Viewing change on campus, through a justice lens

December 9, 2021

To the La Salle community:

In June, the University’s Interim President and Faculty Senate President released a report from La Salle’s Joint Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, titled Begin Again: Truth and Transformation. The report elevates to the University recommendations for consideration based on an abundance of research, data, and best and next practices to determine how to best weave equity, diversity, and inclusion—through a justice lens—into the fabric of our campus environment.

In the message announcing the report’s completion, the University identified nine recommendations that it would begin implementing this academic year.

What follows is a status update on the implementation of these recommendations, in addition to other initiatives.


  • Join the Place-Based Justice Network as recognition of our institutional commitment to combat systems of oppression.
    • The University has joined the Place-Based Justice Network (PBJN). Its focus on a place-based community engagement strategy invites institutions of higher education and their communities into a deeper examination of how to address historic and current systems that disenfranchise people based on color, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, and other personal and communal identifiers. Seattle University’s Sundborg Center for Community Engagement serves as the network’s lead manager. Learn more about the PBJN.

In progress

  • Dedicate new resources, including at least one staff position, to operationalize, manage and track the University’s JEDI work.
    • The University has posted a position description for an Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Institutional Inclusion and Diversity. Working at all levels of the University community, the AVP will operationalize, manage, and track the University’s JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) work. As a key content expert in this work, this AVP will provide guidance to senior leadership in decision-making, execution, and communication of key initiatives and messages. The AVP will report to the Vice President of Mission, Diversity, and Inclusion. Learn more about the position.
  • Create a bias response team and process that is streamlined, forward-facing, and run appropriately.


  • Revise La Salle’s equal employment opportunity/anti-harassment policy to incorporate an ombudsperson process for informal resolutions.
    • The Division of Student Development and Campus Life and the Office of Human Resources have worked closely with the Office of General Counsel to draft revisions to the University’s existing policy to include a Bias Response Team and an ombudsperson process. These divisions and offices are exploring appropriate third-party software that will support the proposed revised policy before its finalization, specifically software that will provide the following capabilities: anonymous reporting, easy-to-use forms that will sensitively describe the process, and management tools that allow for streamlined communication to appropriate personnel for supportive response and conflict and dispute resolution for the University community.
  • Expand the scope of the University’s Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Faculty document to include all University employees.
    • The Office of the Provost and the Office of Human Resources have partnered to amend the Faculty Hiring Guidelines, the Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Faculty document, other hiring documents, and our electronic hiring system to include new required steps in the process for better ensuring a diverse pool of candidates for a search. Further consideration of aspects of this initiative will continue and it will additionally be rolled out for all staff positions in the spring semester.
  • Hire multilingual, Black, indigenous, and other people of color, and culturally knowledgeable staff throughout the University.
    • To advance hiring and retaining underrepresented minority groups and multilingual and culturally knowledgeable staff, the Office of Human Resources has expanded the scope of the University’s Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining document and made these advances:
      1. Researched current data available for diverse advertising sources and is negotiating pricing with select vendors.
      2. Created a new category of supplemental questions in the hiring system called “Language Proficiency,” incorporating more instruction into hiring guidelines around specifying what languages are preferred and definitions of proficiency. Department named in the Commission’s report were asked to review postings to update language requirements and preferences.
      3. Proposed options for the expansion of voluntary demographics for applicants to include identification with historically underrepresented minoritized groups not already tracked due to federal regulations.

Early stages

  • Improve the internal infrastructure to measure and track inclusionary practices for supplier diversity and local hiring.


  • Establish a comprehensive set of supplier diversity and local hiring policies for University procurement activity with performance metrics.
    • To achieve these initiatives, the first step is formalizing processes, some of which are already in place. A draft amendment to the procurement policy to include specific diversity language and tracking mechanisms was developed and will move through the policy amendment process.
  • Recruit and hire members of underrepresented minority groups for faculty positions and enhance their retention by providing the support and opportunities necessary for their professional development and success.
    • To recruit and hire underrepresented minorities (URM) for faculty positions and enhance their retention is a considerable initiative to begin by setting up the building blocks. To that end, the Office of the Provost and members of the Joint Commission who served in its Recruiting, Hiring, and Retention Workstream will engage in dialogue to understand the Commission’s recommendations on this subject and review the initial hiring guidelines that help us reach a diverse pool of candidates for first- and second-round interviews. In addition, work with Finance and Administration and Human Resources is necessary to take the next concrete steps.

In addition to the above recommendations, additional JEDI activities are under way. They include:

Proposal for Black Studies: Luisa Ossa, Ph.D., professor of global languages, literatures and perspectives, is leading the development of a proposal for a Black Studies program.

Climate surveys: The Appendix of the Commission’s report holds limited data from the Faculty and Staff Climate Surveys. Appreciatively, Caitlin Taylor, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology and criminal justice, and Daniel Rodriguez, Ph.D., professor of public health, will continue the necessary work of conducting further analyses on these two surveys. Furthermore, they will determine to what extent the Student Climate Survey appropriately represents our overall student population.

Community circles: Called “Healing Ourselves through Moments of Empathy” (HOME), the community circle is an opportunity to create a compassionate and welcoming space for the University community to reflect and listen in small affinity group settings to digest and internalize the Commission’s report. In addition, it is an opportunity to be present to another in these times in a spirit of Lasallian association. The JEDI Campus Team of staff and faculty members from across the University trained in the healing circle methodology is organizing the sessions for student, staff, and faculty affinity groups.

In the spirit of together and by association, these times beckon us to weave equity, diversity, and inclusion—through a lens of justice—into the fabric of our whole campus environment. Because of our Lasallian Catholic character, our University can advance the development of a campus community comfortable with and capable of investigating, questioning, and celebrating differences. Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, Ed.D., ’72, Superior General, Brothers of the Christian Schools, asserts: “Lasallians are people who live in solidarity with neighbors near and far, who witness to fraternity, where the dignity of everyone is respected and honored.” He calls us to recommit to our educational mission “to bring healing and unity to our communities, our schools, and our societies.” It requires wisdom and knowledge, discernment and courage. Let us continue to set about this mission boldly.


Ernest J. Miller, FSC, D. Min., M.A. ’95
Vice President of Mission, Diversity, and Inclusion