St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf joins Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance

St. Olaf College is among the 51 inaugural member institutions of the new Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance.

The University of Southern California Race and Equity Center organized the Alliance and will offer a number of resources annually to its member institutions.

“This is an important step for St. Olaf,” says President David R. Anderson ’74. “Membership in the Alliance gives us the opportunity to learn with and from other colleges like us and from leading experts working on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Equity Resource Portal will enable ongoing learning to supplement and extend the anti-racism training we will be doing on campus in January.”

St. Olaf faculty and staff will have the opportunity to participate in the Alliance resources below.

Racial Equity eConvening Series
Beginning in January 2021, the Center will host a dozen eConvenings, each on a particular aspect of racial equity. These live, synchronous professional learning experiences will be held virtually throughout the year, one per month. Three-hour learning sessions, each on a different topic, will be delivered by highly respected leaders of national higher education associations, tenured professors who study race relations and people of color, chief diversity officers and other experienced administrators, and specialists from the Center. The 12 eConvening sessions will focus mostly on strategies and practical approaches. Attendees will return to work that same day with shareable tools and resources.

Virtual Equity Resource Portal
The Center is developing an online repository of resources and tools for Alliance member colleges. Downloadable equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, slide decks, and conversation scripts will be included in the portal. Every employee across all levels at each Alliance member college will have 24/7 full access to the virtual resource portal. The portal will launch in late spring 2021.

Three Campus Climate Surveys
The Center’s National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) has been administered to more than 500,000 students at colleges and universities in every geographic region of the United States. The NACCC is a rigorous, expert-validated quantitative survey that measures belonging and inclusion, the frequency and depth of cross-racial interactions, students’ appraisals of institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion, and other related topics.

Using the NACCC as a guide, the Center is developing a pair of workplace climate surveys for Alliance member colleges: one for staff at all levels, and another for faculty (including full-time, adjunct, and part-time instructors). These two surveys will focus on topics like employees’ perceptions of equitable opportunities for promotion and advancement; mattering and sense of belonging; how different groups of employees differently experience the workplace environment; employees’ encounters with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other–isms at work; employee satisfaction with the College’s responses to reports of abuse, unfair treatment, and climate problems; and appraisals of the institution’s commitment to equity.

Alliance member colleges will benefit from this trio of campus climate surveys on a three-year rotational basis: the student survey in year one, the faculty survey in year two, and the staff survey in the third membership year. The Center will manage data collection and analysis.

“In addition to the much-needed climate surveys, the monthly e-Convenings and the Equity Resource Portal will allow us to build greater capacity on campus learning from some of the best thought leaders and practitioners in the country,” says St. Olaf Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Bruce King. “We hope to engage diverse groups of our faculty and staff in capacity building so we can create a culture of continuous improvement and engagement, allowing more in-house learning and professional development activities for all facets of the campus.

“I have always said that it is everyone’s job to support the work of equity, inclusion, and dismantling racism in our community, and our membership in the Alliance gives us access to the important skills, tools and resources necessary to empower our work in this crucial area,” King adds. “It is also my hope that benefits received from the Alliance will overflow to other important initiatives and efforts currently underway across the campus by committed and invested members of the St. Olaf community.”