Message from Robin R. Means Coleman
Northwestern University has long been recognized as a leader in higher education, and I am thrilled to build upon the rich legacy of our institution in cultivating a truly inclusive and equitable environment. As Chief Diversity Officer, my core objective is to ensure each member of our community feels not just included, but truly integral to our institutional fabric. My office is committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and supported. Simultaneously, I acknowledge the urgency of implementing strategic interventions to address systemic issues, such as racism, marginalization, and discrimination.
I firmly believe in an institution where diversity, equity, and inclusion are not mere words but woven into the very fabric of our policies, practices, and curriculum. Embedding DEI in all these elements not only enhances our educational outcomes, but also enriches the growth of our community members, while fostering a campus culture of acceptance, understanding, and mutual respect. In line with our commitment, we have adopted a comprehensive approach that centralizes Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Assessment (IDEA) as foundational pillars. This commitment is manifested through several concrete initiatives that you can witness in your day-to-day interactions at Northwestern.
To offer you a glimpse into our ongoing work:
- We have collaborated with the University Registrar, Human Resources, and Information Technology to modernize our University systems to allow for the option to share pronouns and a chosen/preferred name. This is an ongoing, multi-phase project designed to augment support for our gender expansive students, faculty, and staff by bolstering their access to resources and enhancing their experience at Northwestern.
- In an effort to ensure our DEI initiatives are effective and resonant, we purposefully engage with diversity leadership across campus. We regularly consult our IDEA Leaders and have sanctioned several Staff Affinity Groups. These groups play a crucial role in providing valuable insights and fostering a sense of unity and belonging within our diverse community.
- In January 2023, we welcomed the first cohort of the IDEA Scholars Mentoring and Coaching Leadership Program. This initiative is specifically designed for mid-career faculty members from underrepresented groups at the University. The program aims to enhance their leadership skills, provide internal and external support and mentorship, and create an empowering pathway for advancement.
These initiatives are only the beginning. In addition to executing DEI-focused programs, we also strive to identify and dismantle systemic barriers, and to provide guidance and resources to enrich our pedagogical practices.
I am genuinely excited about the possibilities that lie ahead of us. Together, we can transform Northwestern into an institution where diversity is cherished, equity is a cornerstone, and inclusion is deeply ingrained in our ethos. I invite each member of our Northwestern community to wholeheartedly participate in this transformative journey. Your voice, your ideas, and your engagement are vital to us as we strive to shape Northwestern into an even more vibrant and inclusive institution.
Robin R. Means Coleman