College of Communication > About > Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Sunrise over Lincoln Park campus

College of Communication DE&I Action Plan, 2021-22

Updated December 15, 2021

We, the College of Communication, understand that we are tied to and inextricably bound to the systems of racism and inequality that shape our country, higher education, our city and our institution, and in order for these systems to be dismantled, they must be recognized, addressed, interrogated and changed on the level of policy and normalized practices.

As those who study and teach communication, we know our language matters. Words matter for the material conditions they enact and affect. Words matter for what they do, their action, their force. Yet, we understand that words without action are hollow. We are motivated. Our commitments are reaffirmed. And we recognize that we must turn this energy inwards to interrogate the ways we are complicit in these systems.

As a college comprised of faculty, students, staff and administrators, we are committed to the ongoing work of identifying and interrogating prejudice, injustice and institutionalized bias in all forms. Furthermore, we commit to taking the necessary actions to disrupt, denounce, and/or change norms and practices that work to uphold or perpetuate systems of prejudice and inequity in our college, our curriculum and our classrooms.

In April 2020, the college concluded a yearlong cross-college climate research report. Led by our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force, the project surveyed and interviewed students, staff and faculty to identify and then engage areas for improvement. Since then, the college has been actively developing an action plan, addressing practices and policies at all levels of the college. The plan has been processed and shaped through input from the college diversity advocate, the former diversity working group (now a DEI faculty committee), our students, and faculty and staff from across the college. It addresses both short-term and extended goals, and remains a living document that will continually be added to, reflected upon and modified as needed in order to meet the changing needs of all our students, staff and faculty and to foster and promote a supportive, diverse and inclusive environment.

  • The college, led by the college diversity advocate, will form a DE&I faculty committee, with one student representative, to institute a DE&I action plan.
  • The diversity advocate will coordinate meetings with diverse faculty to listen to their specific experiences and address their concerns.

Continuing last year’s work:

  • We will host and participate in anti-racist conversations with staff, faculty, students and administrators during the academic year.
  • The college DEI committee will coordinate listening sessions for all communication students.
  • Faculty and staff continue to participate in an ongoing anti-racist reading group.
  • The college will coordinate DE&I training for the personnel committee and a best-practices training for mentoring faculty.
  • The college will continue to hold diversity trainings for all search committees.
  • The college will provide training and, if funds continue to be available, funding support for all faculty to further expand diversity of voices and representation within their course readings and materials, in an ongoing commitment to decolonize courses and disciplines across the college. This curricular initiative will be tied to ongoing assessment projects to identify progress, as well as areas in need of intervention.
  • In order to better support and hold up a broad range of existing research, programming and community service related to DE&I, the college is developing a centralized DE&I web space and DE&I social media updates. These will help increase awareness of new and existing DE&I programs, projects and events in the college, as well as increase transparency and progress for all DE&I action initiatives.
  • There is a repository of DE&I resources in the college’s internal resource site that will periodically be updated to make DE&I resources continuously available to faculty and staff.
  • We will continue our efforts for attracting, hiring and retaining diverse talent in the job market in all areas of faculty and staff, and supporting the diverse needs, identities and experiences of all our students.
  • The DE&I committee will provide opportunities for faculty of color to discuss their academic experience at the university and communicate any issues that would need to be addressed.
  • Continuing last year’s work, the diversity advocate or members of the DE&I committee will run a micro-training workshop at each quarterly college meeting and each quarterly college faculty meeting. These workshops are designed to continually reaffirm DE&I commitments across the college and build a shared vocabulary around the work of social justice. Some of the issues addressed are being debated in the public arena and that have consequences for our teaching in academia, such as the discussion on Critical Race Theory initiated in the media. We will also address equity within different communities in our college; some of the issues found in the student and faculty surveys last year; the design of equity-oriented classroom activities and assessments; and reflect upon the specificities of being a faculty of color in U.S. academia.
  • The DE&I committee will assess and continue to coordinate the mentoring system created last year for all junior faculty. This will include promotion process mentoring, departmental chair mentorship, and formal review mentorship procedures. Additionally, this will include a cross-college mentorship model where each junior faculty will have two senior colleagues as mentors in the college.
  • The college will continue the policy instituted last year where all faculty going up for formal review in a given year will meet one-on-one with the college diversity advocate prior to their formal review interview. This meeting will help identify and discuss any concerns or questions for the faculty member related to DE&I prior to formal review. The meeting will be standard procedure for tenure-track faculty, and will be on a voluntary basis for other full-time faculty.
  • The DE&I committee will promote discussion about formal review processes and practices in the college.
  • Since the academic year 2020-2021, all faculty in the college have a section added to their annual merit review that explicitly asks for a reflection on their personal goals for contributing to DE&I work in the college. This part of the merit review both reflects on the previous year’s efforts and also aims to set goals for the upcoming year.
  • The college will continue the Student DE&I Fellowship Program.
  • Student DE&I fellow will reach out to all communication student organizations to solicit feedback, questions and suggestions related to college DE&I initiatives.
  • The DE&I committee will host student discussion and listening sessions for students to have an open forum to discuss their experiences, questions and feedback related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the college.
  • The DE&I committee in the college will provide periodic DE&I reports to The DePaulia and the college’s social media to increase transparency of action plan progress and foster student engagement.
  • Recognition of outstanding DE&I work being done in classes and across the college.
  • The DE&I committee will create opportunities for having greater communication among the different communities in the college.

Along with these actions, the faculty and staff of the college commit to continuing to do the necessary work to advocate for all our students, to stand in solidarity with all BIPOC and all marginalized communities, and to continue to do the difficult, uncomfortable and necessary work of interrogating bias and the operations of privilege inside and beyond our walls.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding current or potential DE&I initiatives in the college, we welcome your feedback! Email us at