Four Taskforces on Diversity and Inclusion

February 8, 2016

Dear Campus Community,

Building and fostering a diverse and inclusive community of scholarship, teaching, learning and service at the University of San Diego is rooted in our identity and character as a Catholic university.  We recognize the dignity of every member of our community.  We welcome and treasure all and seek to build a culture of care and inclusivity daily on our campus.  Our commitment to continue to find ways to accomplish our goals is rooted in the Christian tradition that calls us all to love one another. To be successful we will need to recommit ourselves to the challenges and opportunities that we will and can encounter in this new semester and beyond.

In that spirit, one of the themes I referred to in my spring welcome campus message was increasing diversity and understanding of diverse cultures across campus. I am convinced, with your support and participation, we can accelerate the progress we have made on hiring practices and protocols, and the orientation and ongoing process of building a culture of care for new faculty, staff and students.  Already, we utilize a number of hiring processes and protocols for faculty, staff and administrators that have encouraged search committees to use best practices to create diverse pools of candidates, which has resulted in more robust hiring practices and increased hires of colleagues from underrepresented groups. We also have in place employee orientation programs as well as a vigorous orientation process for our incoming students. However, as an academic community, we are fully aware that this work is never complete and that we should seek to improve our practices to achieve our goal of creating a culture of care that embraces every member of our campus community.

The progress we have made over the past five years in increasing the employment of faculty of color is one example of the good work that has been done to make our campus community more diverse and inclusive. Our work in this area was informed by the recommendations of the Committee on Inclusion & Diversity (2007) and the President’s Advisory Board on Inclusion & Diversity (2010), which led to the establishment of the Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CID). In 2012, the CID began collaborating with faculty, staff, and administrators to utilize toolkits and guidelines for all searches. Through these new guidelines the University sought to adopt best practices in diversifying pools of candidates and framed how we defined the best candidate from an inclusive, mission-driven framework. Today, most faculty searches utilize the Toolkit for Faculty Recruitment & Retention and hold charge meetings with the Associate Provost for Inclusion & Diversity prior to the selection of candidates. This has led to new recruitment strategies that have resulted in cluster hires and the creation of postdoctoral programs aimed at specific underrepresented populations. As a result, instructional faculty of color increased to 21% in 2014 from 18% in 2010.

While we can all take pride in the success of the University in increasing the diversity of our faculty in recent years, much work still needs to be done. If we are to realize our full potential as one of the nation’s preeminent Catholic universities, we must accelerate our efforts with regard to the recruitment, orientation and ongoing development of all members of our community. To help us move forward, I am charging four university-wide taskforces to look into hiring practices, orientation and ongoing development of faculty/staff as well as the orientation and ongoing development of students. With regard to orientation and ongoing development, I am asking the taskforces to specifically review our current practices on how we prepare people to embrace the diversity of our campus community.

The four University task forces that have been formed are:
• Faculty and staff recruitment and hiring practices 
• Faculty and staff orientation and ongoing development 
• The first year student experience 
• The second year student experience

In keeping with the spirit and commitment to our mission I have discovered since arriving at USD, I was not surprised when everyone who was asked to serve on these taskforces agreed to dedicate their time and energy to this important work. I am grateful to the following people for their willingness to serve.

Faculty and Staff Recruitment and Hiring Practices Taskforce
Sonia Zarate, PhD, Director, Office of Undergraduate Research (co-chair)
Lisa Baird, PhD, Professor of Biology (co-chair)
Msgr. Dan Dillabough, Vice President, Mission & Ministry
Jesse Mills, PhD, Chair & Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies
Nick Ladany, PhD, Dean, School of Leadership and Education Sciences
Erin Lovette-Colyer, Director, Women’s Center
Johanna Hunsaker, PhD, Chair, Management and Social/Legal Research
Shannon McCarron, Assistant Vice President of Budget & Treasury
Leah Mikulsky, Coordinator, Employment Services
Adan Sanchez, Associate Director, Multicultural Center
Nicki Schuessler, PhD, Director, Title IX and Equal Employment Opportunity Programs
Dan Yourg, Associate Director of Athletics for Business

Faculty and Staff Orientation and Ongoing Development Taskforce
Sandra Sgoutas-Emch, PhD, Director, Center for Educational Excellence (co-chair)
Janice Evelyn, Director of Learning and Development, Human Resources (co-chair)
Charlene Ables, Administrative Manager, Athletics
Andy Allen, PhD, Vice President and Provost
Karen Briggs, PhD, Assistant Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Chris Burden, Director, Disability and Learning Difference Resource Center
Adriana Garcia, Employee Relations Manager and Title IX Education and Compliance Coordinator
Jen Lee, Assistant Director, Student Activities, University Center Operations
Lynne Morris, Director, Budget & Administrative Services, Facilities Management
Sr. Virginia Rodee, RSCJ, Assistant Vice President for Mission & Ministry

The First Year Student Experience Taskforce
Esteban del Río, PhD, Director, Center for Inclusion and Diversity (co-chair)
Amanda Puetz, Community Director –Missions B, Residential Life (co-chair)
Ashley Barton, EdD, Director, Black Student Resource Center
Jonathan Bowman, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Josh Coyne, Assistant Director, Associated Students
Dante Enriquez ‘17, Chair, Theme Advisory Council
Greg Grassi, Associate Director, International Students and Scholars
James Gump, PhD, Professor of History 
Ryan Jumamil, Director, Student Support Services
Margaret Leary, Assistant Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Programs
Tess Nunn, Coordinator, Living Learning Communities
Patrick Marino, Associate Director, Center Housing
Lexy McDermott, Coordinator, First and Second Year Experience
Mayté Perez-Franco, Director, Multicultural Center
Allie Ross ‘16, Chair, Preceptorial Assistant Council
Ron Valenzuela, Assistant Athletic Director for Academics and Student Development
Alexis Wilburn ‘18

The Second Year Student Experience Taskforce
Luke LaCroix, Associate Director, Central Housing (co-chair)
Nicki Schuessler, PhD, Director, Title IX and Equal Employment Opportunity Programs (co-chair)
Mark Ceder, Assistant Director, Outdoor Adventures
Michael Lovette-Colyer, Assistant Vice President for Mission and Ministry
Sara Duvoisin ‘18
Juan Rivas Espinosa, Assistant Director, Changemaker HUB
Kira Espiritu, PhD, Director, International Studies Abroad
Diane Hoffoss, PhD, Associate Professor, Mathematics
Carol Norman, Director, Campus Restaurants
Renda Quinn, Director, Parent Relations
Sam Schelonka ‘18
Carmen Vazquez, Vice President, Student Affairs
Mandy Womack, Director, Student Organizations and Greek Life
Sonia Zarate, PhD, Director, Office of Undergraduate Research
Jen Zwolinski, PhD, Associate Professor, Psychological Sciences

Each of these taskforces will be charged with assessing our current data and processes, identifying best practices, and creating priority action steps for implementation by next fall.  Once the reports from the taskforces are complete, the Executive Council and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will review them to ensure alignment with the University’s vision. The administration will then take the recommendations and create action steps for implementation.

If you have any suggestions or ideas that you believe will help the taskforces complete their work, please feel free to contact one of the co-chairs.


James THarris III, DEd