Yale unveils University-wide five year plans for diversity, equity and inclusion
The University on Monday announced detailed proposals for enhancing diversity and equity throughout Yale.
Tim Tai, Staff Photographer
Yale has unveiled its plans for improved diversity, equity and inclusion within the University community, providing insight into priorities across each school and administrative division.
In a Monday email to the Yale community, Kimberly Goff-Crews, Secretary and Vice President for University Life and leader of the Belonging at Yale initiative, released a set of five-year unit plans for enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion, along with broad University-wide policies. In a series of 21 infographics, schools and administrative divisions ranging from Yale College to Operations outlined their policy proposals and goals for the coming years. One such proposal is to triple the number of students who participate in First-Year Scholars at Yale, a summer program for incoming students from first-generation or low-income backgrounds. However, students expressed reservations about the proposals, suggesting that they don’t go far enough nor address the root causes of the issue at hand.
“In support of our common mission of excellence and engagement, Yale’s schools and administrative divisions have developed and are now implementing five-year plans to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging,” Goff-Crews wrote. “The plans reflect accomplishments to date, current activities, and long-term commitments to this high-priority work.”
Each plan breaks its priorities down into a number of categories, with some units focusing on issues particular to their field. Among the categories are scholarship and research, diversity in the community, professional development of inclusive practice and acknowledgement and respect.
In an interview with the News, Goff-Crews reflected on the two years of work that led to the roadmap. She expressed her appreciation for the over 150 people who worked together to put together these plans, and praised the synergy and collaboration that produced them. Goff-Crews stressed that the process is a “marathon and not a sprint” and that this announcement reflects a “moment of clarity” in a long term endeavor.
The plans outlined in her email, however, vary in their level of detail and inclusion of measurable goals.
The Yale College graphic, while limited in its description of means, sets clear, measurable goals for the next five years. In addition to tripling the size of the First-year Scholars at Yale summer bridge program, the College also seeks to double the size of the Science, Technology and Research Scholars Program, which supports women, minority, economically underprivileged and other underrepresented students in the STEM fields. In its goal to support the New Haven community, the College is planning on increasing its usage of “local, especially minority-owned” businesses for Yale College functions and programming.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, however, was more abstract with its goals, expressing a desire to increase the breadth of race-related studies and improve its communication and awareness. The FAS also announced a plan to begin investigating the faculty recruitment process.
“Academic excellence is inextricably tied to diversity, equity, mutual respect, and inclusion among all constituents of a great institution,” FAS Dean Tamar Gendler wrote on the graphic. “Our commitment to this idea must drive cultural shifts in how we carry out research, education, and service across the arts and sciences.”
The Law School’s plan focuses on ideas such as “becom[ing] a leader in expanding employment opportunities for people with criminal convictions,” supporting New Haven businesses and featuring staff voices in discussions of diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Law School’s infographic is based on a 41 page report, which began in 2019, according to YLS DEI committee co-chair and professor of law James Forman. He said that since 2016, the School plans to reconvene every three years to review progress that has been made and assess what other actions need to be taken. He said that the report itself, by documenting the changes the school is committing to, and then reconvening to make sure those changes are followed through with, is a means of holding the administration accountable.
In conversations with the News, students’ responses to the announcement were reserved, with some suggesting that the plans did not go far enough in advancing justice and failed to lay out detailed steps for achieving their stated goals.
“I think there are aspects of these policies that may actually help address some of Yale [College’s] diversity and inclusion challenges,” Daevan Mangalmurti ’24 wrote in an email. “But I am concerned that these measures both do little — engaging in vague promises and inarticulate articulations of policy — and sidestep the real diversity and equity challenges Yale faces.”
Mangalmurti continued, noting that while some of the proposals at Yale College seem significant and may help to diversify subsequent classes of undergraduates, there are also other simple measures that could be implemented to reduce barriers for low-income students, such as eliminating laundry fees.
Patrick Hayes ’24 similarly expressed the need for the University to “radically rethink” what Yale’s $42.3 billion endowment could do to “really address racism, injustice and inequality.” He said that actions he would like to see is Yale “paying its fair share” of taxes and defunding the Yale Police Department.
Others expressed disappointment that the University was not going far enough to address the root issue of a lack of diversity and equity. Maya Kyriakides ’24 said she was not surprised by the limited policy responses from the University.
“I guess I am happy with any steps Yale takes in the “right” direction, I do not mean to say they should not do the things outlined,” Kyriakides said. “However, I know that they will use these small consolations to create the illusion that they care about tangible change for communities harmed by Yale.”
In Kyriakides’ view, Monday’s announcement did not reflect any radical steps toward justice or policy change that will broadly impact the student body, staff or others harmed or affected by Yale.
In all the plans, however, unit leaders boasted a series of achievements in furthering diversity in their fields. According to the Yale Athletics infographic, 100 percent of its staff and coaches have attended annual diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging training. The Law School also announced that it had tripled its number of Black and Latino faculty over the last five years. Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun pointed to the plan to double the budgets of the College’s four cultural centers, as well as the recent reduction of the student share of tuition.
“We have made much progress towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Yale College and we have much more to do over the coming years,” Chun wrote. “All voices need to be welcomed and valued for us to achieve our mission of educating the next generation of leaders.”
Jennifer Frederick, who works at the Poorvu Center and served as the chair of the DEI committee at the Global Division and Academic Initiatives unit, detailed the process behind the formulation of their policies as well as its challenges. In an email to the News, she wrote that she formed a committee in 2020 to begin exploring possible policies and met frequently with individuals who had concerns or suggestions within the unit.
“Because this unit is so diverse, our committee faced two primary challenges: incorporating the many existing DEIB-focused activities that predated the plan, and recognizing that individuals across the unit have varied levels of prior experience with DEIB efforts,” Frederick wrote.
The DEI committee at the Yale School of Management similarly experienced challenges in formulating its proposals, according to Assistant Dean of Inclusion and Diversity Kristen Beyers. She said the biggest challenge they faced in crafting this plan was ensuring that they were “intentional with [their] goals to increase representation and engagement for historically marginalized and under-represented groups.”
The committees across the University also sought to include a wide array of perspectives and backgrounds. Within the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, for example, the DEI committee took race and gender into consideration when appointing members, but also deliberately sought to have a variety of representation from all levels of academia, including undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, staff and faculty, according to Florian Carle, manager of the Yale Quantum Institute and member of the SEAS DEI committee.
The new website also details a series of University-wide initiatives to bolster DEI across the institution. These initiatives will be implemented over the five year timeline, but University President Peter Salovey has also marked specific goals which should be achieved within the next year. These include investing in minority faculty and postdoctoral mentorship, “reimagin[ing]” policing and public safety and examining the University’s connection to slavery.
The Jackson Institute had one of the most detailed sets of proposals, outlining its specific goals for the coming year and what it will do to achieve those goals.
“I’m pleased with my school’s five-year plan. It’s an accurate representation of what Jackson aspires to be,” said Maya Saint Germain MA ’22, a member of Jackson’s DEI Council. “It’s a great starting point — the next big challenge is for us to execute.”
Jackson hopes to further its commitment to diversity across “broad demographic dimensions” and plans to undertake two specific actions in the first year to reach this goal. First, the school will continue enhancing financial aid and increase outreach and recruitment of applicants from under-represented ethnic and regional backgrounds. Additionally, the school will broaden its outreach for attracting Senior Fellows and create a new nomination process for recommending the fellows.
Over the next five years, the units will be continually evaluating the progress of their plans.
“We’re going to be constantly checking in with [each unit] every year about where they are making progress and where they’re not,” Goff-Crews said. “And then five years from now, we’ll have to do an assessment about, what did we accomplish over the last five years? Where do we want to go in the next five years?”
The University’s five-year effort to enhance DEI initiatives and promote an environment of welcome, inclusion and respect is titled “Belonging at Yale.”