National protests over racial injustice have exposed long-standing and too often ignored issues of inequity both on campuses and in communities. A paradigm shift in how higher education institutions directly address issues of race and equity has begun.
Boards are uniquely positioned to enact the substantive changes students, stakeholders, and communities are demanding; they are also accountable for ensuring their institutions support the success and safety of students, faculty, and staff equitability. The principles of justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (JDE&I) can inform discussion inside the boardroom and throughout the campus community.
A board commitment to JDE&I should include all aspects of activities from investment decisions to budgets to academic programs. Boards need to engage collaboratively with their institutions to study and address their history, including ties to slavery, discrimination, and racism. They also need to evaluate the current climate regarding JDE&I on campus, assess inequities, establish goals, determine metrics to measure progress, and provide needed resources. The board can, through policies, strategic priorities, oversight, and declarations, advance the goals of social and racial justice and the missions of their institutions.