Dean VandenBosch responds to requests from Equity and Diversity Committee

Earlier this year, the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee (EDC) forwarded five requests to Dean Kate VandenBosch intended to increase diversity, inclusion and anti-racism in the college. Dean VandenBosch recently responded to the committee members on all five requests.

VandenBosch also recognized their efforts, saying, “I want to thank the committee for their thoughtful and diligent work this extraordinary year, especially during the pandemic and challenging social justice issues in our society.”

Her responses to each topic are summarized below.

EDC Request: Establish best practices in hiring faculty and college leaders to enhance equitable search and screen processes.

I support the hiring best practices and checklist for faculty and leadership positions to promote equity and diversity. These best practices for hiring faculty and college leaders were shared with department chairs on Dec. 14, 2020 and are available on the CALS HR website. My goal is that all faculty and collegiate administrative searches will follow this guidance beginning in the 2021 calendar year.

EDC Request: Include a CALS anti-racism statement in position vacancy listings (PVLs) and other communications.

I support the inclusion of an anti-racism statement in all PVLs, relevant documents, and communications to clearly articulate our view and commitment to anti-racism in reference to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I will charge the CALS leadership team to develop this statement by February 1, 2021 and require its inclusion in all PVLs after discussion and approval by the appropriate CALS committees. This new statement will appear along with the existing diversity statement already standard in all PVLs.

We will also assess other communications where this anti-racism statement can be included and report back to the committee with our recommendations at an early meeting in the 2021 spring semester.

EDC Request: Implement mandatory cultural competency training for all CALS faculty and staff.

I appreciate the ideas provided in the proposal for mandatory anti-racism/cultural competency training for all faculty and staff. I overall support this idea; however, this is a large effort and will take time to develop and operationalize. There is a campus committee, charged by the interim deputy vice chancellor and chief diversity officer and the vice provost for faculty and staff affairs, currently evaluating available training options and capacity, and we hope to learn more about their findings soon. That could greatly influence how we implement this recommendation in CALS, and I will continue to monitor their progress. Meanwhile, I am consulting with deans of other UW-Madison schools and colleges that have implemented a similar expectation. My goal is to bring this to the CALS APC for discussion early in the new calendar year.

EDC Request: Implement mandatory equity and diversity training for CALS graduate students.

I support mandatory graduate student training in equity and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs Bill Barker and I discussed this topic with Graduate School Dean Karpus when we met with him in October. We learned that the Graduate School is partnering with the Division of Diversity, Equity, & Educational Achievement to inventory options and capacity for graduate student training. I have since forwarded the EDC’s letter to Dean Karpus with my endorsement and requested an update on the progress of the inventory on training. If sufficient opportunities for training of all graduate students cannot be provided centrally, then I will explore whether the college can provide this for students enrolled in CALS programs.

EDC request: Establish an office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in CALS.

I support developing an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office in the college, to lead the development of strategic equity, diversity, and inclusion priorities, support our goals, collaborate with and support departments, centers, and units in their goals and activities, and provide continued support to faculty, staff, and students in underrepresented communities.

I am exploring the creation and funding of one full-time position, with the intention of creating a second position in the future. For the first position, I will recruit a chief diversity officer to provide leadership and create the office, as well as assess the most immediate needs of our college. My goal is to have a recruitment plan in place by the spring of 2021.