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U.Va. adopts ‘Inclusive Excellence’ framework

The framework intends to assist in guiding and organizing existing diversity and inclusion efforts

The Inclusive Excellence model has been used in postsecondary education since 2005.
The Inclusive Excellence model has been used in postsecondary education since 2005.

University President Jim Ryan and Kevin G. McDonald, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, announced Thursday that the University will be adopting an Inclusive Excellence framework pursuant to the 2030 Plan, which was approved by the Board of Visitors Aug. 2019.

In an announcement sent to the University community, Ryan and McDonald explained that the 2030 Plan — which aims to make U.Va. the best public university in the country — is deeply connected to themes of diversity, equity, inclusion and excellence.

“The framework rests upon the simple foundational principle that excellence and inclusion go hand-in-hand, and that you cannot have one without the other,” the announcement read.

According to the Inclusive Excellence webpage, the goal of the framework is to “bring action and meaningful public accountability” for the University’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts.

The Inclusive Excellence model has been used in postsecondary education since 2005. Inclusive Excellence programs also exist at other Virginia universities, including the College of William & Mary and Virginia Tech.

The framework is organized into five dimensions and is designed as “comprehensive but flexible.” The five areas of focus are Access and Success, Climate and Intergroup Relations, Education and Scholarship, Infrastructure and Investment, and Community and Partnership. Specific definitions for each dimension can be found on the Inclusive Excellence website.

Rachel Spraker, the University’s senior director for Inclusion Excellence, is involved in this framework as an “anchor point,” as the initiative intends to facilitate collaboration between the Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and other offices and organizations across the University.

“The IE framework is intended to be a pathway through which institutions like ours can engage in comprehensive and systemic analysis,” Spraker said. “The focus is structuring critical self-study to identify areas of affirmation and areas of opportunity that may help us on our journey to effect organizational change at the level of the day-to-day functioning and experience of our University.”

Spraker made specific note of the University’s response to President Ryan’s Ours to Shape bicentennial initiative that launched August 2018, stating that “the U.Va. community told us through the Ours to Shape process that equity, inclusion, respect, diversity, innovation and wellbeing are critical to our future.” In response to Ryan’s bicentennial project, Latinx students published a proposal to University administration entitled “Our University to Shape” in October 2018. The proposal called for improved admissions efforts and institutional, academic and financial support for Hispanic and Latinx students.

The Inclusive Excellence website also features a sample timeline, which suggests that implementation of action plans developed by the Inclusive Excellence team could begin as early as November.

“Our hope is that this framework will help focus inquiry, action, and accountability across Grounds as we strive to make the University a place where all can feel at home and do their very best work,” Ryan and McDonald said.