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Pathway to the Diversity Action Plan

Pathway to the Diversity Action Plan

The College of Science's Diversity, Equity, Justice and Inclusion Working Group was charged to create an evidence-based strategic diversity action plan.

The College of Science’s diversity action plan arises out of an immensely challenging moment for American society with deep roots in the past, and tremendous opportunities for the future.

During 2020-2021, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the College of Science, along with the rest of Oregon State University, to move much of its teaching mission online and modify practices in research. The tremendous effort needed to change the way the college conducts its teaching and research activities amplified the presence of inequities within the college, university and society at large.

A renewed national movement arising in response to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others during the summer of 2020 prompted reflections on our obligation to challenge systemic racism and fueled the need to re-examine systemic failures and remove structures and barriers that impede some of our community members.

On October 8, 2020 the College of Science hosted a virtual town hall listening session to give the community an opportunity to center the experiences of Black science students in the college. That event, coupled with many preceding conversations, laid the groundwork for the development of a diversity action plan which seeks to advance anti-racist outcomes by aiming to ensure the college is a more inclusive and equitable place for Black, Latinx, Indigenous and underrepresented students, faculty and staff of color.

On the heels of the #metoo movement, we also recognize that an intersectional perspective is needed to understand the differential and exclusionary effects of systemic inequities across gender, race, sexual orientation, ability and socio-economic status, among other social identities. While challenges have beset all of us, there is unmistakable evidence that Black, Latinx, Indigenous and communities of color have and continue to suffer more with gendered racism affecting people with marginalized genders disproportionately.

Several empirical realities animate the actions that are needed in a strategic diversity action plan. The college needs to improve rates of foundational course success, retention and graduation for students holding minoritized social identities. Demographically, College of Science faculty and student populations in some cases do not proportionally represent Oregon’s general population. Faculty of color are also underrepresented in some areas relative to the fraction of PhDs produced nationwide. While progress has been made in recent years, we still have work to do to eliminate barriers and unequal outcomes for our underrepresented students, faculty and staff.

Work of the Diversity, Equity, Justice and Inclusion Working Group

It is against this backdrop that the College of Science’s Diversity, Equity, Justice and Inclusion (DEJI) Working Group has deliberated our strategic diversity action plan. Over the last several years, OSU has taken significant steps to prioritize and rapidly advance the pursuit of inclusive excellence in all that it does.

In Fall 2020, the Dean of Science, Roy Haggerty, charged the working group to:

  • Write a strategic diversity action plan (DAP) to improve outcomes for underrepresented students, faculty and staff and result in greater numbers of historically underrepresented students who go on to have similar achievement levels to other students in the college.
  • Develop the DAP consultatively with the faculty, staff and students in the college as well as with the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID) and the Cultural Resource Centers.
  • Align the DAP with OSU’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan SP4.0 and OSU’s diversity strategic plan, Innovate and Integrate: Plan for Inclusive Excellence.

The DEJI WG was tasked to:

  • be consistent with scientific inquiry that seeks an understanding of objective reality,
  • be open to constructive criticism from any reasoned point of view and
  • be evidence-based.

The work of the DEJI WG proceeded with this charge in mind.

Outcome of the diversity strategic planning process

The diversity strategic process has resulted in this Diversity Action Plan, Embedding Equity, Access and Inclusion, which will serve as our blueprint for ongoing, iterative organizational development and growth in the College of Science towards inclusive excellence.

Embedding Equity, Access and Inclusion has a charge to target policies and practices creating inequitable outcomes within the broader work of dismantling structural racism. To aid in implementation of the DAP, the college has committed an annual investment of $150,000 in new resources.

Advancing inclusive excellence requires work that is top-down, bottom-up and inside-out (Posselt, 2020). Successful implementation of the five goals in Embedding Equity, Access and Inclusion will require the effort and commitment of all members of our community. Our diversity action plan calls on all members of the College of Science to challenge systemic, organizational and individual racism and implicit biases shaping our notion of who can thrive as part of a science community. We challenge the College of Science community to work collaboratively to create an inclusive and welcoming environment with opportunities for access, belonging and success for all.

These actions extend our reach beyond OSU. Our inclusive community can influence and lead efforts to close equity gaps in the U.S. health care system, both through research and well-prepared graduates. Our broad engagement on sustainability and innovation expands opportunities to discover solutions to the climate crisis, which disproportionately affects marginalized communities. Through our actions, we express the power of the College of Science to help create a just society.