New report highlights Yale’s efforts to promote equity and belonging
In October 2020, Yale President Peter Salovey announced a series of goals and objectives to promote a sense of belonging for all members of the university community. To meet those objectives, he created a series of university-wide initiatives that form part of the ongoing Belonging at Yale effort. And he asked Yale’s schools and administrative units to develop action plans — within the context of their own cultures, communities, and priorities — that reflect a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
In the two years since, Yale has made key advances that are promoting faculty excellence and diversity, enhancing the leadership skills of a diverse group of future university leaders, broadening access to a Yale education, supporting alumni engagement with current students, and strengthening the university’s relationship with its home city of New Haven.
The Belonging at Yale annual report published last month documents the important progress being made across campus, and includes a series of inspiring stories that embody these advances.
“A robust sense of belonging helps members of our community take advantage of all that Yale has to offer and contribute to the mission of the university,” said President Salovey. “The Belonging at Yale 2022 report reflects the energy and creativity of faculty, staff, students, and alumni. I appreciate their dedication to our belonging initiative.”
The university also published a series of infographics that summarize the Belonging at Yale plans created by each school and administrative division. The plans were first created in 2021, and were revised in 2022 in preparation for the current academic year. More than 150 people participated in creating these “local-level” plans. Through them, the schools and divisions have committed to more than 275 actions that will foster inclusion, equity, and belonging.
“The Belonging at Yale report and the updated unit-level plans show momentum behind this work, which is key to sustaining it over the long term,” said Kimberly Goff-Crews, university secretary and vice president for university life, who oversees the campus-wide Belonging at Yale initiative. “We are hoping for progress, not perfection, and that mindset is allowing for innovative work at the local level.”
Some highlights of the Belonging at Yale report include:
- Building on the university’s existing collaborations with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Yale has created a new scholarship program to support New Haven public school students who choose to attend HBCUs. The Pennington Scholarship program, which was announced by President Salovey in December, will support 10 to 12 students in each college-bound cohort for four years, with each student receiving up to $20,000 toward tuition and fees per year. When fully implemented, 40 to 50 students will receive Pennington scholarships at any given time.
- The $85 million Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative (FEDI), established in 2015, provides support for select ladder faculty and presidential visiting fellows who would enrich diversity or contribute to another dimension of strategic importance to the university. Among the 239 ladder faculty members recruited to Yale this academic year, 50 (21%) are from underrepresented backgrounds, which is about double the average over the past decade.
- The Emerge at Yale program supports the development of university staff members, preparing the most talented and committed individuals for leadership positions across campus. The first cohort of 19 participants completed their training October; a second cohort of 21 participants started the same month.
- The Yale Alumni Association (YAA) has organized a series of biennial IMPACT conferences, coordinated by alumni groups worldwide and supported by YAA, that have showcased the many ways that the Yale community is changing the world for the better. The next conference, “IMPACT III: Building an Equitable Future,” which will help leaders advance belonging efforts in a post-pandemic world, will be held March 24-25, 2023. Meanwhile, an alumni group known as 1stGenYale is supporting Yale students who are the first in their families to attend college. In the summer of 2022, the group placed 126 Yale College students in internships. These students conducted research with Yale faculty, and worked for national and international institutions across a range of sectors.
- The Yale and Slavery Working Group was formed to examine the university’s historical roles in and associations with slavery, the slave trade, and abolition. The working group has released initial findings and hosted a three-day conference as it works toward publishing a narrative book this year.
Some other success stories featured in the report include a commitment by Yale University Properties to support local businesses, including Black-owned businesses, through its community investment portfolio; the placement of more than 50 New Haven Promise summer interns with departments across the Yale campus; efforts to support students who will serve in the military and veterans who have served; and the creation of a student-athlete council for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
“Through FEDI and the efforts of Yale’s schools and academic departments, we have been successful in attracting excellent new faculty members from a broader range of backgrounds,” said Gary Desir, vice provost for faculty development and diversity and the Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine. “We plan to put just as much effort into creating a welcoming environment that makes faculty want to stay at Yale.”
The work to create and sustain a strong community at Yale is ongoing, Goff-Crews said. Moving forward, the university will place increased emphasis on four key areas:
- Addressing structural issues and biases that present obstacles to equity, inclusion and belonging, with an emphasis on anti-Semitism and anti-Asian, anti-Latinx, and anti-LGBTQ sentiment, and accessibility for people with disabilities;
- “Cultivating Conversations,” a new project still under development that will facilitate dialogue among faculty, students, staff, and alumni on challenging issues;
- Assessment of progress toward goals at all levels of the university, which will entail the collection of relevant data needed to evaluate the impact of policies, procedures, and programs; and
- A focus on retention of the increasingly diverse community of faculty, students, and staff.
“I encourage you to remember that the responsibility for Yale’s excellence rests with all of us,” Goff-Crews wrote in the report’s conclusion. “An educational environment provides special opportunities to explore and learn, but also to respond, change, and join with others to build a sense of belonging.”