where the dean makes himself available to any student who wants to talk to him. Students are, of course, treated to coffee and treats as they enjoy a conversation with the dean. The dean has also initiated bi-weekly Office Hours that are open to all LSBE faculty and staff.
Students as Change Makers
In order to promote DEI advocacy among students, LSBE has started a new award titled the LSBE Student Award for DEI Advocacy. The award is designated to recognize LSBE student advocacy and efforts outside the classroom to enact change in support of DEI within LSBE, UMD, or the Twin Ports Community. The award focuses on efforts that generally benefit those who are historically underrepresented, and those with diverse or marginalized backgrounds, including the promotion of social awareness and the spirit of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Faculty Sharing Best Practices
As a precursor to the DEI Challenge Cup (noted above), LSBE’s Unit Change Team organized two events titled Sharing Your DEI Teaching/Service Practices where faculty and staff were invited to share and present their DEI-related teaching/service practices.
Increasing Awareness Through Dialogue
LSBE’s Unit Change Team has hosted many events to increase awareness and understanding throughout the school: Diversity Dialogues, panel discussion event with people of diverse backgrounds who discussed openly with the LSBE students in attendance the personal experiences they have had with discrimination in our community; a diversity potluck, where faculty and staff from 19 countries around the world shared their favorite cultural/ethnic food items; and a Women’s Success in the Business World panel discussion, where local women executives discussed challenges and obstacles women face in the business world.
A Primer on Pronouns
A growing awareness among students, faculty, and staff about the changing use of pronouns led to a deeper inquiry about our community’s understanding of the proper use of pronouns. We discovered that many of us were unsure of correct usage and wanted to learn more about it. LSBE’s interim Associate Dean put together a resource kit on the topic for distribution to all faculty and staff. LSBE’s Unit Change Team is planning to organize a brown-bag lunch conversation on the topic later this semester.
Faculty Service Promoting DEI
LSBE faculty member Dr. Steve Castleberry was invited to organize a seminar at the 2021 Annual Convention of the Minnesota Association of Counselors of Color (MnACC) on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The seminar trained the attendees to move away from a funnel approach (talk to 1000 students -> 100 will follow-up with the counselor ->10 will apply) and instead focus on using a more tailored, consultative and persuasive communication approach for each potential student when discussing the importance of attending college.
Random Acts of Kindness
LSBE has started a new award titled LSBE Random Act of Kindness Award. The award recognizes LSBE students who went out of their way to make a genuinely kind gesture, carry out an act of kindness, or serve as a good Samaritan for someone in the campus community.
LSBE faculty continue to do significant research on issues related to DEI (including topics related to gender differences, income inequity, cultural differences, impact of immigration, serving underrepresented or vulnerable populations, fairness in employment, etc.). Just within the last five years, LSBE faculty have published close to twenty peer-reviewed journal articles on these topics.
Strategy and Communications
LSBE is currently working on drafting its next 5-year Strategic Plan. The plan will be finalized by the end of the Spring semester 2022. A major theme that has received widespread support in the plan is the need for the school to sustain and build upon the momentum for DEI initiatives. In addition to making DEI a strategic priority, LSBE is also working on a communication plan to share the progress being made on this front. A DEI brochure and this website were developed to highlight the need and celebrate the progress that has been made.
LSBE DEI Curricular Initiative
Invite proposals from faculty for infusing appropriate DEI content/approaches into courses and fund promising proposals across all majors. At the end of the semester, organize a DEI Curricular Challenge Cup. Invite three finalists to make presentations on how they incorporated DEI content into their courses to disseminate new ideas and approaches.
Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Courses
Support one COIL course a year where an LSBE faculty collaborates with a faculty from a foreign school, and they together co-teach a course that’s jointly taken by students from LSBE and the foreign school. LSBE faculty and students grow from their experiences co-learning with their international peers.
Offer LSBE Students a Course on Diversity Exposure
Recruit expert adjunct faculty to deliver a 3-cr course that matches students from diverse backgrounds and engages them in intentionally curated activities that increase students’ exposure to “dissimilar others.” Course activities include a number of social engagements (such as dining, bowling, nature excursions, etc.).
DEI Student Support Advisor
Hire a DEI advisor who will actively recruit a more diverse student body and direct LSBE resources to support them once they are here. Among other things, this advisor could host a student support group, lead events and activities that promote understanding and a sense of belonging, and advocate for diverse students.
Faculty and Staff Training on DEI
Contract with Strategic Diversity Initiatives (SDI) to offer workshops on DEI to LSBE faculty and staff. SDI has an established track record of conducting highly nuanced DEI training for university faculty.
DEI Student Ally Awards
Recognize students’ efforts in creating a more welcoming environment within LSBE. Award half-tuition scholarships to five students who demonstrate the most meaningful, substantive, sustainable, and impactful work in creating a more inclusive learning environment within LSBE.