School of the Arts – Five Year Diversity Plan
Through diversity, we aim to establish a forum to stimulate the commitment, understanding and acceptance of diversity in the educational disciplines inherent in the creative arts, encourage improvement through continuous self-study and planning, and foster inclusive excellence in the School of the Arts through the development of criteria, standards, and guidelines for assessing educational effectiveness. We believe that art is inherently inclusive, and the School of the Arts is committed to the continued acceptance and welcoming of all people and the establishment and maintenance of diversity within our student body, faculty and staff and that no person shall be subject to discrimination in any relationship with the School because of sex, race, color, creed, religion, sexual preference or national origin. Our core assumption of inclusive excellence is that excellence cannot be achieved without valuing and practicing inclusion.
In our commitment to develop a climate of inclusive excellence and cultural understanding within all our creative disciplines, we provide the following examples of our successes.
The School of the Arts, in its commitment to the university’s diversity, has a history of actively promoting diversity through our curriculum, conferences, performances, faculty, research and student experiences within the school and by participation in collaborations with community and international projects. The School of the Arts has minority representation among our chairs in about a quarter of our programs, including dance, music, craft and theater. We also have diverse faculty leading their fields at the highest level of excellence.
Rationale Relevant to the School
While there is not a separate plan or statement regarding diversity among the accreditors, each recognizes its value by offering a supplemental publication containing applications for curriculum and program planning and for diversity and multicultural issues. In addition, the operational documents for each association contain specific directives and recommendations with regard to diversity. Goals espoused include the encouragement of diversity in American education and among member institutions. It is also recommended that multiple faculty involved in any specific area of specialization should represent a diversity of background and experience in their field of expertise. With regard to student admissions, members are directed to consider the diversity of previous education, background, and interests of applicants in assessments of their potential as appropriate to the specific purposes of individual degree programs.
The School of the Arts embraces these ideals and reaffirms its commitment to absolute inclusiveness. We plan to build on our past successes and work diligently to overcome our challenges. Through the goals outlined in the action plan of this document, it is our intention to meet or exceed the expectations of our accrediting agencies.
The School of the Arts not only sees itself as embracing diversity, but in leading the charge at VCU. Our successes are varied and documented. We have sought out students, faculty and visiting artists from diverse backgrounds. Because of the nature of what we do, our students and faculty are constantly challenged to present their ideas, and we are required to explain ourselves and what emotions/experiences inspired our work. By seeking out a spectrum of ideas, our diversity has come organically.
Going forward in implementing our five year diversity plan, the School would like to more closely resemble the diversity of its students with our focus on the continued recruitment of a diverse population of students, the formalization of career planning efforts to assist students, recruitment and hiring of a diverse faculty, pay band upgrades for staff positions, ongoing support for retention of diverse faculty and staff as well as much-needed facility upgrades.
It is the intention of the School of the Arts to achieve its diversity objectives by meeting both the School of the Arts and the University’s Five Year Diversity Plans.
Holly Price Alford,
Director of Diversity for the School of the Arts