The purpose of the Commission is to craft the reforms necessary to make Tulane University a racially diverse, inclusive community, one in which all students learn the Tulane values of respect and equality.
The Commission will focus first on recommending reforms that the President can implement immediately. The Commission will also strategize about longer-term goals that require more planning and will evaluate and prioritize reforms that require significant resources. The President will regularly review the ideas, suggestions and strategies from the Commission, rather than waiting for a formal report, with a focus on immediate implementation whenever possible.
The Commission will focus specifically on the following issues:
The Commission will identify ways for Tulane to significantly increase the number of students of color, particularly African-Americans, by examining admissions policies and available financial aid. The Commission will examine the costs necessary to better compete with peer institutions and will focus on more immediate efforts to recruit students of color to apply and to accept offers of admission. The Commission will focus initially on undergraduate admissions and then turn to the graduate and professional schools.
The Commission will work to improve the campus climate and to teach all Tulane community members the values of respect, inclusion, equality, compassion and fundamental human dignity. It will recommend ways to report, to document and to respond to racist incidents on campus. It will grapple with the problems of racial profiling and suspicion. It will consider the role Greek life should have in improving the campus climate. It will consider the best ways to foster a better sense of community for students of color and to expand the important work of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. It will consider the particular hardships of students without means and the possibility of creating an emergency fund. It will consider the experience of students in the School of Continuing Studies and better ways to include these students in campus life.
The Commission will build on the work of the Taskforce on Embedding Diversity and Inclusive Excellence and find ways to expand upon, and to implement, its recommendations. The Commission will examine the costs necessary to better compete with other institutions in recruiting faculty of color. It will assist the President in his commitment to create a special opportunity fund to assist in that recruitment. The Commission will develop creative approaches to hiring and to building pipelines of diverse faculty. It will develop an understanding of the difficulty of retaining faculty of color in a sometimes hostile climate. It will work to protect their path to promotion from the extra administrative and student mentoring obligations often imposed upon them.
The Commission will consider how best to teach Tulane students cross-cultural understanding and an understanding of their own privilege. These are skills crucial to meaningful citizenship in a democracy and to success in a global economy. The Commission will consider how we best use the classroom to root out racism in our students, and how to educate our faculty on the best methods to do so. It will consider how to teach students these lessons before they engage in service learning, both to maximize the understanding and skills our students will gain, but also to ensure that they do no harm in the communities they serve. The Commission will look at the efforts to embed cross-cultural training in every freshman TIDES course, but also elsewhere in our curriculum. It will consider how best to support the interdisciplinary Africana Studies program.
The Commission will consider the need for greater diversity in Tulane staff, and the even greater need for diversity in the upper levels of administration. The Commission will review Tulane's efforts to address racism in the workplace, in hiring, promotion and retention. The Commission will examine Tulane's policies for contracted labor. The Commission will also evaluate needs for training on issues of race for our staff and administration.
Moderated by Dr. Paula Booke, Director of the Center for Academic Equity, the June 29th online discussion welcomed students, faculty and staff to share thoughts on building a better, more diverse and more just Tulane.
Participants included President Michael A. Fitts, Carolyn Barber-Pierre, Michael Cunningham, PhD, Kelly Grant, Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD and Laura Osteen, PhD.