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Photo of Foust Hall
Photo of Foust Hall

University Communications recently spoke with Dr. Andrea Hunter, one of the Chancellor’s Fellows for Campus Climate and professor in the department of human development and family studies, about her work on a new website that focuses on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) at UNCG.

In collaboration with Internet Technology Services and University Communications, Dr. Hunter led the project and provided the vision which resulted in the new website. The project was borne out of a need to address equity in education and employment on campus, but also to address the dual impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the tragic murder of George Floyd and others.

The website is broad divided into a year-long plan that includes:

  • Advancing an Academic Framework, which will advance equity, diversity, and inclusive excellence action and provide a roadmap to guide campus-wide efforts toward systemic change.
  • Investing in Pathways to Equity, which will focus on mentoring, faculty success, and leadership development for underrepresented faculty.
  • Promoting Inclusive Excellence with education and training, and providing guidance for discovery assessment and strategic priorities planning for equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The new website will be followed soon by a new Diversity Dashboard and Training Commons.

UC: Dr. Hunter, congratulations on the launch of the new EDI website. Can you tell us a bit about how and when the EDI website idea came about, and how you got involved?

AH: Thanks so much, we are very excited about this! In consideration of how to best communicate our efforts, we decided in Fall 2020 that a reboot of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion website would best introduce the UNCG Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Action Framework and Roadmap, and highlight new and upcoming University-level efforts.

We worked with Internet Technology Services and University Communications to bring forward a vision and aesthetic that was uniquely UNCG. Just two weeks launched, we have already received complimentary feedback external to our campus. So, we see the new EDI website as an expression of not so much a new story, but a revitalized one – one that propels us further than we have been.

UC: Who is the intended audience for the new website, and how can they expect to use it?

AH: Our call to action is to be a university where equity, diversity, and inclusion are not only what we say but what we do, and more, who we are – such that it is a part of our DNA. To this end, this website is for all of us.

Individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the work needed, and why; may build support for collaboration, including cross-functional groups, based on a shared framework; and may better appreciate how we are engaged in a shared project. As we launch additional pages, I expect to see them used for education and foundation learning, for assessment and planning, as a portal to resources across the campus, and for consultation and support.

UC: UNCG recently launched the racialequity.uncg.edu website. Can you tell us how these two websites differ, and how they work together?

AH: Racial Equity at UNCG is an external-facing website (i.e., it is designed to engage the larger community) that is a gathering place where we may ask difficult questions, seek out a community in dialogue and healing, and find resources to learn and grow as we affirm our commitment to racial equity and systemic change.  

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion website is internal-facing, and focused on our institutional efforts to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion across social identities and groups, and their intersection. The site provides guidance and resources for the way forward, as well as articulates a central narrative for systemic and action-oriented efforts.

The websites, together, are a multilayered expression of the best of who we are and can be as a university.

UC: It looks like the Action Framework functions as a roadmap for what the EDI website will do. Can you talk about the need for such a roadmap?

AH: I see the Action Framework as a roadmap for what we can do as a university to create, support, and sustain equity, diversity, and inclusion on our campus. We need a framework and roadmap because:

Equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts on our campus are among the most decentralized in the UNC System. A shared framework empowers local leadership and strategic action but also coheres campus efforts and supports a common direction.

The roadmap also directs us to engage the levers of systemic inequality and to pursue data-driven management of best practices and policies to sustain access, opportunity, and inclusive excellence – so we are not just working the margins.

So, the roadmap is designed to meet us wherever we are to build forward; to encourage intentional, action-oriented, and substantial engagement; and to promote collaboration including cross-functional groups – and to help build a sense of shared fate and common purpose as a campus community in these pursuits. 

UC: The Pathways to Equity and Inclusive Excellence sections of the website appear to track progress on the different elements outlined in the roadmap. Can you talk about this need for tracking and transparency?

AH: These two elements alert the campus that our aim is to build pathways to equity, and we are focused on making excellence inclusive. 

We wanted to model tracking progress and transparency, as it strengthens our resolve. The road toward change is most often incremental and takes time – so it is important to remind ourselves that we are moving forward. Tracking and transparency is also about accountability; we live in a time where words alone are no longer enough – so we are held to our actions and ultimately desired outcomes.

UC: You and the EDI team have an ambitious first-year plan. What is your vision for subsequent years?

AH: For this year, we would like to bring everything forward to implementation, and I am just beginning to think through next year’s vision. First, and foremost, I would like to see us further fund and build capacity for equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts and to innovate for sustainability. But, still, early days to share specific ideas/vision going forward.

UC: How will you measure success for the new website?

AH: Well, visitors to the site, for one. It is my view that “If you build it, they will come, and if it is good, they will stay.” And, perhaps in turn, they will also build and lead.

So, success is measured by the ways the site contributes to conversation, informs the imagined; is used and applied, and is a reference point for individuals, departments and programs, units, offices, and collaborative groups as they chart their way forward. I hope the equity, diversity, and inclusion website also inspires investment in our efforts through giving.

UC: Is there anything else you would like to add or highlight about the new EDI website?

AH: I grew up with freedom songs from the Civil Rights Movement. One of my favorites is,“Keep Your Eye on the Prize.” This is what we must do to sustain this effort, as it will require much of us, but it is not beyond our reach – we just need the will.

Story by Matthew Bryant, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications

 
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