Inclusive Excellence at William James College
William James College is an institution and a community committed to the principles of excellence, fairness and respect for all people. Making excellence inclusive is an active process through which colleges and universities achieve excellence in learning, teaching, student development, institutional functioning, and engagement in local and global communities (AAC&U 2012). As part of this commitment, we have a responsibility to provide and sustain multiple cultures, to encourage scholarship and knowledge, and to demonstrate our commitment to fair and equal access to higher education.
We recognize that in order to truly be inclusive we must draw attention to the depth and breadth of the diversity represented at William James College. Acknowledging both the recognition and appreciation of diversity, our definition includes age, culture, different ideas and perspectives, disability, ethnicity, first generation status, familial status, gender identity and expression, geographic background, marital status, national origin, race, religious, political and spiritual beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and veteran status. We also recognize that the historical exclusion and marginalization of specific social groups must be addressed to promote equity.
We recognize that inclusiveness and excellence are interdependent and that in order to continue to stay current in the global marketplace and stay relevant in an increasingly diverse world, we must embody inclusion. To practice inclusiveness is excellence.
We recognize that everyone is responsible for inclusive excellence. A unit or person can drive the process, but every individual at William James College assumes responsibility for positive change. Our community has leaders and ambassadors who have been championing this work throughout the years; our Military Veterans Psychology (MVP) program, the Institutional Diversity Committee, the Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health (CMGMH) and out interstitial initiatives like the Lucero Latino Mental Health and Black Mental Health Academy have laid the groundwork for the education and awareness needed to innovate. Our academic programs, faculty, staff and students have raised the bar on promoting social justice and addressing mental health disparities among disenfranchised populations in the U.S. and abroad. At William James College, we recognize that our ability to be a leader in the behavioral health field both locally and globally is dependent upon our capacity to evolve in the context of an increasingly diverse community and a complex global society.
We recognize that inclusive excellence goes beyond numbers. Historically, diversity has been gauged by demographics or numbers; we must move beyond solely numbers toward an inclusive community that embeds diversity throughout the institution in multiple areas including demographics, policies, and communications; curriculum, pedagogy, and student learning; recruitment, hiring and retention, evaluation and supervision.
Achieving inclusive excellence is a long-term commitment and must have a comprehensive broad approach, embedding appreciation of all members and inclusion of best practices into the very fabric of William James College’s organizational culture.
Inclusive Excellence Framework and Model – Definitions and Dimensions
Diversity refers to the variety of perspectives, experiences, and values that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences refer to, but not limited to individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability/disability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning and working together. Thus, diversity is a catalyst for educational and institutional excellence.
The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of marginalized groups. Creating opportunities for equal access and success for historically underrepresented populations, such as racial and ethnic minority and low-income students, in three main areas:
- Representational equity, the proportional participation at all levels of an institution;
- Resource equity, the distribution of educational resources in order to close equity gaps; and
- Equity-mindedness, the demonstration of an awareness of and willingness to address equity issues among institutional leaders and staff.
The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued. An inclusive climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions so that all people can fully participate in the College’s opportunities.
The expectation and standard for achieving excellence in learning, research, teaching, student development, local and global community engagement, workforce development and more. The community or institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages and includes the rich diversity of students, staff and faculty, administrators, and alumni constituents.
William James’ Five Dimensions of Inclusive Excellence
Access and Success
Recruit and retain a more diverse and inclusive student body, faculty and staff. This dimension refers to the objectives and strategies used to increase or maintain compositional diversity among William James’ departments and includes activities related to workforce training, search processes and professional development workshops of our students, faculty and staff.
Institutional Climate and Intergroup Relations
Create and sustain an organizational environment that acknowledges, respects and celebrates diversity and employs inclusive practices throughout its daily operations. This dimension refers to the objectives and strategies that enable the institution to build community that is supportive and respectful and that values differing perspectives and experiences.
Education and Scholarship
Innovate in teaching, learning and scholarship by offering courses, creating learning and creative opportunities and designing curricula with attention to inclusion. Targeted professional development activities directed to improving the intercultural competencies of faculty and staff will contribute to a learning and research environment where innovation and creativity thrive.
Create and sustain an institutional infrastructure that effectively supports progress in achieving diversity goals set forth in the Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan. Institutional infrastructure refers to the policies, resources, organizational structures, and the use of metrics and other evidence to drive intentional decision making around diversity, equity and inclusion.
Community and Civic Engagement
Leverage William James’ mission as an institution with an ongoing social responsibility to create programs to educate specialists of many disciplines to meet the evolving mental health needs of society and is committed to partnering with our communities both locally and globally to create a community that pursues excellence by enacting inclusion and equity.
Council for Inclusive Excellence
The Inclusive Excellence model also requires that clear measures of accountability be established to ensure that progress toward diversity, equity and inclusion goals are made. The Council for Inclusive Excellence comprises of representatives from our staff, students, faculty, alumni, and trustees and is facilitated through the division of Diversity Equity & Inclusion. In order to enhance William James’s effectiveness in developing and meeting its diversity, equity and inclusion goals the Council will be charged with
- Guiding the development of goals and measurable outcomes related to inclusive excellence,
- Monitoring and evaluating progress toward identified goals,
- Identifying areas of deficiencies and making recommendations for moving our inclusion excellence efforts forward more effectively, and
- Reporting to the campus community on progress toward identified goals on an annual basis.
The division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) provides college-wide leadership and accountability in developing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environment. In collaboration with campus and community partners, ODEI is an institutional resource that supports the university's mission and strategic plan of Inclusive Excellence. DEI serves as an advocate in promoting diversity, equity and inclusive excellence by shaping university policies, practices, and programs and by promoting the access and success of historically marginalized communities through the fostering of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus climate.
Gloria Noronha, MA
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion