A new advisory council of 20 representatives from across the University of Wyoming campus will assist Chief Diversity Officer Emily Monago as she and her office update the search committee handbook and develop a diversity-specific strategic plan for UW.
Monago said members of the Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will — in addition to playing an advisory role — serve as partners to her office, making initiatives more likely to succeed by offering input early in the planning process.
“I think they’re going to be very critical for me to help move forward a lot of the diversity initiatives as far as partnerships and coordinating and making sure we’re on the same page,” Monago said. “Through this committee, I hope to engage larger groups of the university community to help develop and work on certain issues.”
The council members, who plan to meet biweekly, include faculty, staff, administrators and students, many of whom are already engaged in diversity initiatives or recruitment and retention efforts at UW.
“It’s a pretty substantial committee, but I think part of that was really trying to get a lot of people at the table, a lot of input,” Monago said. “I want it to reflect the University of Wyoming community.”
Council member and Director of Latina/o Studies Cecelia Aragon said she hopes to bring her perspective to the table, while also supporting the chief diversity officer.
“In the past, there’s been a lot of issues dealing with recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and of diverse students,” Aragon said. “And I think it’s important that we don’t brush it under the rug like we’ve done in the past.”
She added the council must also ensure UW is keeping pace with peer institutions in terms of diversity initiatives — such as the establishment of a chief diversity officer position — and recruiting diverse students.
“We have to keep up with University of Utah, University of Nebraska, University of Colorado-Boulder (and) Colorado State University,” Aragon said. “These are our peer institutions that are just right down the street. And as advisers, it’s our role to stay up with our competitors.”
Monago said the council will assist her in developing a diversity strategic plan, which will complement the university strategic plan approved by the Board of Trustees in July.
“One of the things I don’t want to do is develop that in isolation,” Monago said. “It has to be reflective of the University of Wyoming community. So, that’s a big role of the council.”
She added the council is also providing input on the search committee handbook, which advises those at UW looking to hire faculty or staff regarding the process.
“We’ve added more information on implicit bias, links to other resources (and) also, information about where the search committee can look to cast a broader net,” Monago said.
But the council will also help gather information about diversity initiatives already underway at the university and then to promote those efforts, she said.
“We have some great things going on at the institution,” Monago said. “But we can probably do a better job raising the profile, getting partners, expanding the impact and the scope, utilizing some of these programs to actually reach out to faculty, staff and students across not just the contiguous states, but outside the region.”
The council — which has both undergraduate and graduate student representation — has an obligation to the student body, Aragon said.
“Students, from what I’m hearing, want a diverse student body,” she said. “They want a larger, diverse student body. They want to be able to meet people from different states, from different parts of the world. They want to have that experience here at UW.”
The council met for the first time earlier this month.