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Step by step, moving forward -- Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion

Dear Faculty and Staff,

There are many elements in movement regarding diversity and inclusion efforts at Trinity.  Step by step, we are moving forward.  I encourage you to review the Diversity and Inclusion website, if you have not already done so.   While we are awaiting the recommendations of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force regarding potential next steps, I write to share information with you about a search that began in February 2020 and that is continuing:  Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion. I want to ensure there is clarity on this search, as it is an important step in moving us forward.

In Spring 2020, after conversations with students, with multiple stakeholders in Academic Affairs and Student Life, and with Alli Roman as the former Director of Diversity and Inclusion before her departure, the position was reconfigured for a clearer, more deliberate focus as it relates to students.  While we all desire to strengthen diversity work at Trinity across many different areas, everyone who was consulted prioritized students as the group with the greatest need, consistent with our Trinity emphasis on student centricity.

In the transition to remote learning and remote work, this search, along with others, was delayed.  However, upon receiving the recommendations from TDC, BSU, and other student groups, the search for this Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion was restarted. 

The faculty letter in support of the BSU, ASA, and TDC student group recommendations calls for "a new, autonomous, executive-level position for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - with a fully funded office and robust staff."  I want to confirm that this recommendation is under consideration as part of the deliberations of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.  The search for a Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion does not cancel or preclude the proposed executive-level position.  Rather, the Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion would become a part of the staff overseen by such an executive-level position and called for in the proposal.  

Until such a position can be established, if that is the recommendation of the task force, the Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion ensures that there is a dedicated staff member carrying out the work that has been underway with students since at least 2010. Students emphasized that not having a student-facing role such as this would be seen as an abandonment of their needs. Given the centrality of the work carried out by this individual, I will participate in supervising the position and I will include the individual in monthly central planning meetings.

I want to assure you that I am listening and, together as a community, we are committed to action. I look forward to receiving the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force recommendations in late August, and we will work to prioritize for implementation the projects they identify.  The recommendations brought forward by the task force will become part of the challenges faced in the upcoming months of reducing Trinity's operating budget by approximately 15% over the next three years. We will invest in some area of key importance while pulling back from others. The creation of new executive-level positions with staffing and budgets would take place in this context.  

In times of uncertainty, we must turn to our values, even ones that are aspirational. The COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant economic crisis has affected us deeply. By working together and supporting each other toward a shared goal of genuine inclusion and anti-racism at Trinity University, we have an opportunity to emerge stronger. In this context of remote work, continuing social distance, rising transmission of COVID-19, and planning uncertainties, I encourage you to remember our mission and the difference we can make in the lives of students who leave Trinity to lead lives of meaning and purpose. Step by step, we make progress.

Danny Anderson, President
Trinity University