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Strategic Initiatives for Racial Justice at Bentley

the University Cabinet

We, the Cabinet members of Bentley University, are committed to creating a campus community that promotes racial justice, equity and inclusion. With the Task Force on Racial Justice created and its work underway, today we are sharing a first set of strategic initiatives that will guide our next steps on racial justice at Bentley, designed to overturn policies, practices and structures that enable systemic racism on our campus. From developing new inclusive pedagogical strategies for the classroom to analyzing the diversity of our university suppliers and to creating implicit bias training for our police officers, these initiatives include proposals from every division of the university.

Academic Affairs

1) Promote Diversity-Based Learning and Development for Faculty

 In preparing to teach in the fall, all faculty have been asked to: 

  • Contribute to creating learning environments that welcome students of color by reflecting on your course and identifying at least one inclusive pedagogical strategy that you will engage with in the fall. 
  • Participate in a learning activity/course that provides each of us with a better understanding of effective teaching in a multicultural classroom.

Update: Academic Affairs launched a series of inclusive teaching and research resources, including a web page with more than 40 inclusive pedagogical strategies and an inclusive pedagogy workshop with over 120 faculty participants. The division is completing the draft of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Strategic Plan for Academic Affairs, which will be rolled out during the summer of 2021.

Responsible Cabinet Member: Donna Maria Blancero, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Human Resources

2) Support Professional Development focused on Racial Justice, Diversity and Inclusion

The Office of Human Resources will introduce and support enhanced learning and development offerings focused on racial justice, diversity and inclusion and will introduce an Inclusive Excellence goal requirement in the CAP system for all employees.   

Responsible Cabinet Member: George Cangiano, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Update: In fall 2020, Human Resources added the Inclusive Excellence goal as a requirement in the CAP performance management system for staff. 

3) Expand Training about Bias in Hiring

Human Resources will expand our current mandatory training, Implicit Bias in the Hiring Process, which is currently in place for all faculty searches, to include all administrative searches for positions with managerial oversight of staff and/or programmatic areas.

Responsible Cabinet Member: George Cangiano, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Update: Implicit Bias in the Hiring Process trainings are now required for all administrative searches for positions with managerial oversight of staff and/or programmatic areas. As of October 2020, the two-hour training had been held for four searches, including for members of the Presidential Search Committee.  

Enrollment Management

4) Develop Plans to Avoid Bias in Admissions

Enrollment Management will develop specific plans this summer and fall to continue progress in ensuring that there is no systemic bias in our admissions and scholarship processes. We will reduce the emphasis of standardized test results in these processes and expand the diversity of the application pool.

Update: For Fall 2021 undergraduate admission, Enrollment Management transformed the academic evaluation process to minimize the impact of test scores for both admission and scholarship consideration. Following the application deadline, the number of applications from students who identify as Black or Hispanic grew by 21% compared to last fall.

Responsible Cabinet Member: Carolina Figueroa, Vice President for Enrollment Management

University Advancement

5) Establish an Alumni of Color Advisory Group

Graduates will be recruited for the development of an alumni of color advisory group to be named in September. The purpose of the group will be to build on recent successful events for alumni of color by partnering with the Office of Alumni and Family Engagement to identify ways for alumni to re-engage and support the university.

Responsible Cabinet Member: Maureen Flores, Vice President for University Advancement

Update: University Advancement created and launched a new Alumni of Color Council in September 2020.

6) External Relations: Assess Support for Students of Color

The Pulsifer Career Development Center will assess the current utilization and quality of services provided to students of color to ensure that there are not inequities and that all students receive equitable career education and support.  

UpdateThe analysis conducted revealed that Black and Hispanic students find full-time employment primarily through personal networking, not through the career center. This was distinctly different from white students. In response, the Pulsifer Career Development Center (PCDC) partnered with the Multicultural Center and Claudette Blot to create a program titled "The Three C’s of Employment," which brought in companies to speak authentically about the culture and community of their organizations and describe the competencies students should have or would gain. Companies also shared information about their affinity groups, employee resource groups, and their commitment to the community and social needs. Students also heard from employees of color, including successes and challenges in their career paths. PCDC now strongly encourages all companies to share this information with all Bentley students.

Administration and Finance

7) Improve Diversity of University Suppliers

We will assess the diversity of our current supplier base and build a plan to meaningfully improve its diversity. We will include in this plan an effort to understand what our major suppliers are doing within their organizations to support the efforts of diversity and inclusion and what steps they take to ensure those working on our campus are appropriately trained to engage with us according to our values.

Update: Throughout fall 2020, the division successfully assessed the diversity of the university's supplier base, building a purposeful plan to continue to broaden diversity and inclusion procurement strategies and policies in the first quarter of calendar year 2021.

Responsible Cabinet Member: Maureen Forrester, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer

Marketing and Communications

8) Hold Listening Sessions with Students of Color

Marketing and Communications will conduct regular community listening sessions specifically with students of color and our many cultural organizations to share our communications strategy and gather feedback on our efforts. We aim to learn about student experiences as well as programs and events to ensure we reflect a more holistic picture of life at Bentley in all of our materials. 

Responsible Cabinet Member: Chris Joyce, Vice President for Marketing and Communications 

9) Improve Measurement of our Content to Better Reflect Racial Equity

We will enhance our ability to track representation in images and content across all marketing and communications materials and platforms and regularly audit the data to more accurately monitor racial equity in the ways in which we represent our community internally and externally.

Update: We conducted a first audit of marketing collaterals produced since July 1, 2020, including web pages, hero images, ads, on-campus signage and flyers to ensure our photography and videography demonstrate the racial diversity in our community. Through the audit, we recognized the need to try and avoid stereotypes and negative associations in our images and content – for example, we will try and avoid using stereotypical images of white students or alumni helping low-income children of color, and we will be conscious when using photos depicting white people as leaders and people of color in supporting roles. We also commit to hiring more photographers, videographers and writers of color among our freelance contributors, in addition to taking anti-bias training with HR to encourage diversity among full-time staff hires.

Responsible Cabinet Member: Chris Joyce, Vice President for Marketing and Communications 


10) Continue to Develop our Social Justice Internship 

In June, the Office of Sustainability created a new social justice intern position. This intern will be a part of the office’s Student Sustainability Leadership Program and will assist Office of Sustainability staff in investigating the office’s practices, programs and campus sustainability policies to identify actions needed to make Bentley’s sustainability programs actively anti-racist. 

Responsible Cabinet Member: Amanda King, Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Sustainability 

Update: The Office of Sustainability has added the social justice internship to its Student Sustainability Leadership program.

11) Develop a Strategic Plan for Sustainability that Includes a Focus on Anti-Racism

During the 2020-2021 academic year, the Office of Sustainability will lead a sustainability strategic planning effort to update the university’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. The process will focus on broad engagement of the campus community in ideation and goal setting for Bentley’s sustainable future. A sustainable future is not complete if it does not also create an equitable one, so a key criterion for this work will be that every goal, strategy or tactic identified in the process must be reviewed for its impact on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion with a focus on anti-racism. 

Update: The Office launched Bentley’s second Sustainability and Climate Action planning process on Jan. 27 with a Community Ideation Session. Students, faculty and staff attended the session to share their thoughts on the future of sustainability and climate action at Bentley. Key questions were: “What does your vision of sustainability and climate justice look like at Bentley in 2025?" and "What actions should we take to get there?” In the next stage of the process, committees will use justice, equity, diversity and inclusion as key criteria to screen the goals, strategies and tactics identified.

Responsible Cabinet Member: Amanda King, Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Sustainability

12) Create Programming focused on Environmental Racism 

The Office of Sustainability is updating all Student Sustainability Leadership training to include environmental justice and anti-racism education. Student sustainability leaders will work closely with Office of Sustainability staff to incorporate environmental justice programming and initiatives into the office’s campus education and engagement work. This fall, programming will be focused on environmental racism.

The Office of Sustainability held three educational events during the fall term focused on environmental racism: (1) an Instagram Live event where Bentley’s manager of sustainability interviewed the office’s social justice coordinator about issues of environmental racism; (2) a “Student Center Takeover” immersive learning experience where students, faculty and staff learned from art displays and signs about four different issues of environmental racism; and (3) a “Crash Course in Environmental Racism” taught by the office’s social justice coordinator.

Responsible Cabinet Member: Amanda King, Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Sustainability

General Counsel 

13) Enhance Procedures to Report Harassment, Discrimination and Misconduct

The Office of the General Counsel will review our current reporting procedures and establish a robust mechanism for students, faculty, staff and guests to submit reports, including those shared anonymously, of harassment, discrimination and misconduct. This review will seek to ensure that we have a safe space for raising difficult issues, provide for a prompt and thorough investigation, take appropriate action, convey the results to the reporting party and maintain accurate records to ensure that the issue does not recur.

Update: General Counsel is working with EthicsPoint to expand Bentley's anonymous reporting site to include discrimination and harassment as well as other violations of university policies. They are also revising the university's complaint site to make clear the variety of reporting options available to students, faculty and staff.

Responsible Cabinet Member: Judy Malone, Vice President/General Counsel and Secretary of the Corporation

Information Technology

14) Assess Service Delivery to Ensure Racial Equity

Information Technology will assess all service metrics and develop a plan to ensure racial equity across all user experiences, including professional development focused on cultural competency.  

Responsible Cabinet Member: Ian Thomas Wall, Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer

15) Identify Technology Solutions to Support Racial Justice

IT will partner with all divisions to identify technology solutions to support the equity-based assessment, monitoring and tracking of efforts to support racial justice.  

Responsible Cabinet Member: Ian Thomas Wall, Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Student Affairs

16) Launch a Racial Justice Plan

Every department in the division will contribute to a comprehensive Division of Student Affairs Racial Justice Action Plan that will be shared with the community before the beginning of the fall trimester. Plans will include racial justice training and education for staff and students, performance goals for every staff member, opportunities for student involvement in decision-making processes and the identification of metrics to assess progress.  

Update: In August, the division shared Racial Justice Action Plans in a message to the community and followed up by hosting a community conversation for students to ask questions and provide additional feedback. The Racial Justice Action Plans are on a SharePoint site accessible to all students, staff and faculty. 

Responsible Cabinet Member: Andrew Shepardson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

17) Strengthen Mandatory Training for University Police

All officers will attend eight hours of training focused on de-escalation and the impact of implicit bias in policing before the fall. In addition, University Police will conduct a thorough review of all policies and practices to identify opportunities to reinforce a commitment to racial justice including banning chokeholds. Community policing efforts will be increased and tracked. 

Responsible Cabinet Member: Andrew Shepardson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Update: All sworn Bentley University Police officers completed eight hours of de-escalation and implicit bias training in August 2020.   

Office of the President

18) Create and Hire a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

The position of chief diversity and inclusion officer will be created and serve as a member of the President's Cabinet, effective immediately. The chief diversity and inclusion officer will provide vision, leadership and coordination for strategic institutional planning to ensure inclusive environments and equitable outcomes for all members of the community. 

Responsible Cabinet Member: Paul Condrin, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Acting President

Update: In August 2020, Board Chair and Acting President Condrin named Katie Lampley '96 as the university's first diversity and inclusion officer and a member of the President's Cabinet.