Northeastern has long promoted diversity across all facets of the university. In 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, President Joseph Aoun announced a call to action for the university to address the scourge of systemic racism, thereby renewing our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
To meet this end, the Northeastern community came together and shared ideas and insights through discussions, gatherings, and other forms of feedback. At the same time, a multi-faceted team of university leaders met regularly and developed concrete plans to turn aspirations into reality. The initiatives listed below are a result of this collective work.
Create a Community Advisory Board for NUPD
The Northeastern University Police Department’s (NUPD) mission is to enhance public safety, provide service, and build community. To help them in this endeavor, an NUPD Advisory Board comprising students, faculty, staff, and a member of the Boston community has been established. The board helps guide, inform, and strengthen NUPD’s relationship with the community — both within and outside Northeastern. Senior Vice President Mary Strother reviews best practices around this structure. Additionally, to engender mutual understanding and enhance trust, NUPD Chief Mike Davis continues to hold a series of direct engagements with members of our community.
Increase Diversity and Representation at All Levels
Northeastern’s goal is to reflect the diversity of our nation and society by 2025. Provost David Madigan, Chancellor Ken Henderson, and all senior vice presidents are committed to increasing diversity at all levels — students, faculty, and staff. This includes increasing the number of Black American students enrolled in our undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs, and increasing faculty and staff of color.
Elevate the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion
Northeastern works towards elevating the work of this council, led by Deans James Hackney and Uta Poiger. A key focus is on continuing to seek community input and recommendations on how Northeastern can be more diverse, inclusive, and equitable across every dimension, including an annual survey of our students, faculty, and staff. In collaboration with the provost and the chancellor, this also includes actively promoting scholarships and curricular innovation that advances the cause of racial justice.
Improve Universitywide Accountability
Northeastern’s leadership works with their departments and senior managers to develop specific, measurable goals to increase racial and ethnic diversity in each academic and administrative unit. These plans are developed and updated on an annual basis.
Appoint a Dean for Cultural and Spiritual Life
In June 2020, Associate Dean Robert Jose was promoted to the role of Dean for Cultural and Spiritual Life, as well as made a member of President Aoun’s cabinet. In this expanded role, Dean Jose serves as a special advisor to the president on matters of diversity, equity and inclusion. Apart from a wealth of experience, Dean Jose brings to this role a proven track record of working with and empowering students of color.
Improve Support for Black Students
Northeastern recognizes the importance of better student support for its Black students, and works towards making them feel valued, included, and safe on campus. In addition to appointing Dean Jose to the cabinet, where his background and expertise is essential, President Aoun has asked the provost and the chancellor to place special emphasis on the experience of Black students. This is reflected in our work to recruit and retain Black academic advisors, co-op coordinators, career coaches, and healthcare professionals.
Enact Cultural Competency and Anti-Racism Training
Every member of the Northeastern community must feel that they are full citizens of the university. To ensure awareness of both conscious and unconscious biases, and to eradicate it, Northeastern instituted universal training for the community, focusing on “cultural and racial literacy” in every corner of the university.
Deepen Community Engagement
Northeastern aims to emphasize, deepen, and enlarge its ongoing efforts to be actively engaged with communities surrounding all its campuses. Among other things, these efforts include educational programs for local youth and strengthening ties with minority-owned businesses. While this initiative was first helmed by former Senior Vice President Ralph Martin, current SVPs Mary Strother and Tom Nedell are presently leading these efforts.
Amplify Our Impact Through Our Employer Partners
Northeastern has teamed up with a broad range of employers to develop best practices and expectations to promote the recruitment and advancement of people of color, particularly from underrepresented groups. As our partners seek to become more diverse and inclusive, Northeastern aims to serve as a beacon and lead by example. The provost, chancellor, and our academic deans develop specific plans to lead this effort.