A look back at the first Roadmap

Developing the second JHU Roadmap requires an honest assessment of how and where the first JHU Roadmap prompted meaningful change across Johns Hopkins—and where we missed the mark or our momentum stalled.

The initial JHU Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion set out 55 discrete goals arrayed under six priority areas. It laid a vital and comprehensive foundation for sustained progress by articulating the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. It reflected the input of a broad range of stakeholders and established a standard of radical transparency and rigorous accountability, particularly through the endorsement of and regular engagement with our board of trustees, annual progress reports, and the introduction of publicly available composition reports on faculty, staff, and graduate students. And it underscored an expectation of accountability on key initiatives.

Published progress reports on our first Roadmap are available on the web. Some highlights of our collective accomplishments include:

  • The impact of our $25 million commitment to a Faculty Diversity Initiative, aided by the development and adoption of model search practices university-wide. During a period that saw our faculty grow by 14% in professorial faculty and 11% overall since fall 2015, female and faculty from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups grew faster (female representation among faculty increased from 42% to 45%, and  racial/ethnic URG representation grew from 8% to 10%).
  • Substantial divisional investments in DEI expertise and programs, with every school now having at least one DEI professional assigned to work with the dean and key stakeholders to advance school-specific goals and initiatives .
  • The introduction of regular, detailed composition reports for faculty (in 2016, 2019, and 2020), staff (in 2019 and 2020) and graduate students (in 2017 and 2020), all available at https://provost.jhu.edu/reports/, providing key demographic data at the institutional, divisional and departmental levels and allowing for a clear-eyed assessment of our progress in recruiting and retaining diverse cohorts.
  • A permanent shift to need-blind and no-loan admissions, coupled with new on-campus supports for first-generation and limited-income students and students from underrepresented groups (URG), and the implementation of required DEI training and education for undergraduate students through our identity and inclusion program.
  • A dramatic growth in the diversity and academic excellence of our undergraduate body, aided by more than a decade of significant investments in financial aid that saw a substantial increase in the percentage of URG students from racial and ethnic underrepresented groups from 14.9% to 32.5% from 2010 to 2019 and across the entire student body from 25.0% to 27.4% from 2010 to 2019. Our incoming undergraduate class in fall 2021 is composed of 19.3% white, 9.8% Black American, 21.9% Hispanic, 25.6% Asian American students, 6.7% students who identify as two or more races, and 14.6% international students. A significant proportion of multiracial freshman identify as part Black, and, as a result, 15.2% of the incoming class identifies as Black or part Black.
  • An increased focus on the needs of our staff, including tailored career development opportunities, enhanced mentorship and professional development offerings, expanded paid family leave, improved child care supports, college access workshops, and wage increases.
  • Expanded commitments and partnerships to advance economic, educational, and health opportunities for our neighbors and communities through the pathbreaking HopkinsLocal and BLocal economic inclusion programs.

On the other hand, one significant goal from our first Roadmap that we did not achieve was the adoption of a new universitywide diversity statement. Our statement was from 2006 and was widely perceived as outdated and deficient. Other statements, such as the university’s 2006 civility principles, were identified as conflicting with our Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and would be more appropriately addressed within our human resources policies. The initial work to develop a new diversity statement began several years ago, but was interrupted by the departures of both our first chief diversity officer and vice provost for institutional equity in 2019. Following her arrival last year, Dr. Katrina Caldwell, our new Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, and several colleagues restarted the process with a University Diversity Statement Working Group, and this Roadmap now offers a proposed new statement of principles on diversity, equity and inclusion developed with feedback from the community.

Moreover, as the university and its divisions approached five years from the publication of our first Roadmap, and in the context of a national reckoning on race and a global pandemic that exposed persistent racial and economic inequities, it was time to assess our previous efforts and renew and expand our commitments.

2020 Roadmap Task Force

In fall 2020, the university launched the Roadmap Task Force, charged with the task of reviewing our first Roadmap progress and making new recommendations that would undergird our path forward. The task force hosted 28 public listening sessions, and the working groups met 133 times, collectively, while members of university leadership held regular meetings with affinity groups and individuals on Roadmap-related topics, and invited feedback through surveys and email via the Roadmap Task Force website.

The task force ultimately presented 65 recommendations that form the foundation for the university’s next set of robust commitments. In May 2021, the Johns Hopkins community was invited to provide feedback on those recommendations. And through the summer and fall, responsible leaders and university administrations reviewed, prioritized and pulled out themes across the 65, identifying funding needs and resources in order to guide implementation. 

Key takeaways from stakeholder input

With thanks to the members of the Roadmap 2020 Task Force and all those who offered their feedback during this process, below are overarching observations and insights, drawn from an assessment of the first Roadmap, about what is required to drive continued progress:

  • Climate improvement. Stakeholder groups and feedback from our community noted significant steps taken to ensure that URG members of our community feel supported and valued, but campus climate remains a persistent challenge. Future efforts around climate must address the needs of faculty, students and staff; counter negative experiences alumni may have faced as students on campus; and ensure that every person at Johns Hopkins understands their role in, and contribution to, achieving diversity, equity and inclusion. Discussions pointed to an opportunity to engage in strategies that measure and assess climate.
  • Increased focus on ensuring all members of our community are treated equitably. The first Roadmap was sparked by calls from the undergraduate Black Student Union for increased diversity across Johns Hopkins campuses and the recruitment of more faculty of color. Those concerns and the resulting conversations led to a strong focus on recruitment in order to diversify our faculty and student body, but many felt the university also needed to do more to ensure equity across our diverse populations. Specific focus on equitable opportunity must be more deeply and visibly woven into our strategy.
  • An elevated profile for DEI-related activities. Time and again during the Roadmap 2020 Task Force process, people mentioned that they had not known about various institutional efforts, including those that have led to significant progress, such as HopkinsLocal—which fueled the hiring of nearly 1,500 Baltimoreans, shifted more than $113 million in procurement to city vendors, and committed 35.8% of addressable construction spending to local minority-owned, women-owned or disadvantaged contractors. The university must increase the profile and visibility of such efforts, including by aligning them with strategic initiatives at the institutional and divisional levels and promoting them in ways that make them stand out against the din of constant and various campus activities.
  • Sophistication and granularity of available data. Work groups noted that composition data allow only for a point-in-time snapshot, which doesn’t account for various contexts, such as a faculty member’s professional trajectory. Current data also include only racial and ethnic categories; the data do not fully account for Indigenous and Native American or other identities —such as LGBTQ or disability status—or intersections among categories.
  • Need data and accountability to drive change. University leaders had hoped that the unprecedented availability of data in our composition reports would play a key role in driving diversity and related changes at the departmental and programmatic level, where recruitment of faculty and graduate students occurs. While the university and most divisions did see modest but important growth overall, the results are inconsistent and, as the composition reports point out, in some areas there was no progress at all. In this and other areas, we heard time and again that the university and divisions need to do more to ensure there are effective local implementation strategies, supports and follow-through for our universitywide commitments. We must find new ways to foster accountability and commitment for those responsible for progress and change at all levels.
  • Visibility of affinity groups. Efforts across Johns Hopkins have drawn increased attention to underrepresented groups among our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, but some work groups noted that various affinity groups— including Native Americans and other Indigenous people, trans and non-binary individuals, and people with disabilities—are often subsumed within larger “underrepresented” categories. The accomplishments, needs, and interests of these groups should be independently recognized or supported.
  • Recognize and alleviate invisible labor burden of diverse faculty, staff, and leaders. In various ways, faculty, students and staff have expressed the concerns about the burdens placed on individuals who are asked to represent or work on behalf of affinity groups. Often, those individuals serve on numerous committees, bearing a disproportionate share of the burden of this work. As the university and its divisions proceed with strategic planning and implementation of DEI goals, the burden of proposed strategies must not fall unduly on URG or BIPOC faculty, students, staff and neighbors.
  • Tailored action plans that recognize one size does not fit all. As we set goals for the university, we must also recognize the need for tailored, localized approaches to those aims in the divisions and, in some cases, at the departmental level. This may include developing implementation strategies at the divisional and unit levels, or providing central supports to progress where it proves more difficult to achieve.
  • Thought leadership. Johns Hopkins provides leadership in a range of vital academic areas, ranging from biomedical engineering and COVID-19 response, to cybersecurity and education policy. The university must also be willing to step up when it comes to issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, offering proactive responses that will guide our city, state and nation as they consider future policy options.