In 2009, as part of the strategic planning process of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), an action group was formed around each of the seven initiatives of the Strategic Plan. One of those initiatives was "Build Diversity," and the group of faculty, staff, and students who have worked on this topic—known as the Diversity Action Group (DAG)—have organized and held three symposia to date.

The first of these, held in late 2011, broached the topic of diversity with the highest levels of leadership at SAIC, the President and his cabinet. At this symposium, presentations were given on the history of SAIC’s diversity initiatives and case studies of other universities’ approaches. Then, exercises to pinpoint SAIC’s strengths, challenges, and needs around diversity were done in breakout groups that reported to the whole assembly on their discussions.

The subsequent symposium, in 2012, focused on diversity in the curriculum and included academic department heads and students among the attendees. Presentations were given on the prevalence of diversity in the curriculum historically as well as currently. Current expressions and challenges were detailed in Contemporary Practices, off-campus experiences, and critique. This was followed by an assessment group exercise with subsequent reporting, as in the first symposium.

On March 22, 2013, the "Build Diversity" action group had its final symposium, which focused on students. This symposium was preceded by focused conversations with students in the fall 2012 semester, which informed the topics discusseded at the event. After the symposium, DAG student representatives engaged in dialogues with the senior administration.

From these symposia and other research and dialogue, DAG will ultimately make a formal proposal to the Provost, who coordinates strategic planning initiatives, and the President outlining a long-term plan to address systemic improvements in the diversity of SAIC.

A packet containing minutes from the two symposia that have taken place can be found here: Diversity Action Group symposia minutes [PDF]. Please review them so that you can become better acquainted with the work that has been done so far and how DAG’s response to the challenges laid out in the “Build Diversity” strategic initiative has evolved.

Sincerely,

Co-Chairs of DAG

Mike Nicolai, Vice President of Human Resources

Karyn Sandlos, Assistant Professor