Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Roger Williams University has named Stephanie Akunvabey, an equity and institutional change leader, to serve as the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer.
Find more information on how to contact RWU's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team during this challenging time of Covid-19, here
How RWU is Taking Action to Confront Racism
Read President Ioannis Miaoulis's message to the RWU community in the wake of recent murders in the Black community.
Diversity, equity and inclusion are institutional core values at RWU. The 2014 Vision project established DEI as a unifying thread through the institution’s core purpose of being the University the World Needs Now, and its six vision goals.
In 2017, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was established under an inaugural Vice President to serve as a catalyst for our institutional DEI efforts, amplifying long-standing efforts across RWU campuses. In the 2019-20 academic year, Institutional planning processes - including the Strategic Action Planning process and Equity Action Plan development - reaffirmed these values and institutional direction.
Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives include macro initiatives that embed equity into all our university operations, and targeted initiatives that support the retention, empowerment and thriving of minority students and employees.
Equity Action Plan
The Equity Action Plan kicked off with the Thriving RWU 2030 summit in January 2018. The outcomes of the summit were created by five task forces through an iterative process with feedback at each stage and lots cross-taskforce conversation. The campus provided feedback on the draft of the plan in April 2019 and the Board of Trustees in May 2019. After feedback was incorporated, a soft implementation of critical initiatives such as the RGA Leadership Academy, the Pathway to Purpose and the Bias Education group began while the formal launch waited to get in sync with the timeline of the strategic action planning process. The three-year plan is focused on the development of critical mass, capacity building and culture change, and was formally launched on Feb. 21, 2020.
During the last year, a focus on data disaggregation and intersection has occurred to support the development of an Diversity Scorecard, which will help evaluate our progress and the impact of our interventions. The first scorecard has been released.
Here's a look at our 2020 Diversity Scorecard: Learn More
Thriving RWU 2030: A Summit on Diversity and Inclusion
On Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, more than 300 students, faculty, staff and members of the greater community participated in an intensive and inspiring day-long workshop to envision a more inclusive and equitable future at RWU. Groups in five areas: Student Access and Success; Employee Access and Success; Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations; Education, Scholarship and Service; and Infrastructure (Leadership, Capacity, Systems and Organizational Change) produced a range of ideas to align values to outcomes.
Education, Scholarship & Service
The Diversity and Inclusion Fellows program is a peer-mentoring community of practice that recognizes, fosters and supports professional growth around diversity, social justice and inclusion in the classroom. This community is intended to be a space of professional growth where faculty can grapple with tough questions about pedagogies of inclusion, and develop and refine practices for centering equity-minded and inclusive practices in courses across all disciplines. Ultimately, faculty in this community examine best practices literature and engage in workshops with an aim to develop pedagogical philosophies and approaches to teaching that de-center dominant identities, challenge institutional violence, and minimize hostile environments for minoritized students.
RWU's innovative intercultural training certification program designed to develop employees as peer facilitators and champions. The program includes 25 hours of conversations related to the personal, cultural and societal aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion, with 18 hours required to be certified. The program is open to all interested members of the Roger Williams University community who are willing to commit to their own development and assist in the development of others on campus and by nomination of managers.
Employee Access, Success & Equity
Every search committee has an equity ambassador: Trained employees who support equitable search processes and serve as full member of the search committee but do not vote. Equity ambassadors serve as process consultants and partners throughout the search process.
Search committee members also participate in unconscious bias training to support an effective search process.
Reviving a long beloved tradition, this annual event recognizes women who go above and beyond to support gender equity on campus.
Climate and Intergroup Relations
To help create a diverse and inclusive institution, affinity groups provide a space for people with shared identities. The groups provide a safe and confidential space for members to support and learn from each other. Some affinity groups such as the Employees of Color and Queer and Trans affinity groups participate in informal gatherings. The Women’s Affinity Group is RWU’s formal affinity group. The group is comprised of three caucuses: Faculty Caucus, Women in Senior Leadership Caucus and Millennial/Staff caucus. The Women’s Affinity Group has enriched the campus in many ways through professional development offerings, advocacy, mentoring events and the women@rwu conference.
Roger Williams University and Roger Williams University School of Law do not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis in admission to, access to, employment in, and treatment in its programs and activities.
RWU recognizes that some members of the campus community may prefer to identify themselves by a first name other than their legal first name. Under our Chosen Name Policy, students and employees may designate a chosen or preferred first name in addition to the legal name, for use where possible in the course of University business and education.
RWU strives to create an atmosphere of mutual respect that allows community members to live, study, and/or work together in an environment conducive to personal and academic growth. The purpose of this protocol is to ensure that students are aware of their rights, responsibilities, and options when they have experiences that interfere with these values, particularly related to bias.
In May 2019, the Board of Trustees approved the creation of a Board Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee to ensure that DEI is strategically engaged with at all levels of the organization and embedded in all critical institutional decisions. The charge of the board is as follows:
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee shall consult with the President and the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer and shall be responsible for reviewing and advising on the goals, plans and activities that embed equity and inclusion into all campus operations and ensure the all campus stakeholders represent the diversity of the region and nation.
The DEI committee will be responsible for building the capacity of the Board to lead on matters related to diversity, equity and inclusion; reviewing the annual equity scorecard; informing the Board about progress towards our equity goals and supporting needed adjustments based on assessment and evaluation. The DEI committee shall engage with other committees to ensure that the Board is able to lead the Institution effectively through demographic, technological and business model changes and that there is synergistic alignment between mission, revenue and diversity, equity and inclusion goals and across all areas of the campus: Undergraduate, Graduate, School of Law and University College. The DEI committee will help RWU develop a statewide, regional and national reputation for diversity, equity and inclusion excellence and help DEI be a distinguisher for RWU among its peer and aspirant institutions by supporting thought leadership, innovation and convening in this area.
The RGA Leadership Academy is part of the President Miaoulis' initiative on talent development for a changing world. The academy is to designed to build the capacity of mid- and senior-level managers while supporting a diverse leadership pipeline. In addition to building core technical competencies, participants will unpack the unique challenges faced by minoritized individuals in the workplace and on the leadership journey. Participants from represented backgrounds will also gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by underrepresented colleagues and develop inclusive leadership competencies, allyship, and sponsorship skills to support equity in in the workplace.
RWU is among 24 member institutions in the Leading for Change Higher Education Diversity Consortium housed at Bridgewater State University, which focuses on hopeful and data driven practices to close opportunity and achievement gaps. Group members are focused on student access, success and equity metrics, and serve as a resource to other bodies on campus. Additionally, the group identified several research questions that it wanted to take on, including the impact of various high-impact practices and support services on student success. RWU is the consortium's only Rhode Island member institution.
RWU is an open, accepting and affirming community of citizen scholars. At RWU, students connect with folks of many different backgrounds from around the country and around the world.
Disability, among other things, is an issue of diversity, inclusion and civil rights.
Student Accessibility Services at Roger Williams University primarily supports inclusion for students with disabilities in the academic and physical environment; we are also committed to promoting and supporting you in the richness of your personal identity, as part of the diversity and inclusion efforts at Roger Williams University.
The University's commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus extends to all religious faiths, with spiritual life viewed as an integral part of a student's holistic development. For those from a specific faith tradition or for those in spiritual, ethical, and philosophical exploration, growth can occur both as an individual and within community. RWU encourages multi-faith learning and dialogues, service experiences, community building, and justice seeking within campus life and beyond.
The College Map Summer Camp program is a joint initiative of Ernst & Young LLP and Roger Williams University. The goal of this summer camp experience is to provide support to the college and career goals of under-served and underrepresented students as they consider and work toward their dreams of higher education and a meaningful, fulfilling and impactful career.
RWU's roadmap for the future of the University, developed with input from an array of voices from the campus and the community.
Roger Williams University School of Law provides a rigorous education, in a supportive atmosphere, in order to equip its graduates to successfully practice in a fast-changing, and diverse, world. Twenty-seven percent of our first-year students come from racial and ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in the legal community.
At UC, our goal is to meet students where they are and help build a path to their success. Whatever age, whatever demands and challenges students face, whatever education and career paths students have or haven't taken, we will work with them to break barriers and find opportunity. Whether students are looking to earn a degree or just get some job training, University College ensures that all learners and communities are supported with pathways, programs, supports, and services that meet their educational needs.