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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) has been charting a new path forward in equity-centered campus transformation — not only for the division, but for the entire University of Utah community.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy Council (EDISC) are among many firsts for the university and will organize a collective effort toward an equitable and inclusive campus. As part of the Strategic Plan, four strategic pillars have been developed to inform the work of the Strategy Council.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy Council is comprised of a representative from each college, division, unit and organization at the University of Utah to lead in the development and alignment of equity, diversity and inclusion efforts by implementing shared equity leadership practices across the university.

EDISC engaged in a fast-paced, four-month shared equity leadership (SEL) session, conducted by New Leadership Academy Director Amy Fulton, to develop shared language, practices and values for collaboratively working to ensure equity is imbedded throughout the U’s structures and systems. The council appointed “Working Groups,” with assigned leads from EDI, to focus on the strategic priority areas:

Fostering an Inclusive Campus Climate

We will consistently assess the university policies, programs and practices to ensure a culture that is equitable and inclusive of the diverse individuals represented throughout our community.

Lead: Victoria Cabal, Director of Research and Analysis; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

Securing Health Equity

We courageously and creatively develop institutional policies, practices and programs that eliminate health inequities and ensure all patients and clients achieve equitable health outcomes.

Lead: José E. Rodríguez, Associate Vice President for Health Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; University of Utah Health

Amplifying Community Engagement

We actively cultivate community connections where trust is built and the structural effects of injustice are uprooted to transform the future of the university.

Lead: Emma E. Houston, Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer

Ensuring Belonging for All

We are boldly determined to create a campus where everyone knows their authentic self is affirmed and supported in order to thrive at the University of Utah and beyond.

Lead: Daniel K. Cairo, Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

The Working Groups are tasked with identifying specific areas that produce barriers to success, belonging, engagement or equity, and each strategic pillar will be discussed further as part of the upcoming Friday Forums on Racism in Higher Education series.

EDISC will also consider other matters, such as available resources, accountability, implementations and Operation Bold Transition alignment before making its own recommendations. With this cohesive shared equity leadership approach, the University of Utah will become more diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist through its policies, practices and programs.

Written reports will be publicly shared via the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy Council webpage when available.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy Council and its Working Groups gathered in May 2022 to discuss aspects and their collective thoughts on successfully transforming the University of Utah into an equity-focused institution. As an outcome of this strategy retreat, the four Working Groups are completing the following prompts in preparation for making recommendations to EDISC:

  1. What challenges come along with leading together with the lens of equity (e.g., individual challenges, institutional or team challenges, systematic challenges, etc.)?
  2. How can we work together to navigate these challenges?
  3. How can shared equity leadership help us navigate these challenges?
  4. What can we produce and model to help our colleagues navigate these challenges?
  5. How do you envision ways the SEL model might further facilitate your and your team’s equity goals and aspirations as they align with the college?

The Working Groups will consult with their colleagues and teams to obtain information and encourage open discussion. This might include, but is not limited to, organizing open meetings, questionnaires, targeted discussions and participating in staff meetings. A drafted report shall be shared for discussion at a dedicated faculty/staff meeting, after which a final report will be drawn up to include considerations and justifications for recommendations in terms of strategic importance, fit to the university and internal/external community context.

Final recommendations will be shared with the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy Council in Fall Semester 2022.

Emma E. Houston is the assistant vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and chief diversity officer. She brings significant experience in working with teams to create inclusive spaces and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion to create a positive impact across the community. Ms. Emma is a longtime community advocate and volunteer who serves on several boards and commissions.

Campus Climate  EDI