Threshold 2022: Cultivating a Culture of Inclusive Excellence

Conceptualizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We at Puget Sound intentionally conceptualize and view diversity as a matter of equity and inclusion. In doing so, we aim to understand and actively respond to the ways organizational aspects of our society and of our own university often work against those principles, excluding some groups and individuals from our community while including others. The work of diversity, accordingly, seeks to account for and redress deeply embedded historical practices and legacies, forms of cultural and social representation, and institutional policies and processes that can systematically exclude groups or individuals from full participation in higher education and the considerable benefits it offers.

Diversity and Inclusion Vision

We are a campus community that values the intrinsic worth of its members, recognizes our shared qualities, and embraces our differences. We make appreciation of all persons a key characteristic of this community, foster a spirit of openness and active engagement, and strive to be diverse and inclusive in every aspect of campus life. In doing so, we ensure a full educational opportunity for all who teach and learn at the University of Puget Sound.

We believe that reflective, thoughtful, and respectful examination of the differing dimensions of diversity educates and empowers all who work and study here to be advocates for inclusion and equity. All members of this community share in cultivating, sustaining, and continuously developing an environment in which equity is intentionally sought and inclusiveness is practiced. The University of Puget Sound is a powerful example of a community enriched by diversity in all its forms, and by the challenges and rewards that come with diverse representation, thought, and expression.

Diversity includes attention to identity characteristics such as age, disability, sex, race, ethnicity, religion/spiritual tradition, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, veteran status, job status or socioeconomic class, nation of origin, language spoken, documentation status, personal appearance and political beliefs. Diversity also includes attention to processes such as design of the curriculum, admissions policies and practices, hiring and retention practices, assessment of performance, budgeting, and any other day-to-day business decisions made within the institution.

History of Diversity Strategic Planning

Since the creation of the Diversity Planning Task Force in academic year 2005-06, and the establishment of a Diversity Strategic Plan in December 2006, Puget Sound has worked diligently to address diversity and inclusion on campus. Out of the work undertaken by the Task Force, a more permanent college-wide institutional group, the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) was established in September 2008.  DAC is a group charged with examining diversity, inclusion, and equity issues on campus with respect to policy and practice from multiple perspectives (including access, recruitment and retention, community connections and outreach to diverse constituents, and campus climate and culture). DAC works together with the President’s Cabinet leadership and Puget Sound constituents to engage the campus community in productive dialogue about campus climate issues and to make recommendations toward action.

DAC collaborates with Institutional Research (IR) to lead and carry out Puget Sound’s Campus Climate Survey focused on gauging collective change in experiences and perceptions of Puget Sound campus climate as reported by faculty, staff, and students, and is charged, in collaboration with the Cabinet, with developing and implementing the institution’s Diversity Strategic Plan. DAC reviews current efforts aimed at enhancing diversity in representation and practice, and considers which diversity goals and approaches might serve effective in furthering the university’s diversity and inclusion vision, and diversity statement.

The goals and objectives of the diversity strategic plan should be designed to serve as a vehicle to help move the university from its current state with regard to equity and inclusion, practice, and representation toward the future state to which we aspire. Important to the accountability of each strategic goal is the institution’s role in providing the human and financial capacity to effectively carry out said objectives.

 Strategic Goals

Goal One

Recruitment and Retention: We continuously work to increase the structural diversity of the Puget Sound campus community.

Goal Two

Campus Climate Cultivation: We continuously work towards intentionally fostering and sustaining a welcoming campus community that strives for structural diversity, cultivates a culture of inclusive learning, supports systemic transformation, and is based on the principles of equity and inclusion.

Goal Three

Community Connections and Engagement: We continuously work to develop, strengthen, remake and repair relationships with diverse constituencies from Tacoma and the broader regions, and to build mutually beneficial collaborations that promote just transformation and further educational and civic aims of the campus and broader community. 

Goal Four

Alumni Outreach and Connections: We continuously work to develop opportunities for alumni to contribute in multiple ways to increase access, cultivate a culture of inclusive learning, support systemic transformation, and strengthen relationships with alumni from underrepresented and minoritized groups.

Members of the Diversity Advisory Council

Michael Benitez, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer (Chair)
Kate Cohn '00, Assistant Director for Assessment, Institutional Research and Retention
Grace Livingston, Associate Professor, African American Studies
Jeffrey Matthews P'16, Professor, School of Business and Leadership
James Miller, Director of Admission
Brittney Jackson, Counselor, Admissions
Jada Pelger '96, Information Resources Coordinator, Collins Memorial Library
Peggy Perno, Director, Student Accessibility and Accommodations
Ellen Peters, Director, Institutional Research and Retention
Amy Ryken, Professor, School of Education
Joseph Colon, Access Programs Coordinator
Roy Robinson, Director of International Programs
Janice Jackson-Haley, Director of Human Resources
Allison Cannady-Smith, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations
Chad H Gunderson, Assistant Professor, Art and Art History
Mary Clements ’09, Assistant to the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
Dave Wright '96, University Chaplain and Director, Spiritual Life and Civic Engagement
Irema Halilovic '16, Student Representative and Muslim Student Association President
Nakisha Renee Jones '16, Student Representative and ASUPS President