It is one of the Board of Trustees’ strategic priorities to “ensur[ing] equitable access to and completion of a quality post-secondary education for all Vermonters, including those who have been marginalized or underrepresented historically.”
Note: Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice (DEISJ) are used interchangeable throughout these documents. To better represent VSCS’ values, there are plans to update all references to DEI into DEISJ.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
On January 15th, 2021, the Board of Trustees established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee as part of meeting its strategic priority and as a commitment to values of diversity, equity and inclusion in the governance and operations within the Vermont State College system. This committee was further created to identify ways to improve equitable access to VSCS’ educational programs and recruitment for employment for those who have been marginalized or underrepresented historically.
Current Committee Members:
- Shirley Jefferson (Chair)
- Ryan Cooney
- David Durfee
- Bill Lippert
- Karen Luneau
- Jim Masland
- Mary Moran
Adoption of VSCS Diversity Statement
On May 16th, 2022, the VSCS Board of Trustees adopted a system-wide Diversity Statement. This statement was adopted after hearing from Dr. Jae Basiliere, Kathleen Mason, and Mary Brodsky, members of the DEISJ Transformation Team. This statement was developed through feedback from faculty, staff and students across the system. This process provided a valuable opportunity to engage in conversations and opened the doors for further conversations and actions moving forward. It is acknowledged this the statement is foundational to do the work around DEISJ, but is not enough standing alone.
Support of Anti-Racism Pledge
This pledge was officially adopted by the VSCS Board of Trustees on October 25th, 2021. It was drafted over the course of a year by student representatives from each VSC institution in collaboration with administrators, faculty, and community leaders. This body of work rose in response to student experiences of discrimination on Vermont campuses and broader national racial inequities.
Adoption of NERCHE Self-Assessment Rubric
The Board of Trustees voted on October 25th, 2021 to approve and adopt the definitions of “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” used by the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) in its Self-Assessment Rubric for the Institutionalization of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education, with one amendment—the inclusion of “gender identity” in the definition of “diversity”—as follows:
Diversity: Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, country of origin, physical or cognitive abilities, as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.
Inclusion: The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical). This engagement with diversity has the potential to increase one’s awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.
Equity: Creating opportunities for equal access and success for historically underrepresented populations, such as racial and ethnic minority and low-income students, in three main areas:
- Representational equity, the proportional participation at all levels of an institution;
- Resource equity, the distribution of educational resources in order to close equity gaps; and
- Equity-mindedness, the demonstration of an awareness of and willingness to address equity issues among institutional leaders and staff.
DEISJ Transformation Working Group
As a part of Transformation, diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice pillars are being used to create more equitable and just systems for Vermont State University and the rest of the VSCS.
There are 3 Pillars of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice that are being considered by every one of the transformation teams to help inform their work. They are:
- Data-Informed Decisions about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
- Professional Knowledge of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice
- Personal Knowledge of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice