Charge to Harvard Kennedy School’s Diversity Committee from Dean Douglas Elmendorf
To fulfill Harvard Kennedy School’s values and to achieve excellence in our mission of improving public policy and leadership, our faculty, staff, and students work together to advance diversity, equity, and anti-racism. We aim to foster a diverse and welcoming campus community where everyone can thrive and where we oppose racism and other systemic injustices—with the continuing goal of building a School and a world with respect and dignity for all.
The Kennedy School’s Diversity Committee—or “DivCo,” as it is often known—has long been at the center of the School’s efforts to make progress toward these goals. During the past academic year, for example, the Committee has played an important role in establishing a pre-orientation program to support Black students and other students of color, creating paid positions for students to work on diversity and anti-racism, launching a Culture Ambassadors program among staff members, and more.
Several factors are integral to the importance of the Diversity Committee: One is that the Committee includes representatives of the principal constituencies on campus: students, staff, and faculty. A second is that, while the Committee recognizes the particular role of racism in the United States, it is concerned with all aspects of diversity and inclusion, reflecting the varied personal characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of members of our global community. A third factor is that the Committee engages in the collaborative development of new ideas to enhance the School’s diversity strategy and the collaborative implementation of specific changes. A fourth factor is that the Committee lifts the voices of everyone at the Kennedy School, especially marginalized voices, who want to offer ideas for enhancing diversity and inclusion or to express equity-related concerns.
All of these facets of the Diversity Committee are crucial. And with the renewed focus of the Kennedy School on supporting diversity, equity, and anti-racism, the time seems ripe to clarify DivCo’s purpose, structure, and operations. Therefore, I ask Harvard Kennedy School’s Diversity Committee to:
- Help the Kennedy School to foster a diverse and welcoming school community where everyone can thrive and to oppose racism and other systemic injustices, thereby helping to assure respect and dignity for everyone in our campus community and beyond.
- Address the full range of aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion—including demographic, socioeconomic, and ideological differences—so that the varied personal characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of all members of the Kennedy School community are considered.
- Provide a channel for all members of the Kennedy School community to ask questions, raise concerns, and offer ideas about diversity, equity, and anti-racism.
- Consider new approaches for communicating and engaging with the Kennedy School community about diversity, equity, and anti-racism.
- Foster an environment of constructive, collaborative problem-solving that is forward-looking, strategic, and makes concrete progress toward specific, agreed-upon goals.
- Adopt a structure and mode of operating well-suited to meeting these objectives:
- A chair who will be the Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging.
- A steering group comprising the chair; another representative from the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging; the Senior Associate Dean for Degree Programs and Student Affairs; the Academic Dean for Teaching and Curriculum; a senior representative from the Office of Human Resources; and the Kennedy School Student Government’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Anti-Racism.
- Three additional student representatives who provide a broad representation of our student community, and who are chosen by the DivCo steering group from among students who respond to a publicized, open call by submitting a short paragraph regarding their interest.
- Three additional staff representatives who provide a broad representation of our staff community, and who are chosen by the DivCo steering group from among staff members who respond to a publicized, open call by submitting a short paragraph regarding their interest.
- Three additional faculty representatives who provide a broad representation of our faculty community, and who are chosen by the DivCo steering group from among faculty members who respond to a publicized, open call by submitting a short paragraph regarding their interest.
- Meetings of DivCo with the Dean at least once per semester; meetings of DivCo at least once per month during the academic year; meetings of the DivCo steering group at least twice per month (once just before each DivCo meeting and once between meetings); and meetings of DivCo open to all members of the campus community as scheduled by the steering group.