Lisa GraumlichInterim President Ana Mari Cauce brought renewed focus to diversity, inclusion, and access at UW through her widely publicized address to the campus. In wake of her talk, many have asked me to define the College’s vision for diversity and I have a ready answer. I cite the need, especially in a college devoted to environmental sciences, to have “all hands on deck” – ensuring that access to our critically important research and education is never deterred by gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, or disability. The vision is clearly laudable and is reflected in the dedicated efforts of the Dean’s Office and the College Diversity Committee and a broad range of opportunities for faculty and staff and students. However, as a college, we have yet to collectively translate our vision into a coordinated and fully resourced action plan.

We can do more. Over the next year, I am dedicating my own efforts and College resources to building a stronger strategic plan for diversity that reflects who we are as a college: our values, our aspirations, and, importantly, where we currently stand. We need to collectively develop a roadmap that highlights attitudes, behaviors, policies, and practices that enhance our ability to provide access, opportunity, and support for all students, staff and faculty. We are beginning by learning more. Over the next six months, the College leadership will participate in diversity training and we will undertake a college-wide climate survey that will probe issues of diversity, access and inclusion.

Finally, we need to think more deeply about inclusion. Does the culture of our college make each faculty, staff, and student feel connected to the UW? How can we create a climate inviting all individuals to participate and contribute to their full potential? Making progress on inclusion demands that we ask questions not just about our demographics, but also about what we study and what we teach. Do our research priorities reflect the environmental issues and concerns of a diverse set of communities? Do our classes address the full impact of environmental changes on people who are more vulnerable to those changes? Do our students see their concerns and values expressed in our scholarship?

Recognizing differences—who we are, what we study, how we learn—and leveraging this knowledge is critical to the future of the College. The individual and collective creativity and innovation required for tackling big questions and vexing problems depend on our ability to tap the richness of our differences. It’s not going to be easy in part because we have a lot of work to do—I welcome your ideas, feedback, and input as we move forward. But I’m not going to walk away from the issue. Let’s get to work.


Lisa Graumlich
Dean, College of the Environment
Virginia and Prentice Bloedel Professor