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Commitment to Diversity

Otis College was ranked in the top 1% of all colleges and universities in the nation in diversity. Accordingly, the College's commitment to diversity extends to its faculty, staff, and students, as well as through its curriculum. Examples of this commitment, and how it leads to institutional improvement, include:

The Creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce

In 2016 President Ferguson announced “a new effort at Otis to create a Diversity and Inclusion taskforce that will help form new policies and protocols to enrich the environment for the college community."

Research shows that a social equity plan that includes diversity and equity structures for hiring faculty and staff results in better recruitment of students, and contributes to institutional sustainability. Research also shows a direct correlation between the satisfaction of students of color on a campus and their retention as a result of having a diverse college population. On a campus as diverse as Otis College's, it is necessary and urgent to be aligned with the demographics in order to remain an institution of true quality and relevance. The Diversity and Inclusion taskforce discussed this point and related research, and imagined implementation of diversity and equity initiatives. The following statement was shared with the campus commuiity, based on this work: 

Otis College of Art and Design will actively pursue initiatives, structures, and programming values to establish long-term practices that actively seek and encourage better inclusivity and representation of different segments of populations, including but not limited to visible and invisible minorities and traditionally under-represented groups, with the goal to strive for the widest range of representation in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and expression, age, socioeconomic status, individuals with disabilities, veterans, first-generation students, transfer and international students or global curricula and a variety of distinct ideologies including members of the governing board.

This statement is being further examined within the College community in association with related efforts, including:

Infusing Diversity into the Curriculum
As part of its commitment to diversity, the College is addressing robustly the question of how to infuse diversity into its curriculum. The following five approaches to this are underway, and are further articulated on other linked webpages:

A Faculty Learning Community
Faculty Development resources are available to support interested faculty members in participating in a unique type of working group—a Faculty Learning Community—that focuses on the challenges attendant to infusion of diversity into our curriculum. The Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) allows participants, as part of a group, to research, discuss, debate, synthesize perspectives on, and make recommendations about a common theme or goal. In this case, the FLC helps the College with stipend support to achieve the “infusion” it seeks, both through the FLC itself and through individual Curricular Diversification grants (see below).
Read more about the Faculty Learning Community.

Curricular Diversity Infusion Grants
Special Faculty Development funding is offered in support individual faculty members’ curricular infusion of diversity through their course(s), whether prospective, already accomplished, or underway. Reports will be shared broadly and will inform the academic community of successful approaches across majors and programs.
Read more about these Grant Offerings.

Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) Workshops and Resources
The Otis College Library is acquiring more materials focused on this and related topics, and has formed an excellent archive now available to all faculty, staff, and students.

The Otis College YouTube channel for Faculty Development and Best Practices has useful videos for faculty.

Video Tutorials by Faculty for Faculty are also produced and shared to allow colleagues to learn from one another about themes and topics germane to all who teach our students. [Access limited to Faculty]

Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Programmatic Overview
The Liberal Arts and Sciences program and faculty have focused their attention, specifically, on the infusion question, and have identified key markers and goals for the non-studio courses to ensure that in this part of students’ academic experience multiple perspectives—as a constant—are foregrounded and highlighted at all levels.

Participation in the WSCUC Conference on The Diverse Campus
A cohort from Otis College was part of WASC conference: The Diverse Campus: Intersecting Access and Equity across the Student Experience on February 1, 2018 in Claremont, and will report back to the larger campus community.

All Faculty Convocation focused on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence
President Ferguson and Provost Lavender welcomed keynote speaker, Dr. Tia Brown McNair, Vice President of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges & Universities. Dr. McNair is a leader in advancing student success and making excellence inclusive in higher education. In her keynote presentation, "Advancing Faculty Diversity through the Vision and Practice of Inclusive Excellence," Dr. McNair illuminated ways that institutions can create campus climates and educational practices that evolve with today's increasingly diverse cohort of students who require an institution-wide commitment to addressing diversity, equity, learning, and student success as core values with measurable goals. 

In Dr. McNair’s words, “The challenge for many leaders will be to embrace a sense of “shared responsibility” for promoting inclusive excellence on their campus. Campuses will need to move beyond the numbers - understanding that achieving faculty diversity is more than focused recruitment strategies and will require an institutional climate change that endorses inclusion and creates high-quality learning environments that value and embrace the multiple identities of students, faculty, and staff.”

Anticipated Future Events and Developments

In 2019 Otis College will host an Symposium of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) on its Westchester campus for visitors from the consortium's 42 member schools. At that time, AICAD will report on its own, consortium-wide effort to define and establish bold new approaches to enhancing student, faculty, and staff diversity on its many campusses.