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ESF Answers Governor's Call to Action

College reports on diversity initiatives on campus
8/21/2018

ESF has initiated numerous programs to increase diversity and inclusion on campus. Recently, the College's diversity initiatives were outlined in a report to Governor Andrew Cuomo's office. Following recent developments in Washington, the governor has directed SUNY to maintain diversity and inclusion plans and policies that advance New York's commitment ot diversity, equity and opportunity.

What practices have you implemented at your institution that have increased diversity within campus leadership?

Representational equity (the proportional participation at all levels of an institution): A question about personal contribution to an atmosphere that values diversity is posed to each prospective employee during the interview process; The August 2017 hire of the Inaugural CDO (whose main three foci are pipeline; professional development & training; and climate) and July 2018 hire of the Title IX & Affirmative Action Coordinator. CDO and Human Resources has revisited employment-related screening and training material. Outward-facing documentation of such changes forthcoming.

Diversifying the Hill Initiative: Under the leadership of the CDO, SUNY ESF became a founding member of the Diversifying the Hill Initiative. Members of the Diversifying the Hill Initiative are providing leadership strategies focused on expanding the economy of the City of Syracuse, expanding high-skill employment opportunities, creating new wealth and generating a better standard of living for all those who live, work, and play in the city, at the member institutions, and partnering businesses. Diversifying the Hill maximizes the use of scarce resources to diversity the candidate pools of member agencies/institutions. The initiative also supports information exchange and access to qualified pools of talent.

Bias Reporting Form/Infrastructure: Increasing diversity relates directly to maintaining diversity. As evidenced in the ESF non-discrimination statement, ESF considers acts of hate and bias unacceptable and antithetical to its commitment to an inclusive and respectful community. The CDO worked with a team of professionals from areas such as Title IX, and the Student Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Office, and Student Affairs to create and assemble annual marketing for a Bias Reporting System that would be able to track and review bias-related incidents. The team also worked to create wording that would inform the campus community that reporting the incident may lead to an investigation.

Resource Equity (the distribution of educational resources in order to close equity gaps). Individuals instrumental in institution's policy-making forming board(s)/committee(s) recognize diversity, inclusion and equity as essential educational strategy and formal policies have been developed or implemented - even though the official body of people have not been named.

Policy Infrastructure: In order to address employee autonomy and improve climate, the CDO recognized a need to improve the policy process that would: improve the current policy infrastructure, making it well-defined, understandable, transparent, and easy to navigate; allow for community input and feedback as broadly sought, valued, and appropriately used; exhibit a uniform template and process to create and revise policies; and negotiate a way to share the new policy template and revision/creation process with the campus community.

The structure created by the CDO includes the following:

- Policy on Policies (Proposed template)

- Policy Template -

- Style Guidelines for ESF Policies

- Policy Revision form -

- Policy Impact Statement

- Stakeholder Letter Template

The materials are currently under review by the Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer and other members of the President's Executive Cabinet.

Equity-mindedness (the demonstration of an awareness of and willingness to address equity issues among institutional leaders and staff). There is a senior administrator (CDO) whose primary responsibility is advancing diversity, inclusion and equity across the institution. This individual has senior-level decision-making authority equal to other administrative peers within the leadership team; the individual is integral to all campus renewal and transformation efforts.

Welcome Letter to new employees: As Human Resources poises to move to online submission of new employee paperwork and document acknowledgement of select college policies via the online medium, the CDO proposed a welcome statement inclusive of a diversity message to new (and prospective) employees. Fri 10/27/2017 10:28 AM the proposed messaging for new employees was shared with Human Resources. Wording approval and placement TBA. This pertains only to the new hire paperwork and does not replace the in-person orientations conducted by Human Resources personnel.

Encouragement to apply to prospective employees: Communicating ESF's message of inclusion, diversity, and equity as an ongoing commitment. To achieve the desired response from prospective employees, the work of the CDO must be strategic and proactive in thinking about where to insert this message, the means consideration of message delivery and of the audiences to whom it is addressed. This is especially true for reaching a diverse applicant pool for open ESF professional roles. The CDO designed language and suggested to colleagues in Human Resources prospective audiences.

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): Under the direction of former SUNY ESF President, Q. Wheeler, the CDO coordinated an agreement between NAMI Syracuse and Dr. Wheeler who signed on to be a CEO Against Stigma. The goal of this campaign is to create a stigma-free, more productive work/learning environment by encouraging the communication and understanding of issues of mental illness among students and employees

  • Briefly summarize the principal goals in your Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Plan, and indicate the progress made in achieving "buy in" at the various campus leadership levels (i.e., chairs, deans, provost and president). Please describe any impediment (s) to achieving the goal and any assistance/resources that would accelerate progress toward achieving the goal.

There are specific goals and strategies listed in the IDE plan: In brief, our goals were developed to: 1. Define and integrate inclusion, diversity, and equity at ESF 2. Create accountability and visibility of diversity, equity, and inclusion at ESF 3. Integrate inclusion, diversity, and equity into the teaching and research done by faculty, staff and students alike 4. Develop inclusive recruitment and retention strategies for ESF students, faculty, staff and administrators. 5. Increase the physical and technological accessibility of ESF to people inside and outside of the college 6. Increase inclusion, diversity, and equity at ESF with the support and involvement of ESF alumni 7. Increase the inclusion, diversity, and equity of international students at ESF.

The goals and strategies that are delineated in the plan were presented by the CDO to the President's Executive Cabinet to vet and communicated among their direct reports throughout the institution to ensure responsible operationalization of the plan. Several offices and roles are specifically implicated throughout the plan. The President's Executive Cabinet approved the final version with the understanding of the work implicated throughout for themselves and their direct reports. PIF Funding has provided a mechanism to address climate and accessibility. Devoid of a climate survey, metrics are difficult to mold. Fall 2018, SUNY ESF, by way of partnership with the University of Southern California Race and Equity Institute, will implement educational modules, simultaneous to a climate survey that will assist the Chief Diversity Officer and the Campus-Wide Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity to set realistic metrics inside of the current strategic plan.

  • Impediments are as follows: Policies and procedures are designed to hire and train a diverse workforce but have proven only partially successful. Some professional development designed to prepare faculty and staff to meet the needs of a diverse campus is available, but some of it is either inadequate or ineffective. Specialized goal-oriented initiatives (ad hoc task forces, presidential commissions, task-based committees of limited duration, among others) do not take into account institutional diversity, inclusion and equity efforts. The college seldom or never engages with alumni who represent diverse populations within the larger community.
  • Assistance/resources that would accelerate progress: Added years of use of the SUNY faculty diversity program. Documented letter of support from SUNY Central leadership of the newly-formed NEW Faculty Orientation spearheaded by the SUNY ESF Provost and CDO, Fall 2018.

Faculty and Staff

  • What has been your most effective strategy/model in creating and retaining faculty/staff diversity on your campus? Please support with available data.

One of the essential factors for institutionalizing diversity in higher education is the degree to which staff members are involved in implementation and advancement of diversity, inclusion, and equity issues on campus.Although staff members are encouraged and are to pursue diversity activities, their work in diversity, inclusion and equity is not always recognized during performance review and promotion. NOTE: Diversity as a component of work life is addressed with prospective employees. The CDO holds informal gatherings with professionals with underrepresented identity.

  • Are faculty provided opportunities to develop courses or course content on diversity, difference and power?

The NEW Faculty Orientation of Fall 2018 which is co-sponsored by SUNY PIF Funding and the SUNY ESF Provost and CDO will encourage faculty to conduct research which in form, content, or both; will reflect a commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity as an integral asset to disciplinary and institutional integrity; and integrate a variety of inclusive teaching and learning approaches that is designed to respond to the diverse experiences of students in their classes.

Several departments offer opportunities to engage in diversity, inclusion and equity related activities (e.g., research, study abroad) and courses, but these opportunities and courses typically are not a part of the formal academic program (rather internships) of the department and/or are not primarily supported by departmental funds. The recent work of the SUNY ESF Provost and others will settle academic programs that will allow professors and student scholars to benefit from exchange programs with various nations.

Student Recruitment/Enrollment/Retention

  • What has been your most successful initiative in the recruitment and enrollment of underrepresented students? Please provide the metrics that illustrate your success.

ESF in the High School: The ESF in the High School dual enrollment program continues to serve over 650 high school students across the state. Students in this program take ESF courses at their home school taught by their own teachers who are appointed adjuncts at ESF. Students are able to obtain college credit at a much reduced fee and challenge themselves academically in preparation for college. This past year 58% of the students identified as female. The total ethnic breakdown of participants included 11 % Asian, 22% Black, 12% Hispanic, 2 % Native American and 53% White. Participating schools were mainly public and primarily city, suburban or rural.

Scholarship and Grant Support: SUNY ESF participates in the "Empire State Diversity Honors Scholarship Program". This program provides financial support to students meeting specified "diversity indicators" who have demonstrated high academic achievement. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the program provided $24,435 in funding to 30 students. In addition, the program requires a campus funding match. This match is met and significantly exceeded through the SUNY ESF Diversity Grant Program. For the 2017-2018 academic year, this program awarded an additional $114,295 to 75 total students. This diversity funding is generally awarded in addition to all other forms of federal, state, and institutional aid sources. [MH 7-25-18]

SEO (Recruitment). The inaugural "SEO Scholars 'Branching Out' Program" in 2015 brought roughly 15 students from NYC to campus for a week-long residential summer program. Entering its third year in 2017, the SEO Scholars / ESF SCIENCE "Branching Out" summer program brought 20 rising high school juniors from New York City Public schools to SUNY-ESF in Syracuse for an immersive pre-college experience. For 14 years, the ESF Science Corps and SCIENCE (Summer Camps Investigating Ecology in Neighborhood and City Environments) program has introduced underrepresented minorities from around Syracuse & New York State to opportunities in STEM through an urban ecology and environmental science lens.

Participating students represent all 5 major boroughs and many walks off life. The first year, we presented our "ESF SCIENCE" (Summer Camps Investigating Ecology in Neighborhood and City Environments) program, which has been a staple program delivered to well over 1500 students from Syracuse City Schools and community organizations since 2004. The program exposes students to urban environmental science topics and uses a lot of inquiry based, hands-on, in-the-field learning and utilizes a 4-5 person team comprised of ESF Undergraduate and Graduate Students.

In 2016/17 with much input from Trustee Talbot and several of our faculty colleagues: chiefly Emanuel Carter (LA), Lemir Teron(ES) and Neal Abrams(FCH) we have shifted the focus of the program slightly to accentuate urban planning, and environmental justice topics (that have always been woven into our program), and bring them to the forefront of the discussion. To achieve this, we use the I-81 Viaduct, and Onondaga Creek Corridor as case studies and take trips to visit both of those locations.

Overall Impressions: The student feedback of the week was very positive; every student suggested they'd recommend this program to one of their peers. The general themes that arise reflect the thoughts shared by the students from the ESF Science Corps, the faculty and chaperones from SEO, namely that the environmental justice/planning focus was great, but more hands-on time is needed.

The 2018 program should be modified slightly to include more of the traditional Science Corps programming, with a strong focus on hands-on and hands-dirty science. With over a decade of running this type of programming for urban students, we have found these experiences where students are pushed outside their comfort zone are the longest lasting.

These experiences work to enhance the environmental justice focus of the week, serving as an important reminder that none of the issues of the day can be solved without people from all sides, careers, ways-of-thinking and that none of the issues can be solved without people being directly involved.

Fall and Spring semesters, Admissions representatives travel to recruit in NYC and Northern New Jersey where they distribute prospective student cards and information about SUNY ESF and its programs. Aggregate data of prospective students is assembled, and used for forecasting. Collaboration with the Welcome Center in the College. SUNY ESF holds a NYC regional reception every fall at the SUNY Welcome Center to aid in the recruitment of students from the NY metropolitan area. With support from the SUNY Welcome Center, we have an overnight bus trip for approximately 50 accepted students from the NY metropolitan area every spring.

EOP (Educational Opportunity Program): Access to college for under-served students (academically at-risk and economically disadvantaged). The students are often from racially underrepresented backgrounds.

CSTEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program) serves underrepresented or financially disadvantaged NYS resident students already admitted. The purpose of the program is to help increase the numbers of people from these populations in the STEM careers. To that end we provide academic support, mentoring and career development. All these aid in retention of these students. CSTEP is also required to help in the pipeline of students. We help recruit new students by attending the STEP (middle and high school) State Conference annually, participate in days of service that either provide enrichment in the Syracuse city schools or bring students onto campus to shadow a college student for the day. All these programs are designed to expose students to our college and the STEM majors.

Science Corps: During the 2017/18 AY Science Corps engaged over 2500 people from pre-k to adult in STEM related activities. Particular emphasis was paid on outreach to underserved groups in rural and city locations. Programs included a science fair, hands-on science, field experiences and summer programs.

Girls Summit: This program continues to grow and engage girls in the Syracuse area with STEAM activities on the ESF and SU Campuses. The girls are able to interact with women from diverse backgrounds at various workshops, at a key note presentation and with program volunteers representing various student groups, many of which represent women of color. The goal is to provide an opportunity for these youth to see themselves in these roles and continue to seek academic excellence and possibly pursue higher education and employment in these fields.

  • What has been your most successful strategy for the retention of underrepresented students? Please provide the metrics that illustrate your success.

Student Diversity Advisory Council : Created in the Fall of 2015, the council works to identify and address cultural conflicts as they arise and implement campus-wide change to improve the relationship between underrepresented students and the ESF community. The Student Diversity Advisory Council is made up of representatives from all student diversity affinity groups and also has representatives from the Undergraduate Student Association, Graduate Student Association, Centennial Hall, CONNECTIONS Mentors and is open to all students to attend. The council also serves as a conduit for unifying the student diversity affinity groups through social activities including our annual 'Spirit & Essence Week' and 'Social Justice Week' celebrations.

Members of the council are also invited to participate in the Student Diversity & Inclusion Office's Revolution Leadership Retreat each spring to develop leadership skills and facilitate conversation about pressing issues occurring locally, regionally and nationally.

Student Life, Curriculum and Programs

  • What initiatives and/or practices are taking place to make your campus more diverse, inclusive and respectful of difference?

General Education Fair, planned and facilitated by the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Committee is an opportunity for faculty to better understand the capacity to provide General Education courses, beyond STEM-based courses that exists on campus at ESF. This has the potential to minimize our students' reliance on Accessory Instruction at Syracuse University and showcase courses that relate to IDE. This event provides a valuable opportunity for advisers to become well informed of the slate of General Education courses available on campus at ESF in order to more effectively serve their advisees of courses that relate to IDE at course registration.

King's Court Mentor Program - supports ESF's underrepresented male students by providing opportunities for fellowship, creation of various educational programs for their fellow students, and service opportunities to connect with area groups, schools and organizations.

Ladies Against Social Stigmas - They support ESF's underrepresented female students by providing opportunities for fellowship, creation of various educational programs for the campus community, and service opportunities to connect with area groups, schools and organizations

Rainbow Scholars - our newest affinity groups from the Student Diversity & Inclusion Office, the Rainbow Scholars - They support ESF's LGBTQ community by providing opportunities for community building and programming during the academic year.

The Baobab Society is a student group that promotes a culturally conscious community

  • What types of programs do you maintain to encourage cross-cultural exchange among student groups? Please include any course offerings and/or innovations to diversify the curriculum. (see reference to General Education Fair above)

Beginning April, 2018, the campus community was invited by the Chief Diversity Officer, Office of International Education, CSTEP and EOP Director, and Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to attend the inaugural Inclusive Excellence Graduation Reception. This event is to honor our graduating international students, CSTEP and EOP students, and members of Kings, LASS, and the Rainbow Scholars. Families, faculty, staff, and students were welcome to join the celebration. The first-ever Inclusive Excellence Welcome Celebration is scheduled for fall 2018 to formally welcome underrepresented students to campus.