April 5, 2022
President Linton provides updates on the university’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts
Dear K-State Community:
Our collective goal at K-State is to build the best community possible. To do that, we need to be working, continually working, on full inclusivity for ALL of our community. Our students, our faculty, our staff and our stakeholders expect and deserve nothing less. In my visits with students, faculty and staff since I arrived at K-State, I have learned how our university community has worked together to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives over the past several years. I am incredibly grateful to the many individuals, committees and groups who have been engaged in this critically important work.
It is clear that there have been many positive steps and progress made, but we all know we need to do more. This week, I am moving forward with four immediate steps that I believe will continue to guide us in a forward direction.
- We are launching our first universitywide diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, or DEIB, five-year strategic plan. Our Lens, Our Focus, Our K-State is the culmination of work completed by faculty, staff and students on the President’s Commission on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, formerly the President's Commission on Multicultural Affairs. This plan was developed with input from our broader university community, as well as specific groups, including our multicultural student organizations, the Intercultural Leadership Council, student government and employee affinity groups, the Faculty and University Support Staff Senates, the Cabinet and Deans Council, and the First Tuesday leadership group. This plan will serve as a guide as we work to realize transformative, sustainable institutional changes that lead to a more inclusive K-State. I thank the President’s Commission for their dedicated work and also want to especially thank our Interim Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Be Stoney, for seeing the plan through to its completion.
- This new plan builds upon another important ongoing initiative: the 11-Step Action Plan for a More Inclusive K-State. Initiated in 2020, we are continuing work on this plan, which is driving change and a path forward on many key DEIB initiatives. New updates have been posted to the online dashboard.
- We are creating a vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging position, or VPDEIB, elevating the former chief diversity and inclusion officer role. The vice president will continue to report to the president and have higher and expanded levels of responsibility to move our university forward. Catalyzing and fostering inclusive excellence in all aspects of university life is core to this position. Key areas of responsibility include universitywide strategic planning and monitoring; DEIB reporting and analysis; university climate surveys and initiatives; policy review with a focus on removing structural barriers to access and success for all; DEIB events and communications; intercultural learning initiatives; and institutional equity initiatives.
I have asked Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students, and Shari Crittendon, general counsel, to co-chair the search. We anticipate launching this national search in the coming weeks with the goal of conducting on-campus interviews early this fall. We hope to have the role filled by the conclusion of the fall 2022 semester. You may view the full search committee online.
- This new position is more than a title change; it signifies the formal creation of a division in support of DEIB initiatives. We are establishing a new organizational structure to provide the vice president with the support needed to be successful and clarify the responsibilities of our central DEIB units. This requires a realignment of key teams and resources currently in the Office of the President and Division of Student Life.
The Office of Institutional Equity will report to the new vice president while still retaining a direct line to the President for compliance reporting. The director of intercultural learning and academic success in Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs will also be reassigned to this new unit.
The vacant associate vice president for diversity and multicultural student affairs position and its associated funding are being transferred from the Division of Student Life to this new unit. This executive-level vacancy will provide our new vice president with the flexibility to determine how to best use that position and funding.
Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs will be reimagined as the Office of Student Belonging and Inclusion. This office will be led by an executive director reporting directly to the vice president for student life and will also serve as a member of the Student Life leadership team.
The Office of Student Belonging and Inclusion will remain focused on student engagement and student communities with continued direct responsibility for multicultural student services, including Project Impact; multicultural student organizations; the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center; the LGBTQ Resource Center; and the DreamZone.
These structural changes will be effective upon the hiring of the vice president. I invite you to view an organizational chart (PDF) that details the DEIB structural realignment.
I see these as positive steps for a better K-State. I look forward to having a new vice president who will be charged to connect the dots between our strategic and action step plans. I also plan to give them the freedom to adapt to the needs of our community and make further adjustments to our planning and our structure. In other words, this is a beginning. We must be flexible to change as needed.
Making these important, intentional shifts at this time clarifies the roles and responsibilities of our DEIB leadership, strengthens the financial and staffing support of our DEIB efforts and continues our path forward to advance our strategic DEIB work. That said, it is important to remember that diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is the work of us all. The work is never done, and it will continue to evolve, especially as we onboard permanent leadership in these areas. But this reaffirmation of our commitment to DEIB marks the next great step forward in fulfilling our mission as a next-generation land-grant institution, working tirelessly to make the world around us a better place.
As I often like to say, there is no gear in neutral. I look forward to continuing to move forward together.