The JEDI Committee presented preliminary data from its listening sessions, surveys and research to the Board of Trustees in February 2021. The data was also presented to the larger Wofford community during a March 11, 2021 town hall. Learn more about the process, committee recommendations and themes from listening sessions and surveys.
JEDI Working Group 5 Update: Policies, Procedures and JEDI Structure
Working Group 5 focuses on policies, procedures and justice, equity, diversity and inclusion structure. We are reviewing polices relevant to hiring, Title IX, bias reporting and the overall structure of the institution’s practices pertaining to those areas. We also are looking closely at possible structural needs to ensure Wofford remains committed to issues pertinent to diversity, equity and inclusivity; long after the work of the JEDI committee ceases.
Some guiding questions that aid in both the development and course of action for our work include:
On issues of Title IX and bias reporting, we tried to understand:
- How does the incident reporting process proceed for students, faculty and staff?
- How is disciplinary action considered and carried out in these incidents and who makes such determination?
For hiring practices:
- How does Wofford seek to identify and ensure a diverse talent pool when hiring? Specifically — (i.e., knowing medium used to advertise for hiring opportunities).
- What is the onboarding process like for new faculty and staff hires? This also includes an exploration of the faculty handbook/manual and the staff handbook manual.
- What training opportunities, specifically those with JEDI focus, are present throughout the year for faculty and staff?
During our exploration process of these areas, we have tried to be diligent in understanding the responsibilities of those charged with oversight in these respective areas.
We also are looking closely at peer institutions, speaking directly with individuals working in the areas associated with our work and looking at trends and data related to higher education and these specific areas.
Many of our peer institutions are engaged in work similar to JEDI’s. While they are currently at different phases in their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, we have noticed that many institutions have a senior diversity official in place — both to elevate the importance and visibility of the role as well expand or bolster the institution’s current efforts and resources to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion objectives. Our analysis and reviews have led us to recommend the hiring of a senior-level diversity official to help Wofford achieve its objectives.
We’ve met with the following internal stakeholders: Amanda Estabrook, Title IX and ADA coordinator; Chee Lee, director of human resources; and Mike Sosulski, provost.
The Wofford community is invited to share thoughts with the group’s leader Dr. Tasha Smith-Tyus (firstname.lastname@example.org). The group's other member is Trustee Greg O’Dell ’92.
JEDI Working Group 4 Update: Enrollment, Recruitment and Marketing
The obvious question for our group is how do we strategically increase BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) student applications and enrollment? To answer that question, we are examining the potential opportunities for enhancing existing recruitment and admission practices and the strategy used in our marketing and communications in light of statewide and national projections of high school graduates. We are also examining Wofford’s benchmark peer and aspirational institutions in relation to their student enrollment and diversity, equity and inclusion recruitment initiatives. We want to establish ambitious, achievable goals for the college.
We are pulling information from JEDI listening sessions, our working group’s listening sessions, reports done by the Office of Admission, Office of Institutional Research, College Board, South Carolina Department of Education, South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, National Student Clearinghouse and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).
Thus far, we’ve met with the following internal stakeholders: Brand Stille, vice president for enrollment; Megan Tyler, director of admission; Crystal Crawford, director of admission marketing and communication and data; and Jo Ann Brasington, vice president of marketing and communications. Working group members have also met the following external stakeholders: high school guidance counselors, college-access professionals, Black alumni and United Methodist superintendents of the Spartanburg and Orangeburg districts.
We are discussing the following initiatives:
- Reevaluate the criteria used in nominations for the Wofford Scholars Program.
- Reassess how test-optional applicants are evaluated.
- Revise how First-Generation Scholarships are packaged.
- Increase the racial and ethnic diversity within the Office of Admission in future hires for open positions.
- Increase the number of pipeline programs and partnerships with college-access organizations.
- Increase the diversity in Bonner Scholar cohorts.
- Develop strategies to increase enrollment of Latinx and Asian students.
- Develop alumni partnership program to help recruit and guide prospective students through the college application process.
We welcome input from members of the Wofford community. That input will assist in the working group’s efforts. We encourage the Wofford community to reach out to Arsenio Parks, senior assistant director in admission and diversity recruitment and initiatives coordinator (email@example.com). Other members of the working group include Trustee Joyce Yette and the Rev. Dr. Ron Robinson, Perkins-Prothro Chaplain and professor of religion.
We are working to complete the data collection process and begin analysis. We are also planning for and scheduling additional listening sessions. The data and information collected will be used to establish recommendations and strategies for achieving our goals.
Our working group efforts are to build upon the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives taken by the admission and enrollment team.
JEDI Working Group 3 Update: Student Life
The arena of student life is broad, but our working group has been focusing on Greek Life, student athletic experiences, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) student organizations, diverse religious organizations and inclusion efforts across campus.
The guiding principles of our exploration are equity and inclusion. What are the apparent and unknown inequities within the student life experience? Do BIPOC students have the necessary support to thrive? What are the gaps and what measures can be put in place to fill them? What best practices can we learn from our peer institutions?
Our information is being gathered through research led by students and the working group. We also are participating in listening sessions with several groups within Wofford’s community.
Thus far we have met with Interim Director of Student Activities Talicia Murphy, Dean of Students Roberta Hurley and Assistant Dean for Student Involvement Matt Hammett, and have sat in on numerous listening sessions with student groups, including Bonner Scholars, Wofford Anti-Racism Coalition and Gateway Scholars. All of the sessions have provided valuable information on steps that can be taken to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment. We have other listening sessions scheduled with athletics and other student groups.
It is important that the voices of many are heard and we encourage folks in the Wofford community to contact the group’s leader, James Stukes (firstname.lastname@example.org), coordinator for college access and student success, for an opportunity to share their thoughts. Other members of the group include Trustee Chris Carpenter; Arsenio Parks, senior assistant director in admission and diversity recruitment and initiatives coordinator; Dr. Jameica Hill, chair of the chemistry department and faculty athletics representative; and Jurnee Jones ‘21, a Campus Union senior delegate.
JEDI Working Group 2 Update: Curriculum, Teaching and Advising
Dr. Christine Sorrell Dinkins (lead), Kenan Professor of Philosophy; Dr. Begoña Caballero, dean of diversity and inclusion, associate professor of Spanish; Dylan Goshorn ’22, vice president of Campus Union; Dr. Trina Janiec Jones, associate provost for curriculum and co-curriculum, professor of religion; Dr. Dan Mathewson, associate provost for faculty development, associate professor of religion.
Our working group has explored questions of pedagogy, classroom environment, curriculum (general education and majors), student success, student preparation gaps (especially in STEM), advising (general education and major), equity-focused professional development for faculty and staff, and better accountability and structures to ensure equity in the student academic experience. To inform our process, members of this group have met with Dr. Carol Wilson ’81, who coordinates the general education advising program; Dr. John Miles and Dr. Ben Bryan, Office of Institutional Research; academic department chairs and representatives of the biology department. We also received input and information from Dr. Boyce Lawton, dean for student success, and Amy Lancaster ’01, dean of international programs. In addition, Dr. Jones met with Campus Union officers and with members of WARC (Wofford Anti-Racism Coalition) in her capacity as associate provost over the summer; she shared information from these meetings with the rest of the working group. We have worked with the Office of Institutional Research to gather information about student achievement and persistence rates, including DFWI data (the rate of D and F grades, withdrawals and incompletes), along with enrollment in majors, disaggregated by race, ethnicity and Pell-eligible status, with a particular focus on courses that serve as gateways to majors or career paths.
Informed by conversations with students and colleagues, we are in the process of discussing a variety of curricular initiatives to present to the JEDI committee and, if approved, present to the faculty for consideration. These initiatives include:
- A general education requirement for Race & Ethnicity (R&E) specific to the U.S., analogous to the current Cultures & Peoples requirement.
- The creation of race, ethnicity and equity-focused course modules or courses for all majors.
- Curriculum design and professional development to allow for more thoughtful diversity and inclusion teachings in all FYI (First Year Interaction Seminar) courses and first-year orientation.
Our data gathering and sharing is still in process. Some of our outstanding goals include:
- Noting inequities evidenced in the data at a general and department level.
- Presenting these data to the JEDI committee and to the faculty to provide groundwork for a conversation about what faculty can do, individually and collectively, to improve equity in our academic program.
- Gathering data on how much of our current general education and overall curriculum is focused on white colonial Western knowledge and history.
We will work with Institutional Research on this question and ask departments to share what they already offer or are working on that involves R&E – for instance courses, course modules, courses that involve BIPOC authors, exploration of inclusive pedagogies, R&E history relevant to the discipline.
In our focus on advising, we discussed with department chairs some of the work individual departments are doing to address advising concerns and offered support of this work including help from committee consultants and looking into funding for professional development opportunities specific to major advising. Our discussions of advising have considered topics such as: How to implement diversity and inclusion guidelines/training for all advisors; what structures and policies would ensure equitable practices and accountability for advisors; an understanding of advising as teaching, and the need for advisors to receive professional development on relationship-building, knowledge of resources for student support, framing of conversations and a growth mindset. As one outgrowth of these conversations with faculty and the provost, the provost has committed to funding professional development in summer 2021 for a group of faculty across STEM in health fields to develop a model for major and career advising.
In the Spring semester, we will be soliciting input from departments on their ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives, and we will invite faculty and staff to share suggestions and concerns regarding equity in Wofford’s academic program.
JEDI Working Group 1 Update: History, Memory, Place
This message is from Dr. Ramón Galiñanes Jr. (lead), director of undergraduate research and post-graduate fellowships; the Hon. Costa Pleicones ’65, retired chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court; and the Rev. Dr. Ron Robinson ’78, Perkins-Prothro Chaplain and Professor of Religion
During these past few weeks, the working group has been engaged in conducting listening sessions and reviewing Wofford’s campus landscape and history. Considering a petition to change the names of three residence halls named for presidents William M. Wightman, Albert M. Shipp and James H. Carlisle, all of whom owned enslaved people, is one of several important topics of discussion and debate. Our group is also considering the college’s cultural/historic symbols and the way we tell the story of our past in authentic ways. We are asking two primary questions: How do we, as a community, more thoughtfully engage and reckon with Wofford’s past, especially its ties to slavery? And, how do we, at the same time, re-imagine our changing campus landscape not only to reckon with this past but also highlight the stories of women, people of color and other historically unrepresented groups that have made Wofford what it is today?
These are complex questions that require serious deliberation as well as engagement with a variety of experts and different stakeholders. JEDI has convened several sessions to listen to students and alumni and will continue these sessions as well as others adding faculty, staff and community partners through the winter and into the spring.In addition, our working group has met separately with Dr. Phillip Stone ’94, Wofford’s archivist; Dr. Kim Rostan, associate professor of English, coordinator of the college’s intercultural studies major and co-coordinator of the African and African-American Studies Program; Robert Mickle ’85, leader in the Black Alumni Association; Vickie Muller ’83, leader in the Black Alumni Association; and Dr. Steve O’Neil, a professor at Furman University and the lead historian of the “Seeking Abraham Project.” We also have plans to talk with Janice Means ’73 and Gwendolyn Lawrence ’73, two of the college’s first African-American women graduates; Dr. Dwain Pruitt ’95, professor and an assistant dean at the University of Louisville, who did research as a student on college and Spartanburg history; and Wofford presidents emeritus Dr. Joe Lesesne and Dr. Bernie Dunlap.
All of these people and perspectives will help inform our research and recommendations as we prepare to present to the Wofford College Board of Trustees during the February and May 2021 meetings.
For more information about the Strategic Vision for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, visit Wofford.edu/strategicvision.