A Roadmap To Inclusive Excellence


This document provides a roadmap to advance Utah State University’s commitment 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.


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.

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.

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 of Utah State University


Roadmap Overview

This plan outlines three major goals to provide a roadmap to inclusive excellence. Under each goal, there are objectives and suggested strategies. The strategies are intentionally written with some generality to allow the responsible colleges, schools, departments, and administrative units to determine what is most effective. Each unit should also identify their own action steps/tactics in alignment with the suggested strategies.


Goal 1

Goal 1

Create an Inclusive and Equitable Campus Community

Goal 2

Goal 2

Recruit, Retain, and Cultivate a Diverse Student Population

Goal 3

Goal 3

Recruit, Retain, and Develop Diverse Faculty and Staff

Goal 1: Create An Inclusive & Equitable Campus Community

Objective 1.1: Provide greater leadership, support, coordination, and oversight for university diversity and inclusion initiatives on the Logan campus, USU Eastern, statewide campuses, and centers.

  • Create a new vice president position and office to integrate and maximize existing university systemwide resources and initiatives around diversity and inclusion. Create a phased approach for a new reporting structure (both formal and informal) for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work.
  • Create an advisory board to support the efforts of the vice president for DEI and ensure implementation across the university system.
  • Create an accountability structure in each administrative office and academic unit for meeting DEI goals.
  • Evaluate resources, initiatives, trainings, and programs that promote and support diversity and inclusion efforts for unmet needs, particularly in light of the campus climate survey results.
  • Provide educational opportunities to leadership teams on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Review the Equity Lens Framework from the Utah System of Higher Education and consider a tailored framework for USU decision making.

Objective 1.2: Provide learning opportunities for students to develop multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills.

  • Implement a diversity-related general education requirement, with attention to advancing knowledge, supporting skills building, and enhancing self-awareness.
  • Develop a strategy for diversity education for graduate students in collaboration with the School of Graduate Studies.
    • Find a place in the first-year graduate training workshop for more specific education on the topics of diversity and inclusion (alongside the sexual harassment and other required trainings).
  • Find ways to recognize student involvement in diversity-related coursework and activities (e.g., minor and transcript notation).
  • Map diversity-related courses in all colleges to identify areas of need and consider cross-department collaborations and the creation of a university fund for diversity course development within departments.

Objective 1.3: Increase multicultural consciousness and competency of faculty and staff.

  • Provide education on diversity issues and inclusiveness to all employees. Ensure employees can participate during work time and find ways to incentivize participation.
    • Identify and communicate opportunities and resources that address unique challenges faced by BIPOC faculty.
  • Offer resources and training to address basic diversity issues in the classroom, including inclusiveness in teaching materials and practices (e.g., a workshop at the annual Empowering Teaching Excellence (ETE) conference).
    • Develop programming to support evidence-based inclusive teaching. 

Objective 1.4: Enhance communications on the institution’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Provide a statement of inclusion and promote its use in job advertisements, syllabi, and Canvas.
  • Offer the land acknowledgement statement for use on syllabi and in Canvas.
  • Review the university mission statement and statement of mission fulfillment for greater emphasis on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in learning, discovery, and engagement.
  • Critically evaluate university marketing to ensure it meets best practices for inclusive marketing. Improve communications about existing diversity, equity, and inclusion resources and programs on campus.
  • Improve communications on USU’s policies and resources related to bias and discrimination to the USU community, in cooperation with university communications and the Office of Equity. In addition, develop more specific sanctioning guidelines for faculty, staff, and students for discrimination and discrimination-related retaliation.
  • Assess needs for multilingual recruiting and marketing resources, including major information handouts, web presence, and social media.

Objective 1.5: Improve inclusiveness in external communities where USU campuses and centers reside.

  • Continue to support and allocate resources for USU-community partnership events and programming that address diversity, equity, and inclusion in Cache Valley, Price, Blanding, and other Statewide Campuses.
  • Improve involvement of USU students, faculty, and staff in university-driven diversity, equity, and inclusion events, as speakers and participants.
  • Create a shared calendar of DEI-related events (lectures, trainings, activities, programs, etc.).
  • Review how the milestones and achievements of marginalized groups are recognized and celebrated at USU.
  • Endeavor to attract a diverse vendor pool when engaging in the competitive purchasing process.

Objective 1.6: Improve accessibility and inclusiveness in policies, procedures, forms, and general information.

  • Develop and implement best practices for university policies, inclusive surveys, application forms, and templates, etc.
  • Review USU policies through the equity lens framework (to be created under Objective 1.1).
  • Promote best practices for online accessibility of USU materials and information.
  • Develop best practices for translation of USU information and materials into languages other than English and effective communication of this information.

Goal 2: Recruit, Retain, & Cultivate a Diverse Student Population

Objective 2.1: Increase enrollment of undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented populations.

  • Create and maintain a transparent data tool that tracks the composition of underrepresented students at USU over time and provides comparisons to state population demographic data.
  • Actively recruit and support diverse Admissions officers, recruiters, leaders and directors (admissions staff at large) including those with multilingual capabilities, cultural competency, etc.
  • Recruit and develop student leaders (e.g., Ambassadors, A-Team) that are representative of a diverse student body. Identify and remove barriers in student leadership position requirements (GPA thresholds, time requirements, etc.).
  • Improve coordination between USU offices to ensure greater alignment for student recruiting events that target underrepresented students. For example, coordinate recruiting events by the Admissions Office with the Latinx Cultural Center and the Financial Aid Office.
  • Ensure cultural humility, consciousness, and competency of student success staff.
  • Actively recruit and support a diversity of graduate student leaders who can influence recruitment and marketing campaigns.
  • Allocate resources for departments to pay for travel for on-campus visits to attract more diverse graduate students.

Objective 2.2: Increase the retention, persistence, and graduation rates for underrepresented students.

  • Actively recruit, hire, and support a greater number of diverse faculty, staff, representatives, and student leaders including those with multilingual capabilities and cultural humility.
  • Strengthen and promote mentoring and leadership development programs for diverse students.
  • Promote and support student associations and organizations that build a sense of belonging and community.
  • Encourage universal design in all aspects of the university system to establish the practice of creating inclusive and equitable programing, learning, research, and community engagement.

Goal 3: Recruit, Retain, & Develop Diverse Faculty and Staff

Objective 3.1: Increase a sense of inclusion and belonging for faculty and staff from underrepresented populations.

  • Create and maintain a transparent data tool that tracks composition of faculty, staff, and administrators from historically underrepresented, minoritized and marginalized groups in order to track changes
    over time.
    • Create public-facing and internal interactive DEI data dashboards.
  • Ensure opportunities for diverse voices and experiences to be represented (including those from Statewide Campuses) in USU events and presentations.
  • Continue to support and allocate resources for the Inclusive Excellence Symposium, socials, and other diversity-related networking across the USU system to support faculty and staff from historically underrepresented, minoritized, and marginalized populations.
  • Build and sustain supportive systems that reflect best practices to facilitate faculty transition and foster a sense of belonging
    • Establish/support affinity groups for faculty (women; Black, Indigenous, and people of color; caregivers, faculty with disabilities, LGBTQA+).
    • Ensure connections to affinity groups during recruitment/hiring process. 

Objective 3.2: Review evaluation and promotion policies and practices to minimize bias affecting faculty and staff.

  • Establish centrally organized measures to ensure access to sample tenure and promotion materials.
  • Reduce reliance on anonymous student evaluations of faculty. Develop alternative evaluation methods.
  • Develop ways of recognizing faculty and staff work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the regular review, tenure, and promotion processes.
    • Incorporate DEI impact into faculty evaluations similar to the language added to faculty code and role statements regarding “community engagement.”
    • Revise role statements to reflect DEI activities in research, teaching, extension, service, and administration.
  • Develop mentoring program for each area of the role statements.
  • Provide professional development for department heads and supervisors on inclusive evaluation practices. 

Objective 3.3: Improve recruitment procedures, resources, and information.

  • Attract a more diverse applicant pool by allocating resources for departments to pay to advertise positions more widely and provide for travel to on-campus interviews, when needed.
  • Develop a toolkit on best practice for inclusive hiring and provide education to supervisors and search committees.
    • Require bias training for search committees.
    • Require deans and vice presidents to work with human resources to ensure applicant pool is diverse (e.g., representative of national availability in the field) before approving campus interviews.
  • Evaluate how USU Policy 385.1.1 (Dual Career Assistance) can be communicated and applied to better support recruitment of a more diverse faculty and staff pool. Seek necessary resources to support these efforts.
  • Develop programs to recruit and support underrepresented faculty and staff, including cluster hiring.
  • Improve USU’s recruitment standard job application template, website, and resources. Consider creating a faculty-specific recruitment website and marketing targeted to faculty audiences.
    • Create website or guide regarding housing and other information that addresses common concerns for new faculty.