The JHU Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion articulates our institutional commitment to the equal dignity and worth of all persons. This commitment, expressed in several key institutional documents over time, including the university’s Ten by Twenty, requires us to seek broad diversity within our community and to cultivate an environment that allows each member of our community to feel valued, engaged, and empowered to succeed.
This Roadmap sets out a wide range of initiatives to achieve that goal. Our ultimate success depends not on any single project but on a sustained and systemic effort across our strategic priorities to achieve greater diversity of membership in the JHU community, improve opportunity for JHU community members of all backgrounds, enable robust engagement with diverse viewpoints, and foster a climate of respect.
Our aims are also informed by extensive feedback collected from our community through meetings and emails after the publication of the draft Roadmap. While many respondents applauded the university’s effort or the values captured in the document, others questioned the need for this effort or expressed doubt over the extent of our conviction, given the mixed success of previous efforts in this arena. Among the common threads that emerged in feedback were a desire to focus not just on the recruitment of diverse faculty, students, and staff but also on their retention and development, and a consensus that we must be clear in our aims and accountable to our community.
The idea of the Roadmap is not only to articulate our values and principles or to acknowledge a complex and tarnished history but to drive the work—to break the cycle of disconnect between aspiration and substantive change through a specific and systemic approach. Mindful that it captures only a point in time, the Roadmap is built around specific action items across every key area of university work and life. A summary of the main sections of the document follows.
Restatement of Principles
Several of the university’s key statements of principle implicate issues of equity. The university plans to reassess these statements and express a renewed commitment around diversity, equity, and inclusion, articulating these fundamental values, why they matter, and how they are woven into our mission. A core team of leaders has begun work on the updated statement and, with support from an advisory committee and broad community input, will produce a new draft for board of trustee endorsement in spring 2017.
Diversity of people and thought is necessary for the university to fulfill its mission of critical inquiry and discovery. We aim to locate, attract, and retain the best and most talented faculty, representing a broad array of backgrounds, thought, and experience. But over 50 years, despite purposeful efforts such as the Mosaic Initiative, our progress has been limited, driven largely by individual faculty leaders. In 2015, we launched the Faculty Diversity Initiative (FDI), a $25 million comprehensive effort to reorient faculty search and hiring practices, ensuring searches stretch beyond our customary networks; and to fund efforts that support and sustain a more diverse faculty community. While many disciplines face a narrow pipeline of candidates from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, we are hopeful the FDI will broaden the pathways through which top candidates are discovered. An increased focus on faculty mentoring will also support the aims of the FDI. Finally, reporting and accountability requirements, key tenets of this effort, represent a departure from previous faculty diversity efforts. In the first year of the FDI, the university produced a report summarizing the diversity of our faculty at the divisional and departmental level, and committed to providing biennial progress reports. It also called together all university department chairs to discuss this effort and best practices around diversity.
Following a concerted effort to strengthen the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities (URM), first-generation students, and other diverse groups within our student population, the university has seen significant gains in undergraduate student diversity and URM student achievement. In recent years, we have seen noteworthy—but inconsistent—improvements in the six-year degree completion rates for URM students.
Among the programs bolstering our student support are those focused on mentoring and engagement, such as MAPP, JUMP, and Hop-In. On the Homewood campus, a 2016 restructuring brought together several key offices (Multicultural Affairs, LGBTQ Life, Gender Equity, Campus Ministries) under the Homewood Centers for Community, Diversity and Inclusion to support the many facets of diversity, intersecting identities, and inclusion. The university is also continuing to enhance the training required for first-year undergraduates and the students who work most closely with them. Finally, the university is working to eliminate barriers to participation by minority students in research and other experiences outside the classroom and to increase their interest in and capacity for professional and graduate study.
For graduate students, trainees, and postdoctoral scholars, the university recognizes its role in building a more diverse pipeline of academic talent that will shape the future of higher education, and has invested in recruitment and retention initiatives to boost the enrollment and support of graduate students, trainees, and postdocs from traditionally underrepresented groups. As funding is a particular challenge for graduate students, we are continuing to reduce financial barriers to achievement, expanding scholarship pools and funding opportunities for those affiliated with underrepresented minority groups. As they find their intellectual home at Johns Hopkins, our graduate students, trainees, and postdocs need a community in which they can thrive while developing the skills and contacts necessary for the next steps in their careers. We are workingto provide campus resources that will support professional and academic pursuits.
Building a diverse community of staff is essential to our research, teaching, patient care, and service missions and fundamental to our belief in equity of opportunity. Since fall 2010, the percentages of URMs have increased at all levels of our staff, but more work is needed to improve recruitment, retention, and career development. The university is working closely with the Johns Hopkins Health System to expand programs and partnerships that draw entry-level talent and broaden community outreach in Baltimore, and we are launching an initiative to adopt best practices in diverse hiring and recruiting at every level.
Current career development opportunities include programs such as the Research Administration Training Program, which is intentional in its recruitment of women and underrepresented minorities, and the Diversity Mentor Program, a newer initiative that we are working to improve and expand beyond University Administration Finance. In response to our employees’ requests and concerns, we have overhauled several aspects of our benefits program, including by providing more equitable health care and marriage/domestic partner benefits. Finally, we are strengthening our offerings for health, wellness, and family support, and enhancing the training of our staff and managers so that they are better equipped to recruit and support the development of a diverse workforce.
With nine academic divisions encompassing a broad scope of disciplines and scholarly activities, our university offers dynamic academic programs that expose students to a wide range of human experience and perspectives in a comprehensive and rigorous manner. The undergraduate curriculum has neither a single required course nor any required competency for diversity. However, a review by the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) of nearly 15,000 courses and sections offered over seven years showed that approximately 60 percent of undergraduates from KSAS and 25 percent from the Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) took at least one course that dealt with issues of gender, sexuality, religion, race, or ethnicity.
One key step we are taking in this area is the launch, in spring 2017, of the second Commission on Undergraduate Education (CUE2). The commission will be asked to assess the current state of undergraduate life at Johns Hopkins and to provide recommendations on, among other topics, how best to prepare students to understand and navigate an increasingly complex and multicultural world. A second step that is now under way is a comprehensive review of centers and programs in KSAS, including the Center for Africana Studies, to consider how best to strengthen their role and presence.
Climate, Culture, and Community
Building an inclusive community requires fostering an environment that values diversity and demonstrates inclusion; facilitating activities that promote engagement with a diverse spectrum of people and views; equipping our faculty, students, and staff to engage thoughtfully and respectfully with each other; and providing the resources necessary to handle incidents related to bias, harassment, and discrimination—all in a setting that commands scrupulous fidelity to our commitment to academic freedom.
We are providing programs that are aimed at reducing conscious and unconscious bias, preventing discrimination and harassment, and helping manage issues related to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We also are expanding campus programs and enrichment opportunities that explore issues of race and culture to educate and challenge our community. Examples of these opportunities include the ongoing JHU Forums on Race in America lecture series, which launched in 2015, and a fall 2016 Bloomberg School of Public Health (BSPH) symposium titled Violence Against LGBTQ Populations: The Public Health Response. On a local level, our divisions have created new ways to advance related conversations. Johns Hopkins Medicine hosted dozens of community forums after the unrest in Baltimore in spring 2015, for example, and the Homewood schools appointed an associate dean for diversity and inclusion in 2016.
Recognizing that legacies of our past continue to shape our present interactions, we also are focused on deepening our collective understanding of the history of our university, including through the multifaceted Hopkins Retrospective, which among other initiatives, helped create signage exploring the history of slavery on the land that became the Homewood campus. Also, our alumni community is purposefully strengthening relationships with diverse alumni populations.
As our community is not immune from instances of serious prejudice and bigotry, we are also ensuring the availability of responsive channels through which to file complaints and seek action, intervention, or support in a manner that is appropriately attentive to the university’s commitment to academic freedom and open debate. To advance this expansive work, we will form a universitywide workgroup to assess and recommend cultural competency programs, launch a diversity council for the Homewood campus (adding to seven other divisional diversity councils), and offer new websites focused on diversity and inclusion, institutional equity, and accessibility for those with disabilities.
Engaging with Baltimore
The relationship between Johns Hopkins and Baltimore has not been uncomplicated. But over the past several years, our commitments and partnerships with organizations across the city have grown deeper and more robust. In a diverse city that grapples with issues of racial and economic disparities, we, as an anchor institution, must find ways to be more inclusive and representative of the communities around us.
HopkinsLocal, the economic inclusion initiative we launched in 2015, has developed a set of specific, measurable commitments to increase our local hiring, purchasing, and contracting, expanding the opportunities available to Baltimore’s residents and its minority- and women-owned businesses. These commitments represent not a project-by-project shift in approach but a systematic change across the institution. This effort also sparked significant interest among other Baltimore businesses looking to amplify the impact of that work, including those led by members of our board of trustees. In spring 2016, we launched BLocal through which we and 24 other partners agreed to an incremental three-year investment of at least $69 million into Baltimore’s economy.
In addition, Johns Hopkins’ support of the East Baltimore Development Initiative (EBDI)—now Eager Park—and the Homewood Community Partners Initiative (HCPI) has included significant financial investments, leadership commitment, and creative approaches to key elements such as housing creation and retail development. We have also intensified our work with several local schools, including the Henderson-Hopkins School, Barclay Elementary/Middle School, and the newly launched P-TECH at Dunbar High School. And we have supported key faculty initiatives that bolster the success of the city and its residents, from a data-driven violence prevention program with police, to the meaningful community partnerships forged through the Urban Health Institute. As we continue to advance these efforts, we will also work to provide transparency around our progress, regularly reporting out on efforts such as economic inclusion.
By clearly identifying our objectives, the Roadmap itself will help our community hold us accountable to our commitments in the months and years ahead. We will also employ a variety of mechanisms for accountability—surveys, data, periodic reports, and opportunities for community input—to quantify or redirect our work. Finally, and critically, this document was presented to the university’s board of trustees for endorsement, ensuring that current commitments are embedded in the strategic priorities of the institution.