Update on diversity and inclusion

Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff:

Over the past academic year, we announced several significant initiatives related to the diversity of our university, and committed to keeping you apprised of our work. We understand that to make progress in this arena will require sustained, dedicated effort. Our attention to diversity, equal opportunity, and inclusion cannot be halting or episodic. It is important for us to have clear strategies and goals that guide our efforts, but the ultimate test for progress will be concrete actions and our demonstration of changes in outcomes—a more diverse faculty and student body; greater opportunities for our staff to secure professional advancement; and a more dynamic intellectual environment that fosters difficult, challenging conversations in a respectful and civil manner. These changes will take time and collective effort.

To share some of the recent progress on campus:

Completion of the JHU Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion. The draft JHU Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion is on track for completion this fall and has been strengthened immeasurably by your feedback, gathered through discussions, meetings, and emails with faculty, academic councils, students, student organizations, fellows, diversity councils, alumni, affinity groups, staff members, and trustees. The final document will include a summary of the feedback we’ve received, as well as a detailed report on our progress against commitments and a number of new ideas from our community. We welcome your continued input on the website or by emailing diversityroadmap@jhu.edu.

I can’t emphasize enough how important this undertaking is to our diversity efforts. Once endorsed by the university’s Board of Trustees, the Roadmap will stand as the cornerstone document of our diversity program. Its priorities, strategies, and reporting requirements will serve as key accountability mechanisms for all of us, ensuring that our attention to the important issues at its core is subject to sustained focus and vigilant monitoring by the university’s leadership and trustees.

New Diversity Leaders. This summer we created a new stand-alone position of vice provost and chief diversity officer to help drive and elevate our diversity initiatives over the long term. James Page, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Johns Hopkins Medicine, has agreed to serve in this role on an interim basis as we conduct a national search, and he will be a critical partner for this new university leader once he or she is appointed. In addition, Homewood Student Affairs recently welcomed Dr. Jamie Riley as our first associate dean of diversity and inclusion, recruiting him to Baltimore from the University of California, Berkeley.

Diversity Events and Offerings. Efforts are underway across our schools to offer students, faculty, and staff a growing selection of timely and meaningful programming related to diversity. These events include the “Violence Against LGBTQ Populations: The Public Health Response” symposium, held earlier this week at the Bloomberg School; the Sept. 27 Forum on Race in America at Shriver Hall discussing racial justice and local organizing; the annual conference of the JHU Diversity Leadership Council on Oct. 21; and many others. For details on these and other new events, or to post an event of your own, go to the university calendar.

Progress on the Faculty Diversity Initiative. Several elements of the Faculty Diversity Initiative launched last fall have begun to show early success. Each of our nine schools has prepared a faculty diversity action plan and adopted new protocols for faculty searches; the Target of Opportunity fund has supported the hiring of 10 underrepresented minority (URM) tenured and tenure-track faculty in this academic year; the Visiting Professor fund has facilitated campus engagements by five diverse scholars; and universitywide we have hired 38 URM faculty who will join Johns Hopkins during the 2016-17 academic year. Last spring, we honored Lisa A. Cooper, the James F. Fries Professor of Medicine at the School of Medicine, with our first Provost’s Prize for Faculty Excellence in Diversity, and over the summer, we awarded eight one-year fellowships to outstanding, diverse scholars through the Provost’s Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

Release of the JHU Report on Faculty Composition. To increase transparency and hold ourselves accountable to the aims of the Faculty Diversity Initiative, we will next week publish our first biennial report detailing the diversity of our faculty down to the department level. Between January and March, we completed a universitywide validation of full-time faculty data, followed by a thorough assessment of demographic information from all schools, departments, and academic units. We are pleased to stand among a relatively small number of top private universities in this country to provide these data at the department level. We regard this document as an important way to subject our work to exacting scrutiny, ensuring that we honor our foundational commitment to equal opportunity and to the recruitment of the best and brightest faculty regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Expanded Undergraduate Training. For first-year students on the Homewood campus, orientation included expanded discussions of critical aspects of diversity, inclusion, and what it means to be part of our community. Additionally, in response to student feedback about our campus climate, between November and March every first-year student will attend a two-hour interactive workshop called “Identity and Inclusion at Hopkins.”

These are just a few highlights of the work underway to strengthen our university; there is a great deal more to do in the months and years ahead, and we will soon begin posting updates to a new website. I am especially encouraged by our schools’ commitment to the goals of the Faculty Diversity Initiative, by our students’ continued thoughtful engagement with the issues confronting our university and our society, and by our university’s unwavering dedication to open, frank, and vigorous debate.

The efforts to sustain a diverse and inclusive community at Johns Hopkins depend on each of us—how we handle everyday interactions on campus; how we teach or learn as our own ideas are tested; how we listen to each other. Each of us must play our part in addressing needs and disparities on our campuses, within our city, and beyond.

Thank you for continuing to participate in this critical work.

Ronald J. Daniels