Fall 2020: Diversity Action Plan Implementation
Fall 2020 Anti-Racism Actions
In November of 2020, the Mission and Social Justice Committee of the Board of Trustees jointly met with the University’s diversity leadership team—Kay Turner, vice president for human resources; Rafael Zapata, chief diversity officer, special assistant to the president for diversity, and associate vice president for academic affairs; and Juan Carlos Matos, assistant vice president for student affairs for diversity and inclusion—who outlined the ways in which their areas of the University are implementing or planning to implement the goals of our anti-racism plan:
GOAL: Develop Robust Admissions Strategies for Effective Recruitment of Students of Color to Fordham
To address the racial and socioeconomic disparities that standardized testing reinforces and exacerbates as well as the effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on academic schedules Fordham University made standardized admissions tests—the SAT and ACT—optional beginning with the fall 2021 entering class, for a two-year period, at the end of which the University will revisit the policy.
Partnering with Neighboring High Schools
We have expanded the number of high schools in neighboring communities to which we commit to meet full need for their graduates admitted to the University, and our efforts will be further aided by a $250,000 addition to the scholarship fund established by the Fordham Jesuit Community targeted at recruiting students from the schools in the Cristo Rey Network. This work includes Gabelli students tutoring and mentoring students in the honors program at Cardinal Hayes High School. The program, now in its third year, is a recruiting pipeline from Cardinal Hayes to Fordham.
College Access Fair
For the 12th year in a row, with the help of a grant from the Bloomberg Foundation and the assistance of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, Fordham hosted the only College Access Fair (held virtually) for Black and Latinx students in New York state, attracting 915 students this year.
Associate Director for Diversity Initiatives
The admission team has focused on ways to attract more Black and Latinx students to the University including creating a new position and hiring an associate director for diversity initiatives last spring.
GOAL: Recruit and Retain a More Diverse Faculty, Administration, and Staff
Faculty and Staff
The Office of Human Resources Management has created diversity-focused recruitment, retention, and talent management practices for use by all of the schools and divisions of the University and of the 26 Arts and Sciences full-time tenure/tenure-track faculty hired this year, 50% are persons of color and overall, 48% of the new full-time staff, administrators, tenure/tenure-track and non-tenure/tenure-track faculty hired since 1 July 2020 are persons of color: 53% are women; 14% are Latinx, and 17% are Black.
In the area of Residential Life, almost 46% of the RAs at Rose Hill and almost 60% of the RAs at Lincoln Center are people of color. At Lincoln Center, 10.8% of RAs are Latinx and 18.9% are Black. At Rose Hill, 20.6% of RAs are Latinx and 9.2% are Black.
Endowed Chair in African and African American Studies
With a bequest from Margaret Peil, Fordham has created the Margaret Peil Distinguished Chair in African and African American Studies, the first of its kind at the University.
GOAL: Develop Curricular and Co-curricular Initiatives That Support the Imperative of Confronting Racism and Educating for Justice
The Arts and Sciences faculty and deans are undertaking a systematic assessment of the current Core Curriculum and framing a proposal for its future revision. (The faculty-led Core Curriculum Task Force should begin this revision work in fall 2021.) Arts and Sciences’ current work is centered on responding to student requests to integrate anti-racism into the existing Core Curriculum. At the same time, individual programs and departments are beginning to respond to the call for teaching race across the curriculum by implementing interim revisions to their core (e.g., Art History, Theology) and major (e.g., English) course offerings.
During Academic Orientation for the fall semester, Fordham College at Rose Hill and Fordham College at Lincoln Center made The Colossus of New York, by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, the first Summer Read shared by the two colleges. The faculty of the two schools prepared students for their orientation sessions with programming throughout the summer, and followed the orientation experience with sessions that addressed a range of topics, including race, identity, and belonging.
GOAL: Create a More Welcoming and Affirming Campus
The Board of Trustees, the members of the cabinet, and the deans as well as a number of administrative units have already undergone or begun this training with the help and guidance of experienced professional trainers. In addition, anti-racism sessions and training modules were included in the orientation programs for all entering students, and the Student Affairs staff underwent a mandatory, all-day training program focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. Finally, the Office of Human Resources Management has worked with outside vendors and experts to develop and offer a series of training sessions and online tutorials on how to confront racism.
Office of Multicultural Affairs
The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) has created a Racial Solidarity Network, a network open to all Fordham University community members who would like to demonstrate their active commitment to creating a campus environment that is open and welcoming to all students. In addition, OMA offered workshops exploring implicit bias and racism to over 800 students, including all RAs, commuter assistants, and orientation leaders.
Counseling and Psychological Services
In the course of the fall semester, Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) offered support spaces and one-off workshops on a variety of topics, including: Coping with Imposter Syndrome; Drop-In Support Space for Armenian Students; What Does It Mean to Be Asian Now and How to Cope With It; Building Community for International Students; and Navigating Police Brutality and Racial Trauma. CPS also offered weekly support groups, including: Women of Color Healing and Empowerment Circle; LGBTQ+ Community Support Space; and Chinese International Students Drop-In Group.
In July 2020, a group of 48 deans, directors, administrative assistants, and other staff participated in a pilot student-outreach initiative to try to understand how the pandemic and this summer’s heightened awareness of racial injustice was affecting them. Out of the 175 returning students with whom administrators and staff had conversations, most students wanted to be connected to the Office of Career Services, class deans, advisers, and the libraries. Students spoke about wanting to be more active and integrated at the University. They also spoke of the benefits and drawbacks of the hybrid offerings. Some students also shared their sense of displacement associated with the abrupt return home due to the pandemic.
GOAL: Build Lasting Partnerships With Our Neighbors
GOAL: Amplify our Voice in Educating for Justice Beyond the Campus
Along with partnering with area high schools referenced under Enrollment, the University is continuing to look for ways to make our campuses more accessible and welcoming to the local community once we are out of the pandemic and can contemplate having visitors on campus again.