EDI in action

In May 2020, in the wake of nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, University of Utah leaders reiterated their commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, stating they are making progress in “efforts to make this historically white institution more representative of and responsive to the diverse communities we serve.”

The next month, they shared a plan that highlighted concrete actions they were taking to achieve their goal of becoming “an anti-racist 21st-century campus grounded in equity and inclusion.” One of those actions was the establishment of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Executive Committee.

Comprised of 20 faculty and administrative thought-leaders from across campus, the committee was asked to examine institutional policies and practices that perpetuate racism, bias and systemic inequity in the recruitment, hiring and advancement of staff and faculty. Six subject matter experts (SMEs) are also helping provide guidance to subcommittees.

“President Ruth Watkins asked us to focus on identifying policies that perpetuate racism and white privilege and recommend potential changes,” said Wendy Peterson, deputy chief human resources officer and EDI Executive Committee co-chair. “We divided up into four subcommittees to look at whether a policy needs to be revised, a new policy needs to be created or if a policy should be eliminated in that area.”

The four focus areas include:

  • Racial and bias-based trauma
  • EDI pedagogical development for university instructors
  • Supporting affinity groups
  • Targeted staff recruiting to increase diversity outreach

The committee is preparing to submit its initial findings and recommendations to the President’s Cabinet in late January 2021. Its work will inform hiring and retention initiatives and other actions that will build on previous diversity hiring efforts at the U.

“It has been an encouraging process so far to work with several incredible members of our campus community who are passionate and committed to this project.” said Jason Burrow-Sánchez, presidential leadership fellow, faculty member and EDI Executive Committee co-chair. “We look forward to sharing their recommendations and are honored to be part of creating inclusive and anti-racist policies at the U.”

Once the President’s Cabinet has reviewed and approved the recommendations, they will be published at diversity.utah.edu.

EDI Executive Committee Members

Committee Support

Jason Burrow-Sánchez, co-chair, presidential leadership fellow and faculty
Wendy Peterson, co-chair, deputy chief human resources officer
Michele Ballantyne, legal counsel, Office of General Counsel
Janine Murphy, Office of the President

Subcommittee 1 – Racial and bias-based trauma

Karen Paisley, subcommittee lead, associate dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs, College of Health and NCAA faculty athletics representative
Kaitlin McLean, graduate student, School of Medicine
Yordanos “Jojo” Beyene, academic advisor, College of Health and Black Faculty and Staff Association
Mark Winter, associate vice president for Budget and Finance
Sarah Sherer, SME guest, chief human resources officer, University of Utah Health
Wendy Poppleton, SME guest, human resources director, Human Resources Management

Subcommittee 2 – EDI pedagogical development for university instructors

Dale Larsen, subcommittee lead, librarian, J. Willard Marriott Library and Academic Senate liaison
Michelle Valdes, vice president of student relations, Associated Students of the University of Utah
Stacy Ackerlind, special assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs, interim associate vice president for Health and Wellness
Willard Dere, professor, School of Medicine
Elizabeth Bond Rogers, SME guest, J. Willard Marriott Library associate instructor of Inclusive Excellence

Subcommittee 3 – Supporting affinity groups

Mauricio “Mo” Laguan, subcommittee lead, program manager, Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Dhiraj Chand, senior director, Leadership and Principal Giving, office of the vice president for Institutional Advancement
Libby Mitchell, managing editor of @theU, University Marketing and Communications
Debora Brito De Andrade, undergraduate student, College of Social and Behavioral Science
Andrea Brown-Christensen, SME guest, senior human resources director, Human Resources Management

Subcommittee 4 – Targeted staff recruiting to increase diversity outreach

Myra Washington, subcommittee lead, assistant vice president for faculty equity and diversity
José Rodríguez, associate vice president for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Erin Rothwell, associate vice president for Research Integrity, Office of the vice president for Research
Aerin Washington, director of Campus Security, Office of the Chief Safety Officer
Dani Baum, SME guest, human resources manager, Human Resources Management
Sherrie Hayashi, SME guest, director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
Rachel Aho, SME guest, director of housing, Housing and Residential Education