Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at SAIC


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at SAIC

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is committed to an equitable, just environment where the voices of all our students, faculty, and staff are valued and respected.

SAIC's Diversity Mission Statement:

The School’s primary purpose is to cultivate a campus designed to encourage the discovery and development of significant ideas and images. The School is, therefore, committed to assembling a diverse community of faculty, students, and staff and to nurturing and creating an environment in which those different perspectives and backgrounds can be heard, valued, and utilized.

In recognition of our community’s efforts toward this mission, SAIC has been awarded the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity(HEED) Award in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Our continued recognition through this national award reflects the School’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion across campus.

Anti-Racism Efforts

To better support its diverse community of artists, designers, and scholars, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has made diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives a significant element of its planning efforts. Over the past decade, these initiatives have established the current DEI staff positions in academic affairs and student affairs, diversified the reach of student admissions and faculty recruitment, incentivized diverse content in the curriculum, introduced DEI training for new community members, and increased programming and support structures to better nurture and create an environment that respects, values, and includes the backgrounds and perspectives of all its community members. 

This is ongoing work for SAIC. As this summer’s political activism has shown, there is a global demand to actively seek an anti-racist society by correcting for the systemic racism that exists throughout our social structures. To be a part of this move towards an anti-racism and in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, SAIC announced several new initiatives this summer, which include:

  • Establishing a new Anti-Racism Committee to amplify the needs of our community, especially its Black and Brown members, design further initiatives, and see to fruition sustained action toward an anti-racist, diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus. This committee reports directly the president of the School and its members include faculty, staff, and students, as well as a board member.
  • Appointing the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for academic affairs to president’s cabinet.
  • Holding a day of mourning, during which all community members were encouraged to take time for self-care, and self-directed education. Flaxman Library staff compiled a list of resources so that community members could learn more about racism, social justice, the Black experience, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Financially supporting our community partners in the predominantly African-American neighborhood of North Lawndale, where SAIC maintains a satellite campus. SAIC is also matching all faculty, staff, student, board member, or alum contributions to these organizations up to $10,000 until December 31, 2020.
  • Continue efforts to build diverse hiring pools for positions throughout the institution, especially among full-time, tenure-track faculty.
  • Continuing our current practice of not contracting with the Chicago Police Department.
  • Announcing several undergraduate scholarship opportunities for graduates from the Chicago’s high schools, a district which is approximately 89 percent students of color
  • $1 Million Investment in Chicago Scholars Programs: A recent gift from Carol and David Ostrow will create an endowed, named, need-based scholarship opportunity for graduates from the Chicago area high schools’ student population matriculating to SAIC, a district which is approximately 89 percent students of color. The first cohort of scholarship recipients will be awarded by the 2021–22 academic year.
  • Undergraduate Scholarship Named for Lynika Strozier: Named in honor of beloved colleague Lynika Strozier, who passed away from complications due to COVID-19, this full-tuition, need-based scholarship will go to support an undergraduate student matriculating from Chicago area high schools beginning in the 2020–21 academic year.
  • Expand the scope of the Student Emergency Relief Fund, originally established to support students financially impacted by COVID-19, to alleviate financial hardships incurred during this summer’s protests and governmental response, including food insecurity, transportation needs, and health care.

The work of making our campus more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist will require many kinds of work, committed by all members of our community over a long period of time. Throughout the 2020–21 academic year and beyond, our community will continue to realize initiatives like these seek the more just and compassionate campus we aim to be. All of us, including the newest members of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago community, will work together to see that our efforts create meaningful and lasting progress.