What is Inclusive Excellence?
Inclusive Excellence is a planning process intended to help each UW System institution establish a comprehensive and well-coordinated set of systemic actions that focus specifically on fostering greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and accountability at every level of university life. The central premise of Inclusive Excellence holds that UW System colleges and universities need to intentionally integrate their diversity efforts into the core aspects of their institutions—such as their academic priorities, leadership, quality improvement initiatives, decision-making, day-to-day operations, and organizational cultures—in order to maximize their success.
How Does Inclusive Excellence Work?
Inclusive Excellence offers an approach for organizing our work in a deliberate, intentional and coordinated manner. This approach:
- Employs a dual focus in diversity efforts, concentrating on both increasing compositional diversity, and creating learning environments in which students of all backgrounds can thrive;
- Requires a more comprehensive, widespread level of engagement and commitment ensuring that every student fulfills their educational potential;
- Places the mission of diversity at the center of institutional life so that it becomes a core organizing principle, around which institutional decisions are made;
- Calls for a close attentiveness to the student experience itself, including the impact of race and ethnicity, and the influence of physical ability, sexual orientation, gender expression, socioeconomic background, and first-generation status on their learning experiences; and
- Demands that the ideals of diversity and excellence be pursued as the interconnected and interdependent goals they are.
Why Inclusive Excellence?
In many respects, Inclusive Excellence represents the next necessary step in our evolution as a System committed to creating those diverse learning environments that we know are so vital to our students’ growth, learning, and achievement. Our recruitment and retention efforts as well as our engagement in such initiatives as the Campus Climate Study and the Equity Scorecard Project have taught us that our pursuit of diversity has to be a far more multidimensional, integrative, and student-centered process if it is to produce the kinds of individual and System-wide transformation we have been seeking. Inclusive Excellence is a change-oriented planning process that encourages us to continue in our diversification efforts albeit with a greater intentionality and attentiveness of how they serve the needs of our students. Informed by a well-established body of empirical research as to the institutional contexts, practices, and cultures that contribute to the establishment of a diverse learning environment, Inclusive Excellence represents a shift not in the essence of our work but how we approach it and carry it out. Above all, Inclusive Excellence asks us to actively manage diversity as a vital and necessary asset of collegiate life rather than as an external problem.