Grinnell Joins Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance

November 12, 2020
USC Race and Equity Center

On Nov. 9, 2020, the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center announced the launch of the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance.  

Grinnell is one of 51 Alliance member institutions whose faculty and staff will be afforded opportunities for learning, growth, and change created by the Alliance’s resources.   

Racial Equity eConvening Series

Beginning in Jan. 2021, the Center will host a dozen eConvenings, each on a particular aspect of racial equity. These live, synchronous professional learning experiences will be held virtually throughout the year, one per month. Three-hour learning sessions, each on a different topic, will be delivered by highly-respected leaders of national higher education associations, tenured professors who study race relations and people of color, chief diversity officers, and other experienced administrators and specialists from the Center. 

The sessions will focus mostly on strategies and practical approaches. While credible research will undergird them, sessions will not be too theoretical, uselessly abstract, or inaccessibly academic. These three-hour synchronous learning experiences will be highly engaging and interactive. Instructors will use contemporary cases of equity dilemmas and racial crises on liberal arts college campuses. Emphasis will be placed on learning from sagas that have recently occurred elsewhere; learning how to get ahead of situations and reducing risk of crisis; and learning actionable equity leadership strategies. Attendees will return to work that same day with shareable tools and resources. 

Virtual Equity Resource Portal

The Center is developing an online repository of resources and tools for Alliance member colleges. Downloadable equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, slide decks, and conversation scripts will be included in the portal. Every employee across all levels (custodians, food service professionals, full-time and adjunct faculty members, admission officers, student affairs professionals, athletic department staff, and the presidents’ cabinet, to name a few) at each Alliance member college will have 24/7 full access to the virtual resource portal. The portal will launch in late-spring 2021. 

Three Campus Climate Surveys

The Center’s National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) has been administered to more than 500,000 students at colleges and universities in every geographic region of the United States. The NACCC is a rigorous, expert-validated quantitative survey that measures belonging and inclusion, the frequency and depth of cross-racial interactions, students’ appraisals of institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion, and other related topics. 

Using the NACCC as our guide, the USC Race and Equity Center is developing a pair of workplace climate surveys for Alliance member colleges: one for staff at all levels, and another for faculty (including full-time, adjunct, and part-time instructors). These two surveys will focus on topics like employees’ perceptions of equitable opportunities for promotion and advancement; mattering and sense of belonging; how different groups of employees differently experience the workplace environment; employees’ encounters with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other –isms at work; employee satisfaction with the College’s responses to reports of abuse, unfair treatment, and climate problems; and appraisals of the institution’s commitment to equity. 

Alliance member colleges will benefit from this trio of campus climate surveys on a three-year rotational basis: the student survey in year one, the faculty survey in year two, and the staff survey in the third membership year. The Center will manage data collection and analysis. 

Presidents United for Racial Equity

Presidents of Alliance member colleges will meet quarterly to share strategies, seek advice, and identify ways to leverage the Alliance for collective impact on racial equity in higher education. In addition, presidents will occasionally come together to craft rapid responses to urgent racial issues confronting the nation. Alliance presidents will collaboratively determine what to do; what to say to their respective campus communities; and what they can communicate in one unified voice to policymakers, journalists, and other audiences. 

Grinnell joins 51 colleges and universities in this new alliance, including several of peer schools: Amherst College, Carleton College, Colorado College, Davidson College, Macalester College, Pomona College, Oberlin College, Reed College, Smith College, St. Olaf College, Swarthmore College, Washington and Lee University, and Williams College.

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