Moving Forward: Conversations on Racial and Ethnic Diversity


Campus Climate Progress Report Fall 2016

In March, Chancellor Blank announced several initiatives aimed at ensuring UW-Madison provides a welcoming environment that enables all students, faculty and staff to thrive. These efforts build on work begun through the campus Diversity Framework and its implementation plan, R.E.E.L. Change.

The events of the past year alone demonstrate the urgent need for our next generation of leaders to be equipped with the skills to build stronger, more interconnected communities within our state, nation and world. Helping students live and work effectively in a diverse community is a central part of our educational mission.

Since spring, individuals and groups from across campus have embraced this challenge and devoted significant time and energy to moving the campus forward. We’re excited to share the progress we’re making on these projects. Download a pdf of this report.

Educational experiences and resources for students

  • Incoming students
    A new community-building program, Our Wisconsin, will bring together up to 1,000 new students from several residence halls this fall to engage in constructive dialogue about social identities, difference, and techniques to resolve conflict in a civil manner. We will evaluate the results of this pilot program, implement improvements, and expand the program next year.

  • Pre-arrival materials
    All incoming freshmen received a weekly email over the summer with a reading or video about issues related to inclusion and community; new student orientation (SOAR) offered an expanded curriculum around inclusion and diversity.

  • Black Cultural Center
    The university is creating a Black Cultural Center in the Red Gym, a location that allows for natural connections and synergy with the Multicultural Student Center. A committee of student leaders, staff and faculty will spend time this fall planning the use of the space and programming for the coming year.

  • Teaching assistants
    Inclusivity and diversity are major themes in TA training this year, including panel discussions and scenarios that address those issues directly. The College of Letters & Science is also developing a community of practice for faculty and staff who train and supervise TAs and the first theme will be helping TAs understand these issues.

  • International students
    In addition to ongoing efforts to welcome and orient international students, we will pilot a new opportunity for students to discuss cultural understanding, share experiences, ask questions in a supportive environment, and learn about inclusivity and other campus values.

  • Increase capacity of high-demand Ethnic Studies courses
    The College of Letters & Science is increasing capacity in high demand Ethnic Studies courses to meet the needs of the student body. Faculty from multiple ethnic studies departments are working across disciplines to co-create a new course to be launched next year.

  • Review Ethnic Studies requirements
    The College of Letters & Science is reviewing all courses in the Ethnic Studies curriculum to ensure they fit the mission of the Ethnic Studies requirement.

Resources for faculty and staff

  • Professional development
    Chancellor Blank has asked all units to engage their faculty and staff in some form of inclusion and diversity dialogue and training during this academic year. This responds to resolutions passed in the spring by shared governance groups calling for comprehensive professional development on these topics. Many units are already deeply engaged in an array of campus programs and organized dialogues, and additional options will be offered.

  • Faculty resources for classroom conversations
    The School of Education is developing resources and training opportunities to support faculty in leading high-quality classroom discussions on diversity and inclusion.

  • Campus leadership training
    Chancellor Blank and members of her leadership team took part in a day-long workshop on diversity and inclusion in August.

Proposals to improve campus climate
The campus responded to Chancellor Blank’s call for ideas in March with more than 100 proposals. A committee of campus and community representatives has recommended several for immediate action.

  • House Fellow skill building
    House Fellows frequently serve as frontline responders who help students acclimate to campus life, resolve conflicts and foster connections with one another. A proposal submitted by the Department of Counseling Psychology helped spur a new partnership between that department and the University Housing, in which training will be provided to House Fellows to build their capacity to navigate difficult conversations between students and expand their conflict resolution skills.

  • Mental health support
    University Health Services is expanding its services by hiring three new staff members to focus on campus outreach, particularly to under-served student groups, and another who specializes in the needs of students of color. This is the first step in a multi-year process to expand UHS mental health staffing.

  • Expand Learning Communities for Institutional Change and Excellence (LCICE)
    New staff will be added to this program, which convenes learning communities across campus that promote education and dialogue about cultural identities. This will be a resource for units, schools and departments across campus to expand their programming. It will also allow LCICE to partner with Undergraduate Advising to expand intercultural learning among key staff who support students of color.

  • Create faculty liaisons to develop instructional materials
    Many proposals suggested ways to weave diversity and inclusion topics into coursework, where much of student learning occurs. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement will identify faculty liaisons across disciplines and support them in developing content and strategies to incorporate these topics into the work, instruction and scholarship of their disciplines.

  • Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute bias literacy workshops
    WISELI is preparing to offer 3-hour workshops to campus departments about unconscious bias, covering race/ethnicity, gender, LGBT and disability issues. Pilots will occur this fall and be made available to a broader set of departments in the spring and in 2017-18. Faculty and staff who complete the general 3-hour workshop will be eligible to participate in future 1-hour special topics workshops on more specific issues, such as “reducing bias in classroom teaching” and “new implicit bias literature.”

Information gathering/sharing

  • Chancellor’s community advisory committee
    Chancellor Blank will seek insight from and share information with a diverse group of community leaders that will begin meeting in September.

  • Campus climate survey
    An online survey this academic year will assess students’ experiences with campus climate and awareness of policies and resources.

  • Raising awareness about bias incident resources, policies and response
    Actions to date include holding a campus-wide forum this past April, producing a video and offering workshops to units/departments across campus. So far 18 workshops have been provided to 550 participants. A new website is being developed and will launch in the fall.

Framework Informational Sessions

There are no meetings scheduled at this time.


Patrick Sims

Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate

Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement

Ruby Paredes

Assistant Vice Chancellor and Interim Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate

Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement