The Inclusive Excellence Framework reaffirms the University of Lynchburg’s commitment to growing and sustaining a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive learning, living, and working environment. Lynchburg strives to be a 21st century learning community defined by excellence through the affirmation of differences in the composition of its leadership, faculty, staff, and students; the configuration of its policies, procedures, organizational structures, curricula, and co-curricular programs; and the fabric of its interpersonal relationships. Applying Inclusive Excellence concepts leads to infusing diversity into our recruiting and hiring processes, educational opportunities, and into our administrative structures and practices. Inclusive Excellence is about being intentional!
As we embark on this work, it is vital to have a starting place for common language for concepts related to the Inclusive Excellence framework. This builds a stronger community and allows us to be specific and intentional in our work. The following are some key shared definitions to consider.
- Diversity: Meaningful representation of groups historically underrepresented in higher education, facilitating a community embodying a multiplicity of identities including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability status, social class, education level, religion, and other sociocultural identities.1
- Equity: The creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented populations to have equal access to and participate in educational programs capable of closing the achievement gaps in student success and completion.1
- Inclusion: The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect—in ways that increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.1
- Belonging: A sense of connection, acceptance, and value as a member and part of a community or institution.2
- Social justice: Social justice is a recognition of the historical and contemporary structural forces that have created systems of inequity and disparity that unfairly advantage some groups and disadvantage other groups, particularly in terms of social status, economic justice, and physical and mental health. It is also a practice of proactively undoing these entrenched systems to allow all persons the opportunity to thrive and live safely, fully, and freely.2
Dimensions of the Inclusive Excellence Framework3
Access and Success
Goal: Achieve a more diverse and inclusive undergraduate, graduate and professional student body, faculty and staff. This dimension refers to the objectives and strategies used to increase or maintain compositional diversity among the university’s constituent groups and includes activities related to recruitment and retention of our students, faculty and staff.
Institutional Climate and Intergroup Relations
Goal: Create and sustain an organizational environment that acknowledges and celebrates diversity and employs inclusive practices throughout its daily operations. This dimension refers to the objectives and strategies that enable the institution to create a climate that is supportive and respectful and that values differing perspectives and experiences.
Education and Scholarship
Goal: Engage students, faculty, staff, alumni and volunteers in learning varied perspectives of domestic and international diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice. We accomplish excellence in education and scholarship by offering courses, creating learning and creative opportunities and designing curricula with attention to inclusion. Targeted professional development activities directed to improving the multicultural competencies of faculty and staff will contribute to a learning and research environment where innovation and creativity thrive.
Goal: Create and sustain an institutional infrastructure that effectively supports progress in achieving diversity goals in the University Strategic Plan. Institutional infrastructure refers to the policies, resources, organizational structures, and the use of metrics and other evidence to drive intentional decision making around diversity, equity and inclusion.
Goal: Leverage the University’s mission to improve outcomes and reduce disparities for historically underrepresented and underserved populations in Lynchburg and surrounding communities, Central VA and beyond.
The guiding principle of Making Excellence Inclusive was created by the Association of American Colleges & Universities in 2005. Read the AAC&U paper on Making Diversity Work on Campus (pdf).