NSU’s students, faculty, and staff reflect a broad spectrum of diversity in race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sex, veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, disability, and age, in addition to the diversity of thought and personal beliefs. We are proud to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-serving institution. NSU is committed to being aspirational and intentional in developing its first institutional diversity strategic plan.
The first step in the process was to partner with a nationally recognized diversity consultant to measure the level of active diversity engagement among NSU community members. Next, all students, faculty, and staff were invited to complete the Diversity Engagement Survey (DES), a validated, peer-reviewed instrument to benchmark diversity engagement for 100s of universities, academic medical centers, and businesses. The survey results placed NSU in the top third of those institutions that have administered the survey. This positive showing reflects the inclusive atmosphere of diversity created over the years at NSU and the strong and meaningful diversity work undertaken by students, faculty, and staff, primarily at the grassroots level.
The second step in this process was establishing the BEDI University Advisory Council, comprised of more than 40 members appointed by NSU Deans and Vice Presidents as representatives for their respective college and administrative unit.
In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, the ID Council held a series of open forums for the NSU community to share their pain, anger, and hopes for a response from the university. President Hanbury responded to this request by forming a Steering Committee charged with providing him with recommendations for expanding NSU’s long-standing commitment to diversity. The Steering Committee recommended bringing in the expertise of DL Plummer and Associates, “a team of seasoned professionals who support organizations and communities to leverage differences in order to drive their missions and achieve their business objectives” (Team — DL Plummer). A series of steps taken under the guidance and support of this team led to the following:
NSU’s first diversity-related Council was the Inclusion and Diversity (ID) Council, organized by Dr. Debra Nixon and Dean Honggang Yang in the former School of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2006. The Council was established as part of the Campus Climate initiative “Do Something Different.” The group’s primary objective was to invite a campus-wide change in behavior related to diversity matters. Dr. Nixon served as the first chair of the Council, followed in succession by Dr. Michael Caldwell and Dr. Robin Cooper. Dean Yang provided steadfast leadership, encouragement, and resources to support the initiatives of the ID Council.
From 2006 to 2020, the Inclusion and Diversity Council organized and hosted two discussion series: Diversity Dialogues and Inclusive Campus Conversations.
The Diversity Dialogues were initiated to bring the university community together to consider diversity issues. Dr. Nixon conceived the idea based on behavioral changes of her students in a Marriage and Family Therapy Diversity course. Based on this classroom experience, the Diversity Dialogues were guided by the premise that one chief reason communities continue to struggle with issues of difference (diversity) is that there has not been a healthy platform to talk honestly and openly about them. Therefore, in 2015, the forum transitioned to Inclusive Campus Conversations, sponsored by the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. These were led by Dr. Michael Caldwell, followed by Dr. Robin Cooper, with the strong support of Dean Yang.
Over many years, the ID Council also organized and hosted diversity-related initiatives related to Hispanic Heritage Month and Black History Month, as well as dialogue processes held in response to divisive political issues. While the ID Council was open to the whole university community, it was a grassroots initiative rather than a group endorsed and supported by university leadership and did not include participants from all university constituents.In 2022, the President recommended, and the NSU Board of Trustees approved, adding a diversity initiative to Vision 2025 as part of the university’s strategic priorities. In support of this initiative, the BEDI Advisory Council developed its first set of action plans for the 2022-23 fiscal year that were approved and funded by the President. In addition, a new BEDI website was created to support communication.
We will guide NSU toward inclusive excellence by cultivating and supporting the ongoing development and implementation of processes, procedures, and programs that promote greater belonging, equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout all aspects of the University so that all members of NSU can be empowered to pursue their full potential and do their very best work.