A Roadmap to Inclusive Excellence

Utah State University is commited to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive institutional culture. Building and maintaining a sense of community, belonging, and success requires that diversity, equity and inclusion best practices, systems, and policies be engrained in every aspect of our work and interactions. We aspire to be an institution that is welcoming and supportive to all.

Context

USU President Noelle E. Cockett created the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in the spring of 2019. The task force included faculty and staff across USU campuses to help guide the university’s efforts in fostering a diverse and inclusive university system. The task force and working groups were charged with conducting a campus climate assessment on university inclusion, developing a five-year strategic plan for diversity and inclusion at USU, convening key players on a regular basis to oversee implementation of the strategic plan, and producing annual progress reports to monitor effectiveness of the plan.

The campus climate assessment was conducted in the fall of 2019 and results were published in the summer of 2021. According to the survey results, students with an underrepresented identity status reported a lower sense of belonging on campus. In addition, students with a disability, LGBTQIA+ students, students of color, and international students reported feeling significantly less safe in the classroom and found USU to be less welcoming. Likewise, survey results also showed that staff and faculty with underrepresented identities found USU less inclusive.

As part of the strategic planning process, task force members identified a presidential cabinet-level leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion as an essential need. This position and supporting positions were approved by President Cockett in the summer of 2021.

Cultivating a culture of inclusion requires that we all understand the complexities of organizational change, and the need for a well-coordinated institutional infrastructure, collaboration and shared responsibility.

Jane Irungu, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

USU's mission as a land-grant institution is to expand postsecondary opportunities to individuals typically excluded from higher education. This is our roadmap for inclusion, which creates a learning and working environment where everyone feels they belong and where everyone can thrive.

Noelle E. Cockett, President, Utah State University

Inclusion Efforts

Since becoming president in January 2017, Cockett has prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has led USU in efforts to create the Latinx Cultural Center; develop the annual Inclusive Excellence Symposium; expand staffing, funds and gathering space for the USU Inclusion Center; create the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research; provide additional space and resources to the Veterans Resource Center; double the staffing of the Office of Equity; and expand the impact of the Aggies Think Care Act initiative.

In 2020, the Utah Women and Leadership Project moved to USU, and Susan Madsen was hired as the inaugural Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, with a segment of her role designated for working with Extension. The Utah Women & Leadership Project works to strengthen the impact of Utah girls and women.

On July 1, 2022, Dr. Jane Irungu was hired as USU’s inaugural vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She will guide the implementation of the DEI strategic plan in collaboration with the DEI Council and USU leadership.

Strategic Goals

To further inclusion efforts, the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is committed to addressing key strategic goals.

Review DEI Strategic Goals