Actionable Items Outlined by SPS Board of Trustees
In June 2020, the Board of Trustees sent a letter to the SPS community seeking to “re-examine the pervasive role of racism and its impact on people of color and our society,” and acknowledged, “we are accountable not only to the faculty and the students but also to the moral imperative of protecting the basic human rights of all.” The board then outlined a list of immediate and longer-term initiatives under way or to be undertaken by the community.
2021 Update on Proposed Initiatives
“We will identify and support dedicated affinity group space.”
- The dedicated affinity space was ready by fall 2021.
“We will support professional development work for faculty as teachers, advisers, house parents, and coaches to strengthen their work with and support of students of color.”
- Intentional support was available in 2020-21 for teachers, advisers, and house parents through LINC curriculum, faculty professional development, and teach-ins with consultant Dr. Keith Hinderlie on culturally responsive practice. The Athletic Department is working on professional development opportunities for 2021-22.
“We will hire/retain a counselor of color.”
- A part-time counselor was hired in August 2020; a full-time counselor was hired July 2021.
2021 Update on Proposed Areas of Focus
Access and support for underrepresented and international students
- Establishment of a Student DEI Council.
- Launch of 13 student affinity and alliance groups guided by faculty lead advisers.
- Formation and ongoing support of faculty affinity and alliance groups (Faculty of Color and Multicultural Backgrounds, Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE) – work-in-progress).
- Enhanced academic support team formed for 2021-2022 to help close any learning gaps introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Addition of a full-time counselor of color (faculty position), increasing the number of counselors in our health center to 4.5.
Support for international students through international student adviser/society – more specific orientation for international students.
- Appointed director of global engagement.
Raise significant endowment funds to ensure the long-term sustainability of our financial aid program to enable 40% students on aid by 2020.
Hiring and training — professional development
- Ongoing participation by administrative team members and department heads in Diversity Directions and National Diversity Practitioners Institute.
- Collaborating and knowledge sharing with the broader educational community [e.g. National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference (PoCC)].
- Frequent participation in learning events hosted by the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) and National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES).
- Partnering with Ron Brown Scholar Program, Breakthrough Collaborative/Breakthrough Greater Boston, Minority Serving Institutions [e.g. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)] to further diversify SPS Teaching Fellows.
- Active faculty/student participation in Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) at PoCC, AISNE High School Students of Color Conference, and National Anti-Racism Teach-In Virtual Conference.
- Cross-cultural training and mini-climate assessment for faculty of color with Dr. Keith Hinderlie of Hinderlie Associates.
- Consultation, diversity audit, and training sessions with VISIONS, Inc.
- Faculty DEI Council-hosted educational events.
The Task Force proposed a goal that 26% of faculty body be people of color by 2018-19.
- 29% of faculty are POC for 2021-22 academic year; 27% in 2018-19.
The faculty body reflects or exceeds the diversity of the student body.
- The overall percentage of faculty of color (29%) does not exceed the percentage of students of color (44%). The percentage of faculty with certain identities exceeds that of the student percentage who identify in the same groupings (African, African American, Hispanic/Latinx).
Each academic department achieves 20% faculty of color by 2020.
- Progress has been made across individual departments (nine out of 11 are greater than 20%). Some departments are not yet at 20% of faculty being people of color.
Diversity of sexual orientation, religion, age, geography, ability, socioeconomic status, ideological perspectives
- Expanding diversity is ongoing focus in hiring and student admissions. Two new admission positions created in 2020-21 to support outreach.
Immersive experience in cross-cultural competency for Trustees, faculty, staff, and students, providing a common language and framework.
- Cross-cultural competency through immersive experiences is part of a professional requirement for all administrators, department heads, and new faculty; opportunities also exist for students. Opportunities for staff and trustees have not yet been identified.
New Faculty attend Diversity Directions or SEEDS training between second and third years.
- Many faculty members have participated in Diversity Directions and other comparable programs; it is an ongoing requirement.
Ongoing cross-cultural training
- Recent Professional development includes work with Dr. Keith Hinderlie on Culturally Responsive Teaching and ongoing work with VISIONS, Inc. Various departments continue to engage with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on deepening cross-cultural competency.
Current faculty will participate in off-campus cross-cultural competency professional development within three years, then once every four years.
- More than 96% of faculty members have completed this requirement.
Annual skill-based competency work around equality, equity and inclusivity utilizing cultural resources within the faculty.
- Faculty members have led faculty meetings focused on culturally-responsive teaching; hosted teach-in sessions for current faculty; formed a faculty book group on culturally-responsive teaching, and also work with SPS Faculty DEI Council.
Encourage faculty publications on topics of diversity and inclusivity.
- “Truths that are Self-Evident,” by Vice Rector of Faculty Michael Spencer, CSEE 4/21.
Create and launch an equity/inclusivity forum by summer 2020.
- The pandemic introduced challenges and forced delays; however, the Asian American Footsteps Conference (AAFC) will be hosted by SPS in 2023.
Supporting student-driven leadership initiatives
- The School continues to enhance student leadership programs through a refinement of the student leadership selection process with diverse representation across positions. The 2021-22 academic year is the first with formally structured affinity and alliance groups in place and active.
- The 2021-22 academic year is also the first full year with a formal Student DEI Council.
- The DEI director, in partnership with other community members, is providing resources and creating venues for students to share with the faculty their experiences to foster a more inclusive community. (SPS Voices, Chapel Talks)
- Continue to identify and collaborate with a core group of students as educators who help shape annual inclusivity training. Continue student participation in the formulation of community-wide curricula (e.g. LINC Days, MLK Day, first annual Black History Month Chapel Talk series, Women’s History Month Chapel Talk and virtual salons).
- Continue student/faculty participation in the Student Diversity Leadership Conference at the People of Color Conference.
- Continue well-supported, visible, and active affinity and alliance groups on campus for faculty/staff and students.
- Working to ensure community spaces are inclusive of heterogeneous populations and available for use by affinity/alliance groups (e.g. dorms/gender inclusive housing, dining hall, Chapel, community center, new student spaces for members of Interfaith Council and affinity/alliance groups).
- A newly reimagined Interfaith Council.
- Co-wrote and submitted a proposal for SPS to host the 2023 Asian American Footsteps Conference for 500+ students, which was accepted.
Support student leaders in their own cross cultural competency training.
- Leadership training enhanced in this area through LINC Day programming.
Create community spaces (dorms, dining hall, Chapel, community center, etc.) that are inclusive of heterogeneous populations and available for use by affinity groups.
- Opening of new community hub in Sheldon offers additional resources, connection, and engagement for all students. Created dedicated space for affinity and alliance groups in the lower level of Sheldon, as part of a new, collaborative shared space for the Chaplaincy and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Multicultural education delivered through the integrated curriculum
- Work to ensure that campus speakers organized through the Visitors Committee represent diverse speakers/perspectives in annual programming.
- Intentional focus on integration of social justice initiatives connected to Episcopal identity of the School and delivered through the Chapel program and civic engagement. With intentional focus and collaboration, the Chaplaincy team has enhanced/continues to enhance the chapel program by amplifying the eclectic voices of students, faculty, staff, and other social justice practitioners, helping to further enrich the student experience.
- Communicating commitment to an inclusive SPS community through publications and media (e.g. the Alumni Horae magazine, print and electronic community newsletters, dynamic DEI page on sps.edu, development of an internal resource portal, execution of a DEI communications plan).
- Faculty DEI Council learning events.
- Creation of Mosaic (DEI) team comprised of 15 faculty and staff members across departments. The group meets monthly to share DEI updates, seek/provide program and/or event support as necessary, and collaborate around how to meet or exceed institutional goals.
Integration of social justice initiatives connected to the Episcopal identity of the School and delivered through the Chapel program, civic engagement, etc.
- Vice rectors for faculty and school life participated in the National Association of Episcopal Schools initiative for diversity practitioners and chaplains. A more intentional focus on the Chapel program and its offerings in relation to NAES’s work is now underway.
Faculty support for integrating multicultural perspectives infused in curricula across all departments. Next step: appoint faculty members to shepherd this integration.
- The work has begun under the director of DEI; all departments have participated in professional development in this area. This remains an ongoing and developing area of focus for the School.
Communicating commitment to inclusive community through all publications and media.
- Refreshed DEI website under development; ongoing communications stories, profiles and event coverage disseminated across SPS channels.
Accountability and assessment (ongoing)
- Reviewing SPS Inclusivity Statement
- Ensuring accountability by integrating diversity and inclusivity tactics into metrics and annual assessments.
- Ensuring that DEI programs and events meet the following criteria: Affirm Identity, Build Community, Cultivate Leadership (Source: Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum)
- Measuring culture shift in the following ways:
- Assessing experience of often underrepresented groups or those whose voices are often excluded.
- Surveying competencies and skills of all constituencies.
- Measuring extent to which faculty are engaging this work beyond the SPS community.
- Examining the traditions, practices, structures, and values we promote as a community and how these promote and support (or not) inclusivity, celebrate unity, and advance equity
- Monitoring SPS community spaces to determine existence of heterogeneous community.