Wesleyan Launches Making Excellence Inclusive Initiative

On Nov. 18, Wesleyan launched Making Excellence Inclusive (MEI), an initiative created to help identify ways to further the university’s institutional diversity and inclusion.

MEI <http://www.wesleyan.edu/partnerships/mei/overview.html> draws on the Making Excellence Inclusive project of the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) that re-envisions diversity and inclusion as “a multi-layered process for achieving excellence in learning, research and teaching, student development, institutional functioning, local and global community engagement, workforce development, and more.”

“We in the Wesleyan community have long understood diversity to be an educational asset,” wrote President Michael Roth in a campus announcement. “This initiative is meant to assist us in identifying ways to further institutional inclusion: that is, to further the intentional engagement with diversity in ways that increase awareness and empathic understanding of differences that may divide us but that also may educate us.”

MEI involves all parts of the university and is overseen by a Presidential Task Force <http://www.wesleyan.edu/partnerships/mei/taskforce.html> , tri-chaired by Sonia Mañjon, vice president for institutional partnerships and chief diversity officer, Michael Whaley, vice president for student affairs, and Rob Rosenthal, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The initiative will challenge Wesleyan faculty, staff and students to discuss their own engagement with diversity. After facilitating a series of conversations with campus groups that will encompass everyone from the Board of Trustees to the first year students, the task force will review the results of the conversations and, by summer 2012, make recommendations for how the university can better use its diversity as an educational asset.

Faculty and staff will be asked to think about the level of their individual engagement with diversity and discuss with colleagues how inclusion can be strengthened in their areas. On the basis of these discussions, departments and offices will develop micro-level goals, metrics and assessment tools for making excellence inclusive in their specific domains.

With regard to students, this initiative focuses on the ways in which they currently explore issues of difficult differences, their engagement in learning communities, and the implementation of programs and networks intended to promote engagement with diversity on campus.

“At Wesleyan we seek ‘to build a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty and staff who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit.’ This is our mission, our challenge,” Roth wrote in the announcement. “Making Excellence Inclusive provides us with another opportunity to rise to that challenge as we continually create a liberal arts institution that, in the words of its first president Willbur Fisk, fosters ‘the good of the individual and the good of the world.’”