Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative

Image of large classroom full of students

The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2021 outlines Mount Holyoke’s collective commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and calls upon the MHC community to develop a distinctive plan that will deliver on that priority.

The diversity of our campus is a mark of distinction and a source of pride. Mount Holyoke’s success in this area is due to the contributions of many, including committees and commissions, as well as the sustained effort and focused energy of faculty, staff and students who have led this work. And yet we are not satisfied with these achievements — there is still work to be done to make our campus inclusive and to support its diversity as well as to represent it in the ways and to the extent that it is valued in our community.

It is important that our entire community be engaged at all levels and that we move expeditiously towards action that will cultivate the environment in which we aspire to do our work together. Our new endeavor is not about replicating the good work we have already done but about further actionable and accountable implementation. It is time to commit new resources to develop an infrastructure that represents and supports our campus culture. Faculty, staff and students must now come together to learn from each other; strengthen mutual respect; support diversity, equity and inclusion; and share leadership and accountability for the results.

To this end, Acting President Sonya Stephens charged Rene Davis, in her special projects role in the Office of the President, and Kathleen Pertzborn, chief of staff in the Office of the President, to work with a steering committee of faculty, staff and students to spearhead a new initiative focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. This endeavor will have three distinct phases.

Phase one

In November 2016, we started the first phase with the help of partners at the Collaborations Group, experts in the diversity field. We began a conversation across a number of energetic groups and colleagues to explore possibilities for new avenues of progress. We drew some early conclusions that while there is a high level of interest and activity, most often the work is pursued with limited resources and too little sharing of knowledge or information. As a result, the significant effort these individual activities represent has not led to the kind of systemic and sustainable results to which we aspire and which we expect of ourselves. The exploration stage also recognized that not all members of our community have had the same opportunities or the same exposure to educational and professional development on questions of race, ethnicity, gender, class, ability, and religious and cultural difference — though many are eager for these opportunities and conversations.

Phase two

The second phase brought the full community together for a learning conference. Classes and other scheduled activities were canceled on Monday, March 27, 2017 in order for students, faculty and staff to participate. This was not a day off, but rather a day on, spent addressing how we can best work together as a community. The conference included a keynote speaker, workshops, film screenings, discussion sessions, multicultural events and food.


Building On Our Momentum

Boom Learning Conference logo
Our diversity shines brightest when we bring our full selves together as one community. BOOM: Building On Our Momentum was a moment where we came together as one community to think deeply and collectively about how we engage with one another. We held a multi-faceted, two-day event that brought students, faculty and staff together to experience and engage around the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Phase three

The events of March 26–27 will lead to the third phase, in which we will come up with concrete recommendations for enduring change that will be presented to the community and the Board of Trustees and then developed into a clear plan of action prior to the start of the 2017–2018 academic year.

DEI Initiative Steering Committee

Aime DeGrenier, Library, Information and Technology Services (LITS)
Latrina Denson, Student Life
Amber Douglas, Student Success and Advising
Heidi Friedman, Human Resources
Kirina Gair-Macmichael '18, Student Representative
Camille Gladieux '18, SGA President
Marcella Runell Hall, Student Life
Emet Marwell '18, Student Representative
Dorothy Mosby, Dean of Faculty, Co-Chair DEI initiative
Kathleen Pertzborn, President’s Office, Co-Chair DEI initiative
Derrick Redd, Athletics
Jonencia Wood, Alumnae Association