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.

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 a steering committee of faculty, staff and students to spearhead a new initiative focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

The DEI Steering Committee's Charter:

  1. The DEI Steering Committee will be a thought-partner to foster open and transparent communication with College senior leadership, working to promote and make progress on strategic priorities related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  2. The DEI Steering Committee will promote connections and alignment of needs, priorities and goals of students, staff and faculty across campus, stressing the importance of, and the College’s collective commitment to, this work.
  3. We will be accountable to each other, and to the community, to carry out the charge our stakeholders have given us to realize the vision of the DEI Initiative and make good on our promises.
  4. We will engage in the national conversation of diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education and share our expertise of ours as a model of inclusive excellence for our peers and other institutions of higher education disseminating knowledge gained from our collaborative work on campus.

Complete!- Phase one

In November 2016, we started the first phase of the DEI initiative 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.

Complete!- 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
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.

In Progress- Phase three

The Boom! Conference led to the third phase, that began in Summer 2017, in which we will come up with concrete recommendations for enduring change. The DEI Steering Committee is collaborating with the Office of Institutional Research to publish a diversity dashboard with demographics and climate data, and establish benchmarks by which we will measure the diversity and inclusivity of our community (expected late November 2017). The DEI Steering Committee will also participate in a retreat with the senior leadership of the College in Fall 2017, to kick off the action planning process.  The feedback from the Boom! Conference, as well as DEI plans from each division, will be developed into a clear plan of action, created by the whole community, in Spring 2018. More information about the DEI Action Plan process will be available soon.

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

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.