At Adler University we stand for social justice. We will continue to examine what it means to be a social justice institution and hold ourselves accountable for living that mission. At Adler, that means a renewed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of our work.
During the summer of 2020, a spotlight was put on the conscious and unconscious ways that institutions both accept and advance an anti-Black culture. The nation borne witness to a seemingly unending rash of murders of Black men and women by authorities, and the COVID-19 pandemic put in focus how the failure to address health disparities in communities of color has led to disproportionately high numbers of severe illness and deaths in those communities. An awakening occurred and even the most progressive institutions began to see their own shortcomings.
At Adler, we listened, reflected and allowed ourselves to understand our own shortcomings, and we will continue to do so everyday going forward. But, listening, reflecting and understanding, while all important, are not nearly enough. Actions are demanded and required. Actions must become a vital part of our mission going forward.
As a higher education institution, we have a responsibility to address how the forces of systemic racism and colonialism in our country have shaped what students learn in the classroom. We must reexamine and then transform the classroom experience to more expansively and deeply include attention to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in the curriculum. Tolerance must be replaced with an authentic appreciation and celebration of difference. For this reason, beginning in January 2021, Adler began a multi-year curriculum transformation plan that will revisit academic pedagogy to re-imagine how the BIPOC experience is interwoven through all the courses and programs we offer.
Additionally, Black students and faculty within Adler University issued a call for change, demanding that policy, practice and structural changes be made to address racism in all forms. The thoughtfulness and passion of those raising their voices is deeply appreciated. Adler is actively working to create change around the issues shared in their document. In constructively addressing these vitally important issues, our goal is to include the voices and vision of Adler’s BIPOC community, including students and faculty, but recognize, in the words of Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name, bell hooks, “what we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe.”
In recent years, Adler has taken important steps to expand the diversity of its leadership team. Today, four out of nine of Adler’s institutional senior staff positions are led by BIPOC leaders. In 2019, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion was launched and expanded to include additional staff and resources. Learn more about the Center for Diversity & Inclusion.
While actions toward creating a more equitable and inclusive culture have been made, we heartily acknowledge that much more remains to be done. Adler is committed to working with students and faculty to create a learning environment truly reflective of our mission.
Adler University’s Vision: The leading academic institution advancing socially responsible practice, healthy communities, and a more just society.
In order to realize our vision, more fully live our mission, and build upon our anti-racism agenda, Adler will work with faculty across all three campuses to transform our curriculum and learning outcomes. By addressing the narrowness of a too often white-centered curriculum, Adler will seek to ensure that every class and program effectively addresses issues of justice and human diversity.
In January of 2021, a Steering Committee was established to lead our curriculum transformation, and its membership includes students, faculty, and staff from across our campuses.
The Steering Committee is co-chaired by Dr. Cheryl Richardson, Director of Inclusive Teaching Excellence and Dr. Wendy Paszkiewicz, Vice President of Academic Affairs in collaboration with Adler University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion.
The group’s research on precedents for this work found that, while some colleges and universities have described the need or intention to de-center whiteness and other majority perspectives in their curricula, none have progressed or documented such work.
In June 2021, the Steering Committee drafted goals, action items, and a timeline for their activity over the next two years. Those goals include:
Goal 1: Define what it means for Adler to “transform the curriculum,” and create a document that will articulate a shared vision and common language about what we hope to collectively accomplish. The draft of set agreements will be shared with Adler students, staff and faculty in early 2022.
Goal 2: Revise our current course offerings such that each class/seminar integrates concepts that are specified by the agreements completed by Goal 1. Concepts may include social justice, racial equity, indigenization, and human diversity.
Goal 3: Determine foundational diversity and social justice andragogical (teaching) training needs for all faculty and staff and provide associated training opportunities.
Please continue to check back for updates on steps taken to achieve each goal.
The Transforming the Curriculum Initiative was financially assisted by the Fifth Third Chicagoland Foundation.
As a higher education institution, we have a responsibility to address how the forces of systemic racism and colonialism in our country have shaped what students experience in our classrooms. That means a renewed commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our learning environment.
An important milestone in our work together was the launch of the University’s first Anti-Racism and Inclusion Plan.
The plan was drafted by the University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion – who worked with stakeholders across the year to develop strategies focused on recruitment and retention, climate and environment, and dismantling systemic oppression.
A draft of the plan was reviewed by the Anti-Racism and Inclusion Committee of the Board. Following the review of the committee, the Anti-Racism and Inclusion Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in August 2021. Outcomes will be monitored by the Board and its Anti-Racism and Inclusion Committee across the year and will be used to inform our anti-racism work in subsequent years.
While this is an important step toward creating a more equitable and inclusive culture at the University, there is much more to be done. The faculty, staff, and administration at Adler remain committed to creating a learning environment that is truly reflective of our mission.
After listening and reflecting on the demands of the Adler Community, our Diversity Recruitment Plan serves to outline the ways that we as a university are dedicated to increasing the outreach to prospective Black students, increasing the percentage of Black student enrollments, and diversifying our overall student body across all three of our campuses. The recruitment strategies included in this multi-year plan are align with our mission and vision of advancing social justice.
In June of 2020, Black students and faculty at Adler shared with the administration what they call The 2020 Adler University Black Community Demands and Expectations, which outlines policies, practices and structural changes they would like to see adopted and implemented across the University’s three campuses. Adler’s leadership listened, reflected and began taking action. Committed to addressing the calls for change outlined by students and faculty, President Crossman assigned a senior University leader to each issue to ensure accountability and updates are provided to internal stakeholders on a regular basis.
As the University continues to address all items, it has made significant progress on several. In an effort to be more transparent about its diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, that document is now available to the public. In addition, Adler has expanded on the student requests to institute additional change. Click here to learn more about Adler’s Curriculum Transformation plan.
Five out of nine members of senior administration are BIPOC leaders
37% of workforce identifies as BIPOC: 30% of Faculty, and 49% of Staff
41% of students identify as BIPOC
44% of Board of Trustees are BIPOC; selection criteria for Board recruitment includes increased emphasis on BIPOC
Creation of an Anti-racism & Inclusion Committee of the Board on equal footing with Finance & Academic Affairs
Mandatory annual trainings for faculty: Disability Awareness; Accessibility and Action; Anti-Blackness; and Safe Spaces
87% graduation rate for 2019-20 academic year including 86% of ethnic minority students
Elimination of GRE requirement for all but one of our academic programs
All programs must have a learning objective specifically dedicated to SRP and each course has a diversity learning outcome
90% of alumni who responded to our survey reported that they work with underserved communities
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report (2015), and its 94 Calls to Action, acknowledges the profound harm that Indigenous Peoples have endured due to colonialism and has called us all to action in the many places of our personal and professional sphere of influence. The report places education at the centre of the reconciliation process and since that time, colleges and universities have grappled with how to transform our academic enterprise.
Adler University acknowledges that, as a place for training and educating students who will be practitioners in various areas of psychology, we have much to do in providing the necessary knowledge, training, and support that would allow us to properly and respectfully engage with Indigenous Peoples of British Columbia. However, the University has taken important first steps to do so and, starting from a position of humility, is committed to this journey involving preparation and transformation: a journey that will be a long-term, multiphasic process that touches all we do in research, training, and practice.
The following report reflects these first steps forward and examines our current state of readiness to engage a meaningful transformation at the Vancouver Campus. Although there has been some progress as a result of thoughtful, well-intentioned action by many, this work has been organic in nature and is therefore limited in its effectiveness. If we truly seek to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and cultural literacy into a transformed model of socially responsible practice, we will need to do so in a coordinated fashion with Indigenous communities, scholars, students and staff. “Nothing about us without us” will need to become a central tenet of this work.