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Diversity Team Report

On February 21, 2017, President Ryken publically released the final report from the Diversity Review Team. In 2016, Vice President for Student Development Paul Chelsen and President Ryken appointed a Diversity Review Team (DRT) to “assess the College’s performance when measured against its publicly stated vision” for deepening ethnic diversity and to “develop concrete recommendations as a result of what has been learned through the assessment.”

The team was chaired by Dr. John Nunes, President of Concordia College (New York), and also included Pam Barger (Intercultural Studies, Wheaton College), Lawrence Burnley (VP for Diversity & Inclusion, University of Dayton), Ezer Kang (Psychology, Howard University), Al Nieves (Sociology, Wheaton College, Emeritus), and Elizabeth Ortiz (VP for Diversity and Equality, DePaul University).

The DRT visited campus for several days in April, 2016 and hosted focus group interviews with nearly 200 faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Team members were also given access to extensive data and comprehensive reports from the previous decade.

In its final report, which was received on February 2, 2017 the DRT made as its primary recommendation the launch of a hiring process for a Chief Diversity Officer.

The DRT further recommended that Wheaton increase efforts to strategically and intentionally recruit people of color to serve on SAC; encourage SAC to learn more about how its racial identity and cultural values shape institutional identity and practice; arrange intentional interactions between members of the Board of Trustees and faculty, staff, and alumni of color to address a spirit of suspicion that leaders are misinformed about matters of racial diversity; and multiply programs that foster cultural immersion and experiential learning, such as HNGR, BRIDGE, and Wheaton in Chicago.

The report mainly consists of verbatim comments from members of the campus community—comments that serve to describe our campus diversity environment with respect to institutional identity and practice. The report also expresses the hope that the College will be able to “engender the sense of trust and transparency which is contributive and additive in continuing to create a healthy, Christ-centered diversity.”

Below, the College’s progress since February, 2017 is noted. However, the College also acknowledges there is much work still to do.

  1. In May, 2017, members of the Board of Trustees met with faculty and staff of color. 

  2. In the summer of 2017, members of SAC read and discussed Roadmap to Reconciliation, by Brenda Salter McNeil

  3. In April, 2018, Mr. Silvio Vazquez started as the College’s first Chief Enrollment Management Officer and the first Latino member of the Senior Administrative Cabinet.

  4. In June, 2018, Dr. Sheila Caldwell begins her work at Wheaton College as the first Chief Intercultural Engagement Officer and the first African American women serving on the Senior Administrative Cabinet.

  5. Wheaton in Chicago relocated to Woodlawn in August, 2017, which provides additional space for larger student enrollment. Wheaton in Chicago is also offering a new spring semester program beginning in January of 2019; only a fall program was being offered previously.

  6. Discussions are under way to expand the integration of culturally diverse experiential learning opportunities in the curriculum through greater collaboration between the Center for Urban Engagement and the Office of Christian Outreach.

The following report is for the members of the Wheaton College community and is not intended for general dissemination.

Diversity Team Report

Last year Vice President Paul Chelsen and I appointed a Diversity Review Team (DRT) to “assess the College’s performance when measured against its publicly stated vision” for deepening ethnic diversity and to “develop concrete recommendations as a result of what has been learned through the assessment.”

The team was chaired by Dr. John Nunes, who now serves as President of Concordia College (New York), and also included Pam Barger (Intercultural Studies, Wheaton College), Lawrence Burnley (VP for Diversity & Inclusion, University of Dayton), Ezer Kang (Psychology, Howard University), Al Nieves (Sociology, Wheaton College, Emeritus), and Elizabeth Ortiz (VP for Diversity and Equality, DePaul University).

The DRT visited campus for several days last April and hosted focus group interviews with nearly 200 faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Team members were also given access to extensive data and comprehensive reports from the last decade.

In its final report, which was received on February 2, the DRT made as its primary recommendation the launch of a hiring process for a Chief Diversity Officer who they advise will report to the President and serve on the Senior Administrative Cabinet (SAC).

The DRT further recommended that Wheaton increase efforts to strategically and intentionally recruit people of color to serve on SAC; encourage SAC to learn more about how its racial identity and cultural values shape institutional identity and practice; arrange intentional interactions between members of the Board of Trustees and faculty, staff, and alumni of color to address a spirit of suspicion that leaders are misinformed about matters of racial diversity; and multiply programs that foster cultural immersion and experiential learning, such as HNGR, BRIDGE, and Wheaton in Chicago.

The report mainly consists of verbatim comments from members of the campus community—comments that serve to describe our campus diversity environment with respect to institutional identity and practice. The report also expresses the hope that the College will be able to “engender the sense of trust and transparency which is contributive and additive in continuing to create a healthy, Christ-centered diversity.”

Although making progress on these recommendations will take some time, the administration has already begun to gather best practices from other colleges and plans to consult with faculty, staff, students, and Human Resources in drafting a job description and reporting structure for a campus-wide diversity officer. We plan to give regular updates as this process moves forward.