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New ACE Brief Calls for Strategic Diversity Leadership in Higher Education

June 05, 2013

Diversity Matters


A brief available today from ACE asserts that diversity on college campuses is no longer just a question of moral and social responsibility but is critical in enabling students to achieve excellence and gain competitive advantages in the 21st century knowledge economy.

A Matter of Excellence: A Guide to Strategic Diversity Leadership and Accountability in Higher Education is the fourth and final installment in ACE’s Diversity Matters in U.S. Higher Education issue brief series, which is generously supported by the GE Foundation. Damon A. Williams, vice provost and chief diversity officer for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote the brief.

A Matter of Excellence looks at the evolving ideas of diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education; explores a model for strategic diversity leadership; and examines systems of accountability and performance management for these efforts.

“The powerful ideas in this brief will give presidents the means to explore what diversity really means on campus and, in the long term, develop better learning environments,” said Kim Bobby, director of ACE's Inclusive Excellence Group. “The GE Foundation, with its support of this brief and the rest of the series, has shown an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion in higher education.” 

“It is critical for senior institutional leaders to take a strategic approach in forging a diverse campus environment,” said Williams, the brief’s author. “It is just as critical to realize that in an ever more competitive and interwoven global economy, the educational benefits of diversity flow to all students.”

Among the brief's highlights are:

  • Recommendations for developing a campus definition of diversity, including an overview of terminology typically associated with the concept.
  • An explanation of the strategic diversity leadership model and factors that impact it, including changing demographics, societal and educational inequities, geographic location, fiscal realities, types of leadership and rationales.
  • A list of critical issues for leaders to consider, such as continuing legal threats to race-conscious policy (e.g., Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin), women’s levels of success in STEM fields, the challenges of attending college for young men of color and the educational exclusion of undocumented immigrants.
  • A Strategic Diversity Leadership Scorecard, a multidimensional performance-measurement tool designed to drive change, as well as sample tactics, progress indicators and outcomes leaders can use to inform their work.

The brief advises leaders on five principles of diversity as an artful science, and asserts: “Campus diversity champions, regardless of their institutional role, must be sophisticated in their approach and willing to cut against the grain of tradition, artfully navigating issues both anticipated and unanticipated and applying the best diversity science possible to move the campus diversity agenda.

The brief is free to ACE member presidents and can also be purchased on ACE's website. The Diversity Matters in U.S. Higher Education series is designed to provide campus leaders with timely, cutting-edge and actionable information they can share with the members of their campus community on a broad range of topics revolving around diversity and inclusion in U.S. higher education.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jon Riskind ▪ 202-939-9453 ▪

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