Diversity at a Small College: From Vision to Practice

By Nelson Bingham.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This case study provides a model for small academic institutions, including articulation
of a mission-related vision statement that defines and explains diversity aspirations in
terms of both justice and educational purposes. This model is implemented through
creation of an organizational structure for regularly monitoring progress toward those
aspirations and using that information to reinforce and/or re-shape policies and
practices that reflect the institutional vision. Earlham College is a Quaker learning
community that operates through a participatory governance process involving both
consensus decision-making and widespread consultation. In 2002, a Diversity
Aspirations Vision Statement was crafted, defining the goals of diversity as incorporating
traditionally underrepresented groups in the life of the college, not only for reasons of
justice but also as an essential foundation for effective liberal education for the 21st
century. The educational rationale for emphasizes inclusivity – in addition to race,
ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status, it includes political,
religious, cultural, recreational interest and other forms of diversity. A key to effective
pursuit of this vision is a Diversity Progress Committee, with a charge to collect data to
assess ongoing progress toward the goals of the vision statement and to use those data to
formulate recommendations for all college units regarding steps needed to achieve
further progress. The implementation and ongoing work of this model has served to
heighten community consciousness of diversity, to build support for Earlham’s diversity
aspirations and to provide a means of continuing education of all community members
about diversity. An important feature of this model is the periodic assessment of the
effectiveness of this institutional structure, allowing for its further refinement.

Keywords: Diversity, College, Vision, Practice

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp.133-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 608.377KB).

Dr. Nelson Bingham

Provost and Professor of Psychology, Office of the President, Department of Psychology, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, USA

I have been a professor of psychology at Earlham College for 35 years, teaching developmental and cross-cultural psychology. Much of my research has focused on Japan. In recent years, I have been serving as Provost of the College, responsible for supporting the President in all areas of college administration. One particular role has been to chair our Diversity Progress Committee, focusing on developing and implementing a Diversity Aspirations Vision Statement, including ongoing monitoring of progress and using evaluation data to affirm and/or re-shape institutional strategies to better achieve our diversity goals.


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