Since Drake's establishment, various initiatives have set the stage for current Equity and Inclusion work. These initiatives set the baseline for future growth.
In 2013 Drake began the process for institutional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) six years ago, we had the opportunity to select a "Quality Initiative" - an issue or challenge to which we would commit significant resources. The HLC required the challenge to be relatively high risk, and if successfully addressed, one that would be transformational to the institution. As a campus, we selected the overarching challenge of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In 2014-15, the Quality Initiative selection led to a yearlong inclusive process for assessing Campus Climate, guided by nationally known scholar Sue Rankin. Dr. Rankin has a strong reputation for addressing issues of equity and inclusion in higher education. The survey was carefully crafted to explore how students, faculty and staff experienced the climate at Drake. Climate on a college campus refers to the ways in which individuals and groups experience membership in the campus community—in other words, we asked individuals what it was like to be at Drake. A team of more than 20 faculty, staff, and students deployed the survey, and engaged in a process of town halls and focus groups to assess, evaluate, analyze, and report out on the Campus Climate Survey.
The assessment included a three phases, including, conducting focus groups to create the survey, administration of the campus wide survey, and a series of town-halls and discussion groups to develop next steps based on the data that was collected.
Drake University community members completed 2,159 surveys for an overall response rate of 36%. Response rates by constituent group varied: 38% (n = 1,129) for Undergraduate Students, 22% (n = 396) for Graduate/Professional Students, 51% (n = 376) for Staff and Administrators, and 58% (n = 258) for Faculty.
The survey revealed that 80% (n =1,722) of the survey respondents were “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with the climate at Drake, and 91% (n = 1,317) of student respondents reported that many of their courses were intellectually stimulating. However, the survey also revealed that 20% (n = 420) of respondents believed that they personally had experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive, and/or hostile conduct. The findings of the study were consistent with those found in higher education institutions across the country, based on the work of Rankin & Associates Consulting.
To explore more of the findings of the 2015 Climate assessment, please visit our secured website.
In Spring 2014, the Strategic Diversity Action Team (SDAT) was formed to implement the Quality Initiative projects for accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission. SDAT assisted with outreach for the Campus Climate Survey, encouraged community participation in the Next Steps Forums, and facilitated several initiatives. The team also made recommendations to President’s Council, which took immediate action to - develop a campus statement of diversity, allocate resources to the creation of a senior level position with the charge of developing infrastructure to improve equity and inclusion and renovate the student houses on 28th Street.
The Working Group for the Infusion of Global & Multicultural Understanding (WGIGMU) was formed in Fall 2010 by former Provost Ron Troyer, who sent four faculty from different disciplines (Law, Politics & Society, Public Administration, Education and English) and Vice Provost for Student Affairs & Academic Success to a conference to explore how to ensure Drake continued to focus on domestic diversity alongside Drake's increasing development of efforts focused on internationalization.
Their main activities included conducting focus groups with various members of the Drake community, informal meetings to discuss challenges and potential opportunities regarding global and multicultural understandings, and collaborating with other entities on campus and in the Des Moines community to provide opportunities for cross-cultural and intercultural dialogue about the current status of and our aspirations for global and multicultural understanding at Drake. In fall 2013 WGIGMU facilitated bringing Michele Norris’, National Public Radio (NPR) host, and “The Race Card Project” to campus. The Race Card Project encourages people to share their thoughts about race, ethnicity and cultural identity. The event was free and open to the public.