You are here

Otis College Ten Points

  1. We do not tolerate racism or any other form of violence or discrimination.
  2. we expect all Otis community members to work towards dismantling systems of opression.
  3. We recognize the college's historical struggles around equity and the ways those reflect the struggle in US culture and beyond.
  4. We recognize diversity as a reality, a responsibility, and a resource.
  5. We commin to treating every person's identity with dignity and respect.
  6. We commit to practicing institutional responsibility to redress unjust histories.
  7. We commit to an ongoing systemic and structural approach in correcting inequities. This work is collective, not indivitual.
  8. We commit to hold ourselves and one another accountable to our collective effort to create an inclusive campus.
  9. We commit to honesty, vulnerability and openness as we dialogue across differences.
  10. We commit to an intersectional and Justice-oriented approach.

Message from the President

Otis College of Art and Design works continuously to develop and sustain programs and initiatives in support of our diverse community of artists and designers. This work does not happen in a vacuum. It takes thoughtful and intentional strategic planning to interrogate our systems and integrate newer ones grounded in inclusion.

It is our commitment to keep our leadership accountable as we work toward our goal of a greater sense of belonging. The Otis Community has a deep commitment to shared governance as we work across all constituent groups, fostering a more collaborative spirit among committees, staff, faculty, students, alumnx, and academic leadership.

The information that follows is a progress report of where we stand related to diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and data points. This Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Progress Report should serve as a foundational source of information for us to reflect on what we have accomplished thus far, but more importantly, address what we must improve upon in order to meet our goals of fostering a truly inclusive community.

Our Commitments:

Meta College Program

  • In partnership with The Metaphor Club, Otis College launched this program in 2021 to expand upon outreach and recruitment of students from underrepresented communities who have a desire to attend an art and design college.

Summer of Art

  • Scholarships are granted in collaboration with local community organizations to support underrepresented youth and provide an opportunity to develop their creative passions during this pre-college summer program for students ages 12-18 years with a four week residential experience.

Summer Language Program (SLP)

  • Students who do not meet Admission’s Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirements may be conditionally admitted to Otis College pending successful completion of the Otis College Summer Language Program, which provides a strong foundation to start their BFA studies.
  • In addition to improving language abilities, students have the opportunity to engage in a studio elective course and connect with other Otis College students before the start of the Fall semester.

Summer of Style

  • Supported and sponsored by celebrity stylist Jason Bolden, this six-day program for high school students of color introduces them to the worlds of fashion, product, and interior design, in an effort to widen the pipeline to these creative industries for underrepresented youth.

BIPOC Student Summit

  • Launched in January 2021, this one day summit focuses on creating a community space for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students to connect around shared or similar identity(ies), while addressing the realities of being a person of color within the creative industry.
  • This program is meant to uplift and empower BIPOC student voices through dialogue on topics of personal development, professional growth, and opportunities beyond graduation.
  • More information about this program here:

Black Creatives Institute

  • Launched in August 2020, this three day program builds community among incoming Black-identified creatives by providing holistic support of their personal growth, identity formation, cultural development, and career development to create a stronger sense of belonging within the Otis College community.
  • Eight out of the nine initial students who participated in the inaugural year of this program returned in their second year, yielding an 88.8% first to second year retention rate.
  • More information about the program is here:

Charles White Scholarship

  • This is a full-tuition scholarship up to four years, available to underrepresented young artists and designers from Los Angeles and beyond. Priority is given to students who identify as Black/African American; Latinx; Asian; Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; American Indian or Alaska Native; or students who identify as bi- or multiracial.
  • The Scholarship will be awarded to an incoming first-year or transfer art and design student from an underrepresented community in Los Angeles County in Spring 2022 for a Fall 2022 start.
  • Beginning in 2023, the Charles White Art and Design Scholarship will expand to include one recipient annually from Los Angeles County, and one from anywhere in the United States.
  • More information can be found here:

DEI Education and Engagement

  • All incoming new students, both undergraduate and graduate, are required to complete a DEI and Belonging course, providing foundational knowledge of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The First-Year Experience program, Take FLIGHT, centers DEI discussion as a part of its six core modules.

Preferred Name and Pronouns

  • The College has a Pronoun and Preferred Name Policy that enables any student to use the pronoun they desire and name they prefer, and incorporates this within our class rosters, platforms, and other college systems.
  • Preferred name and pronoun education sessions have been launched to various faculty and staff groups, including a student panel education session. Student Leadership Training
  • All student leaders engage in a deep understanding and education around DEI issues across campus, with comprehensive training on how to work with students across differences, and support inclusive efforts to empower our student population.

Veterans Student Support

  • Otis College has a long-standing veterans student support group that is centered around community engagement and visibility of our veterans, allowing them to connect and engage with each other around their unique experiences returning to college.
  • Sustained financial support from the Ahmanson Foundation has allowed Otis College to fund programs and initiatives to enhance the veteran student experiences
  • We participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps finance college education for veterans, in addition to providing a privately-named scholarship funded through the Ahmanson Foundation.

Accessibility Committee

  • Committee focused on developing resources for faculty to engage in best practices and learning opportunities on accessibility and student experiences around disability and neurodiversity.
  • Small learning sessions have been launched to help faculty connect and share resources to better support the student experience.

AICAD BIPOC Academic Leadership Institute

  • The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion sponsored seven faculty and staff to participate in the second annual Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) BIPOC Academic Leadership Institute, providing professional development and mentoring opportunities.

Diversity in the Curriculum

  • Support faculty development through grants to encourage infusing diversity in the curriculum. Additionally, the DEI Curriculum Subcommittee continues to work toward the goal of creating an inclusive curriculum and approaches to pedagogy that is culturally responsive.
  • DEI PechaKucha-style presentations are infused in Academic Assembly to provide faculty with a variety of examples on how to integrate and leverage DEI practices related to curriculum development and pedagogy.
  • Revision of course evaluations to include DEI assessment as an accountability measure for faculty to work toward developing, improving, and/or enhancing their current practices in the classroom.

Implicit Bias Training

  • Inclusive practices training for all faculty and staff who serve on hiring committees in order to mitigate bias in the hiring process.

LGBTQIA+ Inclusion Committee

  • Committee focused on policies and practices toward an inclusive climate for our LGBTQIA+ community members.
  • This committee developed a progress report that was reviewed and assessed by the Campus Pride Index, awarding Otis College 4 out of 5 stars on our effort to create a supportive community. The Campus Pride Index Ranking can be reviewed here.

Teaching and Learning Center Resources

  • Resources and training developed for faculty to be able to engage in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) efforts in order to optimize classroom accessibility for students.
  • Teaching and learning resources provided on Anti-Racism, Black Lives Matter, and Gender Identity and Expression.

Black Alumnx Engagement

  • Ongoing engagement between Black alumnx and senior administrators, in which critical feedback was shared in an effort in an effort to improve the experiences of our Black students and alumnx.
  • Specific engagement opportunities included focus groups, hosted discussions with the President and Provost, and social engagements to strengthen relationships with our alumnx.

Alumnx Exploration Series

  • Partnership with faculty alumnx Marsha Hopkins (’97 BFA Fine Arts, ’02 MFA Writing) on Black History Month programming to host speakers Emory Douglas, Michael D. McCarthy, and a discussion group surrounding the  history of Black entrepreneurs in Los Angeles.

Community Museum Visits

  • Partnership between the Office of DEI and Student Activities to offer complimentary entries to alumnx and members of the on-campus community to DEI-focused exhibitions throughout Los Angeles.

Alumnx Representation on the DEI Council and DEI-focused Committees

  • Alumnx representation on the college-wide DEI Council.
  • Alumnx Relations representation on Indigenous Community Committee, LGBTQIA+ Inclusion Committee, and the BIPOC Student Summit planning team. Introduction of the term “Alumnx”
  • Introduction of gender-inclusive term “alumnx” to the Otis Community, moving forward with a college-wide adoption of this term.

While we have made progress in our DEI work, there is much more to be done. These initiatives and ideas are not an exhaustive list of future goals we hope to accomplish, rather a beginning that will serve as a launchpad, as various constituent groups contribute to a strategic planning process, including our DEI Council.

Affinity-Focused Programming

Similar to our Black Creatives Institute, research and develop future programs that would benefit our students from various historically-marginalized communities and implement programs/services that are right-sized and focused on their student success pathway.
DEI Strategic Planning
A comprehensive strategy on how we enact diversity, equity, and inclusion on this campus must be developed with a three-to-five year goal-setting structure. This will entail faculty, staff, students, and alumnx to participate in a strategic planning process in order to engage all voices.

DEI Engagement and Education for Faculty and Staff

The DEI Council has established an Engagement and Education Subcommittee, one of four standing subcommittees, whose focus is to provide expertise and guidance to the AVP, DEI on a multilayered engagement program on DEI topics, including a focus on anti-racism, community building, and inclusion practices.

Enhance Student Education and Engagement with DEI

Work collaboratively with Academic Affairs, Campus Life, and Student Affairs to increase our efforts on how students interact with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, in addition to the online education program. This includes understanding and education of implicit bias, identity development, and introduction to DEI topics in tandem with their creative practices.

Faculty Development

Develop and implement a comprehensive and continuous faculty development program for teaching and critiquing diverse students.

Recruitment and Hiring

In partnership with Human Resources and Development, work on improving the College’s recruitment and hiring practices in order to ensure diverse candidate pools for faculty and staff positions, and enhancing our application process to leverage the importance of DEI.


Download the Report