Why this is important.

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.

Questions for boards.

These are key questions for your board to consider:

Policies

Consequential Questions:

  1. Does your current mission statement reflect your institutional commitment to JDE&I?
  2. Has the board conducted a policy audit to assess relevance and impact of key policies on different campus populations?
  3. What JDE&I policies and practices have your board and campus leaders successfully enacted? Which ones were unsuccessful?

Data

Consequential Questions:

  1. Does the board receive data on students, faculty, and personnel on key performance indicators disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and gender that allow the board to understand and assess equity?
  2. Does the board have clear goals and benchmarks in place for measuring JDE&I? Does this include baseline campus climate measures?

Strategic Priorities

Consequential Questions:

  1. Do you have in place an academic program review related to JDE&I? Have you linked inclusion and quality in these assessments?
  2. Have the board and administration examined the history of the institution in terms of JDE&I and ties to slavery, racism, or discrimination in admissions and personnel practices; personal and professional lives of founders, leaders, and donors; and those people and events for whom buildings and memorials are named?
  3. Have the board and administration reviewed the physical growth and presence of the institution in its community to assess its impact on communities of color or disenfranchised communities?
  4. How diverse is your board? What perspectives are missing from the table and how can the board be more inclusive? How are potential new board members identified?
  5. Has the board conducted a skills and perspective gap analysis of its members based on strategic planning and JDE&I?
  6. Are your students able to equitably access all opportunities your institution has to offer?
  7. Has the board made the elimination of gaps in student success by race and gender a priority and committed adequate resources to this goal?
  8. Has the board reviewed its investments and investment managers from an ESG/JDE&I perspective?

We carefully curated these staff-picked resources for you:

All resources.