The Committee is making six primary recommendations, five of which contain several recommended action steps (or targeted outcomes) to implement the primary recommendation. Appendix A to this Report contains a concordance that indicates where specific recommendations, action steps or targeted outcomes in this Report address issues as they are raised in the seven demand/request sections of the
A. Proactive Engagements with Furman’s Black Constituency: “A Sense of Belonging”
For the reasons discussed in Part III, the Committee recommends (i) that the University commit to proactively pursuing and deepening its engagements with Black students, faculty, staff and alumni, across all relevant dimensions, in order to help create, sustain and enhance “a sense of belonging” by all of them and (ii) that such pursuit be the guiding ethos for the University in seeking to implement and “live” its commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. That ethos should animate all current and future strategies and initiatives of the University, including, without limitation, those identified in Part II.
In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, the Committee further recommends the following action steps or targeted outcomes, which are presented separately for students, faculty and staff (presented together) and alumni, even though some action steps or outcomes are similar for each group.
Engagement with Students
- As a general and overarching matter, the University should be proactive in “thinking outside the historical box” about ways to engage with its Black students in order to cultivate positive and rewarding experiences, recognizing explicitly that the University’s past practices, for whatever reasons, have not worked well.
- The University should acknowledge expressly and publicly that increasing, simultaneously, its enrollment, retention and graduation of Black students is a priority because, among other important reasons, a larger number of Black students on campus will facilitate effective engagement with them and the creation of a sense of belonging by them. The University should also state publicly its targeted goals in this area in order to enhance accountability for its performance.
- The University should proactively seek funding sources – and otherwise act to eliminate de facto access barriers – to allow low-income Black students to participate in more of the high-value experiences offered by The Furman Advantage, such as the Study Away program and certain impactful internships and research programs that require, as a practical matter, a student to have significant personal financial resources in order to participate in them.
- The University should proactively pursue the establishment of mentoring programs that facilitate interactions between Black students, on the one hand, and Black alumni, faculty and staff, on the other hand.
- The University should proactively support the installation and maintenance on campus of local chapters of Black Greek letter organizations, including by developing or enhancing ongoing relationships with local or regional graduate chapters of such organizations.
Engagement with Faculty and Staff
- As a general and overarching matter, the University should establish (or augment existing) systems and processes that enhance the University’s ability to attract a larger pool of diverse applicants for faculty and staff positions, and the University should state publicly its aspirations and targeted goals for increasing significantly its Black faculty and staff.
- Among its strategies and practices, the University should use alternative recruitment measures for Black faculty, such as cluster hiring and targeted opportunity hires, expressly recognizing that the University’s past practices, for whatever reasons, have not worked well.
- In furtherance of the foregoing, the University should expect and encourage its academic departments to identify and access social and professional networks of underrepresented doctoral students and faculty members as part of the departments’ recruitment processes, and the University should consider halting a search if the pool of candidates for a position that should reasonably be expected to attract a diverse pool lacks diversity.
- The University should procure and offer mentoring and other professional growth and advancement guidance to support its Black faculty and staff, such as an institutional membership in the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity.
Engagement with Alumni
- As a general matter, the University’s Office of Alumni Affairs – and the Office of Development as a whole, to the extent required for meaningful accountability – should be directed to develop and implement a strategic plan for commencing and continuing constructive engagements with as many of the University’s Black alumni as possible, expressly recognizing that the University’s past practices, for whatever reasons, have not worked well.
- In connection with the foregoing, the University should ensure that its database of Black alumni is as complete and accurate as reasonably possible, and the University should establish appropriate systems and procedures for updating the database on an ongoing
- The University should act promptly to complete the establishment of the Furman Black Alumni Association as an official University-sanctioned and supported affinity association – on par with other affinity associations of the University – under the direct responsibility of a University Vice President who is empowered to coordinate and implement all actions necessary for it.
- The President should ensure that the Black Alumni Council is fully operational and engaged, and that the products of its engagement are effectively shared with Black alumni generally.
- The University should proactively consider strategies to facilitate increased giving to Furman by its Black alumni. In doing so, the University should encourage thinking outside the historical box and with a long-term perspective that recognizes that the mightiest oak was once a single acorn.
- As indicated in Part IV.D, the University should ensure that it conducts and promotes regularly occurring events that are designed to engage and resonate with its Black alumni.
It cannot be overstated that the above actions and outcomes are illustrative, and not exhaustive, of steps the University should consider in seeking to enhance its engagements with its Black students, faculty, staff and alumni. They are the proverbial food for thought with respect to additional actions the University should seek to identify, vet and implement where feasible.
Moreover, some of the Committee’s recommendations and action steps set forth in other portions of this Report will be helpful in engaging with the University’s Black constituency and creating and enhancing a sense of belonging by them.
B. Coordinated and Systemic Communications
The Committee recommends that the University establish, as a top priority, the development and implementation of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy and plan (the “Diversity Communications Plan”) for communicating important information about the University’s commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. The Diversity Communications Plan should provide for systematic regular
reports (and interim updates of major developments) on all University-announced initiatives and activities relating to such commitments, using communication mediums that have been specifically determined to be highly likely to reach the maximum number of Furman’s Black constituency that is reasonably possible.
In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, the Committee further recommends that the University take the following action steps:
- Create a prominent section on the Furman website – i.e., no more than one click from the homepage, with a link to it included on the website’s respective pages of each academic department and each administrative area – for providing reports and updates about anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion matters in general, with appropriate prominent subdivisions for certain major initiatives, such as the status of the Strategic Diversity Plan, implementation of major recommendations by the Task Force on Slavery and Justice in its “Seeking Abraham” report, upcoming engagement events or activities for Black alumni, and the like.
- Announce and promote conspicuously the schedule for the University’s regular reports on antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion matters.
- Disseminate periodic profile or focus pieces that feature Black students, faculty, staff and alumni and, from time to time, local Black community leaders.
- Hire a student intern to assist with the foregoing.
C. An Empowered and Accountable Administrative Infrastructure
The Committee recommends that the University (i) adjust and augment its senior administrative infrastructure in a manner that assigns to a University Vice President (the “Prescribed VP”) direct ongoing responsibility and authority for the coordination and implementation of all of the University’s various initiatives in pursuit of its commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion, (ii) ensure that the Prescribed VP’s staff, budget allocation and other resources are appropriate to enable performance of that responsibility and (iii) provide that the Prescribed VP’s routine performance review and evaluation by the President includes a specific assessment of that performance.
In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, and without limiting its intentionally broad scope, the Committee further recommends that the University take the following action steps (or reflect the following matters as targeted outcomes):
- Establish an appropriate nexus between the responsibilities and authority of the Prescribed VP and the University’s academic affairs function in order to ensure proper coordination, collaboration and accountability for performance on the University’s commitments.
- Establish an appropriate nexus between the responsibilities and authority of the Prescribed VP and the University’s enrollment function in order to ensure proper coordination, collaboration and accountability for performance on the University’s commitments.
- Establish an appropriate nexus between the responsibilities and authority of the Prescribed VP and the University’s communications function in order to ensure proper coordination, collaboration and accountability for performance on the University’s commitments.
- The Prescribed VP’s responsibilities should include oversight and direction to, and corresponding accountability for the performance of, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
As discussed in Part III, the Committee believes the University will not able to perform on its laudable conceptual commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion unless and until the University’s senior administrative structure reflects the above.
D. Campus Climate and Culture
The Committee recommends that the University undertake, in the spirit that animated its Task Force on Slavery and Justice, a comprehensive research survey and evaluative analysis (the “Culture/Climate Audit”) of the myriad factors that constitute, contribute to or significantly affect or influence the climate and culture at the University for its Black students, faculty, staff and alumni, or that otherwise have significant implications for the development and maintenance of their respective sense of belonging.
In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, and without limiting its intentionally broad scope, the Committee further recommends the following action steps or specific outcomes:
- The Culture/Climate Audit should be conducted by an independent, professional consultant or consulting firm who has substantial experience with such engagements for liberal arts institutions that are committed to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.
- The Culture/Climate Audit should include a review and analysis of all University policies, procedures and practices that have implications for the foregoing primary recommendation, including the matters addressed in sections A, B, C and E of this Part IV.
- The engagement for the Culture/Climate Audit should require providing the University with specific recommendations for corrective or improvement actions.
- Whether through a specific component of a capital campaign or other fundraising initiatives, the University should act to ensure that the initiatives, programs and other functions of the Center for Inclusive Communities is adequately staffed and funded to perform its mission.
- As part of its normal-course orientation regime, the University should institute a “Community Read” program that prescribes strategically-selected books, articles or other materials regarding anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion, and that forms the basis for a required orientation activity for all newly-enrolled students.
- The University’s program for implicit bias and other anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion awareness and training should include modules that require annual participation by all administrative personnel (including the senior administrative team) and all members of the faculty. The President should also consider development of an appropriate module of such awareness and training program for participation by the Board of Trustees on a reasonable periodic basis.
- In the spirit of the plan to erect a statue of Joseph Vaughn on campus, the University should consider the prominent display on campus of additional works of art and other artifacts that reflect Black life or culture.
- The University should develop, and include as a part of its institutional calendar of important events, multiple events each year that are focused on raising awareness of and appreciation for Black culture and experiences.
- Without limiting the foregoing, the University should host periodic public forums (or similarly structured events), at least annually, that feature Black students and/or alumni, and other interested participants as appropriate, to engage in topical discussions about anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion issues or developments. The first such forum (or similar event)
should be announced promptly for a date in 2021 that is as early as practicable in light of logistical considerations because of COVID-19 protocols.
The members of the Committee, like the authors of the Petition, all recognize and applaud the pioneering work and contributions by Dr. Idella Glenn during her long tenure at Furman in positions that equate to being its de facto first diversity officer. Those early efforts by Dr. Glenn were invaluable to Furman’s Black students at those times, and they understandably occupy a special place in the hearts of numerous Black alumni. The University should take specific note of that important reality as it addresses issues relating to its campus climate and culture, and otherwise proactively pursues meaningful and impactful engagements with its Black alumni.
The Committee also recognizes that the naming of a University facility, program or initiative involves numerous considerations and factors, and the Committee did not seek to reach consensus on the Petition’s request that Furman name a Multicultural Affairs Center for Dr. Glenn to honor her exemplary efforts. The Committee believes the important issues underlying that request can and will be addressed appropriately by the University’s implementation of the “sense of belonging” theme and guiding ethos that the Committee is recommending in this Report.
E. Curriculum and Pedagogy
The Committee recommends that the University state expressly that the ongoing evolution of its curriculum and pedagogical requirements and protocols – including, without limitation, the implementation of The Furman Advantage – will reflect in tangible and impactful ways the University’s commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.
In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, the Committee further recommends the following action steps or specific outcomes:
- As alluded to in the Formal Response, the University should proactively pursue and facilitate development of its Interdisciplinary Minor in African American Diaspora Cultures, with the goal of it qualifying (and being successfully sustained) for major degree status as soon as reasonably practicable, which should include identifying, securing and supporting a qualified and dedicated faculty member to spearhead the necessary efforts for that outcome.
- The University should ensure that an appropriate nexus exists between all major components of the University’s academic affairs function and the University’s implementation of its commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion, which nexus reflects the indispensable roles performed by participants in the University’s academic affairs function to the University’s ability to perform on its conceptual commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.
- As being recommended separately in a petition by the Student Diversity Leadership Initiative – which the student members of the Committee brought to its attention – the University should take the steps necessary to establish, as a general education requirement, a course whose subject matter, features diversity, equity and inclusion content perhaps in lieu of one of the two Human Behavior courses currently included in the general education requirements. The University should encourage each academic department to develop a course that is designed to meet this action step.
- The University should take the steps necessary for its Cultural Life Program (CLP) to require that all students complete a minimum percentage of CLP requirements with events that have been specifically approved by the President (or the Prescribed VP) as “diversity, equity and inclusion content events”. (The Committee suggests that the minimum be 25 %.)
- The University should encourage the faculty to include a “community norms” statement in their respective course syllabi, with the goal of helping to create a more inclusive environment in the classroom (and potentially to reduce class conflicts).
F. Use of Some Quantitative Measures
The Petition stated a specific target of 12% for both the University’s enrollment of Black students and the University’s hiring of Black faculty and staff. The Committee did not seek to reach a consensus on recommending that (or any other) specific percentage as the appropriate target for the University with respect to enrollment of students or the hiring of faculty and staff.
There was consensus within the Committee, however, that the University must be able to assess and report on its progress, or its lack of progress, with respect to those important matters in meaningful ways. The Committee recommends, therefore, that the University develop monitoring and assessment criteria and processes that include some quantitative measures, along with qualitative measures, in order to enable the University to evaluate more effectively the performance by its personnel to whom responsibility for such enrollment and hiring matters has been assigned.