Inclusive Excellence

aerial view of uva hospital with words inquiry, accountability, action.

Overview

UVA is implementing the strategic Inclusive Excellence (IE) framework to synergize and support our collective diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts.The collaborative IE model for organizational change has been a national movement in postsecondary education since 2005 and calls for higher education to address diversity, inclusion, and equity as critical to achieving excellence. The themes of diversity, equity, and inclusion are embedded throughout the UVA 2030 Plan. They are among our most important responsibilities and highest priorities. The IE framework will help us bring action and meaningful public accountability to our work of cocreating a clear path for the University to be what we know it can be - both great and good. In this work we are committed to engaging and supporting our neighbors and the broader communities we serve in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Dimensions of the IE Framework

Five connected circles listing dimensions of IE framework.

The IE framework is designed as a comprehensive but flexible structure for engaged, intentional, and systemic self-study across all areas of organizational functioning. Once a functional area or an organization/school/department has studied their areas of strength and their areas of strategic opportunity, specific priorities are named in each dimension that are accompanied by action plans with measurable results. Expand a dimension below to learn more about the types of activities that are the focus of inquiry and strategic action development.

Access + Success

This dimension refers to the compositional diversity among the organization's constituent groups (staff, faculty, students, visitors, patients, alumni, customers, community partners, etc.) and their context-specific outcomes or benefits gained from their relationships with the organization. Processes like recruitment, retention, development, and long term outcomes (graduation, tenure, career advancement, etc.) are the key focus of this dimension. Reflection questions to be engaged in this dimension include things like:

  • How do we invite people to join us (recruitment)?
  • Who gets to be here (admissions/hiring)?
  • How do we provide support (advising/career ladders)?
  • Who benefits and how (graduation/career outcomes)?
Climate + Intergroup Relations

This dimension refers to what it feels like for individuals to be here, and the behavioral experiences and norms that are present. Effective and innovative cultures depend on individuals feeling comfortable to take interpersonal risks and to bring their whole selves to their work and learning. The university and local community are working together to build a living, learning, and working environment where all individuals are supported, are respected, feel a sense of belonging, and are thriving. Measuring constituent perceptions related to feeling respected, belonging, and prevalance of affirming relationships with peers and organizational administration are among the concepts present in this dimension. Reflection questions to be engaged in this dimension include things like:

  • What is it like here and how do we know?
  • How do we relate to one another?
  • Who is thriving and why?
Education + Scholarship

This dimension relates to the ways in which curriculum, teaching, research, scholarship, and employee and student development contribute to our passion for discovery, innovation, community engagement, service, and social justice. Programs and processes in this dimension include intentionally designed curricula and pedagogies, as well as targeted professional development activities, that promote intercultural awareness and competence. Reflection questions to be engaged in this dimension include things like:

  • What do we teach and how?
  • What do we research and how?
  • How and where do we disseminate knowledge?
  • How do we develop our faculty and staff? 
Infrastructure + Investment

This dimension refers to the policies, resources, organizational and communication structures, and performance measures that inform and enable an intentionally inclusive, equitable, and innovative organization. Reflection questions to be engaged in this dimension include things like:

  • How are we organized?
  • Where do we invest our energies and money?
  • What "governs" our work?
  • How do we communicate?
  • How do we build inclusive capacity?
Community + Partnership

This dimension refers to how place-based organizations like ours engage reciprocally and in a participatory way with our surrounding neighborhoods, counties, and the Commonwealth. Specifically, how we as an organization understand and track our impacts in terms of the financial and social-well being of the communities and partners with which we are engaged. Reflection questions to be engaged in this dimension include things like:

  • Where are we and how did we come to be here?
  • What impact do we have in this place?
  • How does the community contribute to our success and knowledge?
  • What does it mean to be a good neighbor?

Definitions

It is important to have a starting place for shared understandings of concepts related to the IE framework in order for our community to be specific and intentional in our work. The following are some key shared definitions to consider.

Diversity

The full spectrum of human attributes, perspectives, identities, backgrounds, disciplines. (See the University's Diversity Statement)

Inclusion

Active, intentional, ongoing process to build community well-being and belonging. (See the AAC&U Definition)

Equity

Fair treatment, equal access, attending to socio-historical structures and lived context –particularly focused on justice for historically underserved or underrepresented groups in a specific context. (See the AAC&U Definition).

Equity-Minded

Taking notice of inequities, their contexts, and the institution’s agency and responsibility in critically reassessing our own practices. (See the USC Center for Urban Education Definition).

Anchor Mission

A commitment to intentionally apply an institution's place-based economic power and human capital in partnership with community to mutually benefit the long-term well-being of both. (See the Democracy Collaborative Definition).


Process + Timeline

The planning process can happen at a range of levels (the School, Vice Presidential area, Unit, and/or Department levels, etc.). There is flexibility to align the process with what makes most functional and operational sense in your area. Whatever level your plan is created for, there are common steps in the process leading to implementing and measuring the impact of the plan.

 create a team, self-study, prioritize, develop actions and metrics, get feedback, finalize and implement, and then measure.

Each area will have its own specific timeline for engaging in different activities. Download the example overall timeline to get an idea about the types of activities happening in your process over the next year.

The first step in the strategic planning process is to assemble a team of individuals who will lead the effort. For many, participation in the planning process will likely be fluid, with participants coming in and out of the process as needed. It is however recommended that a core IE planning team that is representative and includes individuals with positional and social authority in the school/area/department, be convened to support a collaborative process.

Building the IE Planning Team

Functions of the IE Planning Team

  • Planning process design – The IE team will advise the area on the scope, structure, and timeline of the process.
  • Planning process engagement – The IE team will coordinate meetings and communications, producing materials and other relevant items.
  • Inquiry and Change Analysis – The IE team will receive and prepare qualitative and quantitative data to engage in critical reflections on a broad range of processes, practices, programs, and outcomes. The team will have the responsibility to synthesize the information gathered to identify points of affirmation and points of opportunity to make recommendations on the priorities that should be considered by the area that will measurably contribute to achieving inclusive excellence.
  • Strategic Equity and Inclusion Planning – The IE team will facilitate data-driven discussion to develop the content for the IE plan (outcomes, actions, and performance measures).
  • Communications – The IE team will communicate with leadership, staff, faculty, students, and community members about the purpose of the process, updates on the process, for information gathering, and for reporting results of the process.

Selecting IE Planning Team Members

There are different ways to create a core IE planning team. Leaders in the area can appoint a team, nominations from managers could be sought, or a call for applications across the area could be used. There are advantages and important considerations for all these approaches and no one best way. Some considerations for building the core IE planning team include:

  • Authority – The team will need to ask staff in different areas, programs, and departments to provide information and potentially take some actions. To achieve this upper management can be members of the team and/or explicit and clear authorization can be communicated broadly from the executive.
  • Knowledge and Skills – Collectively, IE team members will need to have expert knowledge of the area and how it operates. Some familiarity with equity and inclusion practices and evidence of intercultural competence will be helpful.
  • Time – The IE planning team will need dedicated time for the planning effort. The level of time commitment will vary based on the size of the area and the scale and depth of the process, but it must be a consideration.
  • Representative – The size of the IE planning team will vary but should be broadly representative of the constituency groups that will be the subject of strategic equity and inclusion actions and measures.

Planning Resources


Contact:

Rachel Spraker

Senior Director for Equity & Inclusive Excellence
Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights
ras7c@Virginia.edu
434-243-6439