More Important Developments in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Dear University Community, 

Earlier this year, we updated the community on the significant efforts to support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout our campus, classrooms, and beyond.  In recent months, there has been exciting momentum, and I congratulate each of you on your continued commitment to inclusive excellence and your hard work to make it a priority.

As we begin a new academic year, I am pleased to provide an update on our latest initiatives as well as share with you the 2022-2023 Annual Report on Diversity Initiatives.

Leadership Initiatives

Creating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Focus Across the University.

To move progress faster, we are refocusing positions and the planned work in each functional area of the University.

  • Board of Trustees: The Board continues its work on DEI through continued education and consultation with thought leaders.  In the spring, the Board had Dr. Damon Williams present to the full Board on best practices for DEI and Anti-Racism and have invited Dr. Williams back for their October Board meeting.  We are also working to recruit a more diverse group of Trustees, and the Board has begun to actively track Board demographics and expertise to inform our recruiting process.  This year, I am pleased to announce the addition of Lisa Cano Burkhead ’93 and oN Lu ’93 as new members of our Board. 
  • Employment Processes and Campus Culture:  Laura Zamora’s title has been updated to Associate Vice President of Talent, Diversity, and Culture.  Under Laura’s leadership, the University will further expand diversity practices that support hiring and retention practices for underrepresented groups.  Laura will also focus on professional development for supervisors to improve the climate for all employees on campus.
  • Student Programming and Support: Monique Stennis has been promoted to Senior Director of Student Diversity Initiatives and now reports to Vice President for Student Affairs, Donna Eddleman.  The Senior Director manages the retitled Office for Inclusion and Community (OIC).  Monique is responsible for developing, coordinating, planning, and delivering programs, training, and services that address the needs of students from diverse backgrounds and ensuring effective processes and procedures that facilitate dialogue and strengthen a welcoming campus climate of respect, innovation, and commitment to social justice for students.
    • We are delighted to welcome Elaine Talamaivao to her new role as Interim Department Coordinator for the OIC.  In addition to supporting daily operations, Elaine will also design and facilitate first-generation student programs, as well as assist in the planning of signature events in collaboration with student-led organizations.  Jennifer Guzman will also provide part-time administrative support as the Interim Office Assistant.
  • Alumni Connections and Mentoring: Under the leadership of Vice President of Advancement Jed Schwendiman, the University’s Office of Alumni Affairs will prioritize fostering partnerships and mentorships between alumni and students from underrepresented groups.
  • Academic Affairs: I would like to thank the Personnel Policies Committee of the Faculty Senate for their work to revise the Faculty Handbook and include diversity, equity, and inclusion as criteria for consideration in the tenure and post-tenure review processes. 
    • Provost Adrienne McCormick and Associate Provost Anne Cavender will work with Faculty Senate Chair Graeme Auton to ensure the recommended DEI updates are fully approved and integrated into the Faculty Handbook.
    • Provost McCormick will work with Associate Provost Anne Cavender and a dedicated team of faculty and staff to launch the new Center for Immersive and Engaged Learning Opportunities (CIELO), which will support faculty in their teaching and curricular and co-curricular programming for students, including training resources on inclusive pedagogy, active learning, and the changing impacts of augmented and virtual reality, as well as AI, on student learning.
    • Academic leaders, as well as Heather Lambeth in her new role as Director of Assessment and Accreditation, will work with faculty on the CAS General Education committee to assess how well we are meeting our stated general education learning outcomes related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Promotions: We have also made key hires and promotions to further steward the University’s DEI-focused efforts. 

  • Dr. Justin Rose is our new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Rose brings with him a strong record of bringing stakeholders together to reimagine, enhance, and champion the liberal arts.  He also has experience in designing customized retention strategies for faculty.  As a former Dean of Rhodes College, he worked with the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives on the Rhodes framework for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Strategies (IDEAS).
  • Rev. Dr. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina will serve as the new Dean of the San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS).  Rev. Dr. Garrett-Cobbina has been part of SFTS since 2006, holding various roles such as the Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education, Director of the Clinical Pastoral Education Program, and Shaw Chaplaincy Institute for Spiritual Care Compassionate Leadership.  She brings to the position a continued commitment to educating and serving SFTS’s diverse students and communities - including those whom society marginalizes, internal and external to the faith communities to which they belong. 
  • Dr. Nicol Howard assumed the Dean of the School of Education (SOE) role in July 2023.  Dr. Howard has served on the University faculty since 2016, most recently as Interim Dean of the SOE.  As Interim Dean, Dr. Howard led collaborative efforts to enhance academic programs, reduce expenses, maximize resources, and integrate new technologies in the SOE.  She is also co-director of the University’s Race in Education Analytics Learning Lab (REAL Lab).

The Anti-Racism Committee (ARC)

The ARC continues toward the development of an action plan.  In addition to reporting to the Board of Trustees at each of its meetings, the ARC continues to make significant progress toward fulfilling our goal of being an anti-racist campus.  Currently, the ARC is expanding its membership to add different perspectives to its review and development of the three main areas of the ARC’s subcommittees announced in its recent update. 

Fundraising and Grants

As we persist in celebrating the University’s Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) status, we also celebrate our first Title V grant of $2.9 million.  Titled Proyecto Dirección, the grant will fund enhancements for current programs – including Summer Bridge, First-Year Journey, Students Together Empowering Peers (STEP), First-Year Seminar, and Transfer Student Success – in ways that ensure we are not only a Hispanic-enrolling, but truly a Hispanic-Serving Institution, dedicated to equitably meeting the learning needs of all of our student populations.  We are currently accepting applications for the Title V Project Director, who will oversee this incredible work.  We will also recruit an HSI analyst tasked with tracking student learning outcomes and curating data that will help us improve our student success efforts.  The grant will also allow us to recruit an additional staff position in the Office for Inclusion and Community, to advance Hispanic-servingness and support Proyecto Dirección initiatives across the University.

A University-wide committee to drive and coordinate DEI efforts.

With the advice and counsel of Dr. Damon Williams, and under the purview of Senior Diversity & Inclusion Officer Christopher Jones, we are considering the development of a new committee that will coordinate and drive our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts across the University as we work to become a leader in inclusive excellence.

This group will include representatives from the following groups to aid in this coordination effort:

  • Anti-Racism Committee
  • LGBTQIA2S+/Pride
  • Accessibility and Accommodations Committee (a new committee formed to improve accessibility and our campus accommodations processes)
  • Office for Inclusion and Community
  • Alumni Director
  • HSI Committee
  • Other diversity-focused groups who wish to be included

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on this proposal.

As emphasized in our strategic plan, prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential in addressing students’ needs and facilitating their achievements.  Recognizing we each play a role in ensuring success, I will make it a personal priority to meet with all University-affiliated student groups each semester.

I hope this update informs and inspires us all to continue this great work.  As we celebrate our achievements, we must remain focused on continued progress.


Krista L. Newkirk