Charting a Path Forward

Carol E. Henderson | Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion | Chief Diversity Officer | Adviser to the President

It has been wonderful getting to know the Emory community. Now nearly a year into my tenure, my time here has been full of the flurry of meetings, activity planning, and community engagement with faculty, staff, and students and all done with a sense of urgency as I recognize that we are at a crucial intersection in the university's journey.

One Emory: Engaged for Impact

One Emory, the powerful metaphor fueling our strategic framework, One Emory: Engaged for Impact, affords us the opportunity to reflect on its most critical premise that we abandon our silos and take fuller advantage of the rich intellectual capital we have in each other. This is intentional work and provides our campus significant opportunities to develop shared understandings of the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and its importance in building an inclusive campus community. Our collective interest in realizing diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of our institution is palpable. Some of this work is done at local levels in departments, colleges, schools, and academic units. Some of this work is ably done by us centrally here in DEI including the departments of Title IX and Accessibility Services as well as the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, Campus Life, and in partnership with other units whose subject matter expertise aligns with the principles and values of an inclusive and equity-minded diverse campus community.

Where We're Going

I look forward to harnessing this energy as we chart a path forward. One Emory does not mean same Emory, so how do we align our ongoing efforts regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion with this vision? How do we anchor our DEI work in the foundational principles germane to our institutional values, principles, and mission? Diversity and Inclusion, to me, will never be about numbers or ticking off boxes. We think that we have achieved the goal when we make our environments diverse, but that is the second step.

First, we need to prepare our campus to receive community members in ways that allow people to bring their whole selves to engage and work on our campus. So, inclusion is about creating space in which faculty, staff, and students can thrive, where they feel appreciated and can see themselves in the images, traditions, and culture of the campus community. As I continue to build bridges, relationships, and collaborative opportunities within the university, Emory Healthcare, the School of Medicine, and the Emory enterprise more broadly, and as I continue to connect and engage members of the larger metropolitan Atlanta area, three critical areas have bubbled up in my many conversations.

Key Areas of Focus

These will be areas our office will focus on: Climate and Culture, Professional Development and Education Awareness, and Accountability. These areas will allow us to direct intentional and concentrated efforts as we engage for impact in diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, we need to know what we are already doing so that we can measure our progress. We are currently in the process of launching a diversity inventory survey (in partnership with Institutional Research) that will track what is being done in key areas of recruitment and retention, climate and culture, professional development and education awareness so that we can coordinate, benchmark, measure, and strengthen those efforts in more efficient and deliberate ways.

We have already begun to do more of this work in the Office of Equity and Inclusion. We renamed our office: we now will be known as the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to align our equity practices with the work of diversity and inclusion. The departments of Equity and Inclusion, Accessibility Services, and Title IX will continue to do their excellent work in compliance with a renewed focus on professional development and educational opportunities that enhance our community's knowledge in these fields. We will continue our Equity Exchanges, our partnerships with key stakeholders at every level of campus, as well as develop more programming and educational opportunities to engage our community in the work of DEI. I am developing a strategic vision for our diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in partnership with the Emory community that will drive this work.

It is heartening to me that my position was created not just by leadership but also by the community, whose members had substantial input into the work that my office now will do. My arrival is therefore a community arrival, which is a great way to enter a new space. I thank you for that warm welcome and your many wonderful words of affirmation. I look forward to our journey ahead.