Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.12
Liaison Amir Nadav
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of St. Thomas
PA-7: Support for Underrepresented Groups

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Kha Yang
Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence
Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a publicly posted non-discrimination statement? :

The non-discrimination statement, including the website URL where the policy is publicly accessible:

Equal Opportunity Statement and Notice of Nondiscrimination
The University of St. Thomas is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity and equal educational opportunity. St. Thomas does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family status, disability, age, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, membership or activity in a local commission, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. The university’s policy of nondiscrimination extends to all aspects of its operations, including but not limited to, employment, educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs and all other educational programs and activities.

Source: https://www.stthomas.edu/media/officeofgeneralcounsel/policies/Equal-Opportunity-Statement-and-Notice-of-Nondiscrimination.pdf

Does the institution have a discrimination response protocol or committee (sometimes called a bias response team)?:

A brief description of the institution’s discrimination response protocol or team:

The institution has a Diversity Action Response Team (DART), a proactive advisory committee committed to advancing the University's mission and convictions. This team has two main functions. First, DART assesses the impact of bias incidents reported on campus and the concerns of the community. DART follows up with the appropriate University officials, such as the President and Provost, and recommends responses that are consistent with, and advance, the St. Thomas mission and convictions. Second, DART recommends and supports University responses to campus-wide concerns that impact the university's inclusive environment.

Dean of Students (DOS) Office and Student Diversity and Inclusion Services
In accordance with its mission, the DOS Office ensures the University community functions as freely as possible from disruptive and inappropriate behavior through the oversight of student conduct, bias related incidents and sexual violence/harassment protocol. The department staff support students and their families in crisis or challenging situations. Upon receiving a report from a student, the DOS staff first examine any measures they can offer to help the student feel safe on campus. The DOS Office offers emotional, psychological and academic support by connecting students to resources on campus and off campus.

Depending on the nature of the incident, the office also offers different ways for the community to acknowledge the harm and try to heal the harm that has occurred. Student Diversity and Inclusion Services has also offered opportunities for community members to gather and talk about the incident and offer support to one another. Student Affairs has implemented restorative justice talking circles as a means for community members to gather and discuss the harm that has occurred and the impact it has had. Student Affairs has also offered educational events to educate students and community members on a specific topic after an incident has occurred.

DOS staff also make sure students know the options they have in terms reporting the incident to the police (this is dependent on the nature of the incident). Once the University receives a report, Public Safety actively investigates the incident. If the person who caused the harm is a student, the Dean of Students Office follows up appropriately through our student conduct process. If the person who caused the harm is faculty or staff, Human Resources is responsible for appropriate follow up.

Does the institution have programs specifically designed to recruit students from underrepresented groups?:

Does the institution have programs specifically designed to recruit academic staff from underrepresented groups?:

Does the institution have programs designed specifically to recruit non-academic staff from underrepresented groups?:

A brief description of the institution’s programs to recruit students, academic staff, and/or non-academic staff from underrepresented groups:

St. Thomas maintains a recruitment plan that focuses on low-income and underrepresented students, including first generation and students of color. The institution acquires contact information for these categories of students, and actively reaches out to encourage those students to apply. High school visits are made to schools that have a large percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch and to those located in urban areas. Community Based Organization (CBO) visits are made to reach students from underrepresented groups, low-income families, and first generation backgrounds.

The institution also offers a five-week summer bridge program to underrepresented students called the Reaching Excellence in Academics and Leadership (REAL) Program. And since 2017, the institution has offered an Associate of Arts program through the Dougherty Family College (DFC), a two-year degree for students who demonstrate high financial need and solid academic achievement; with support for DFC graduates to transition to 4-year programs.

For the last year, the Human Resources Team at the University of St. Thomas has worked with a consulting firm, Team Dynamics, to review, assess, and provide feedback on our recruitment and hiring processes, practices, and materials with an eye towards unintended bias and exclusion of minority groups. Through that partnership, Human Resources has completely redesigned the employment application and EEO form as well as changed several processes and practices and implemented new ones.

With every hire, the University of St. Thomas approaches recruiting diverse non-academic staff with intentionality. Human Resources begins each search with an intentional conversation during intake meetings and search committee meetings to identify people that could add value to the department and the university as a whole. Through those conversations, the institution identifies organizations, job boards, and listservs that support underrepresented groups of people and leverage them as advertising tools. The institution also leverages a LinkedIn recruiter seat to identify individuals that have skillsets that are missing from the department and organization and actively seek out those individuals to assess their interest in our opportunities. Human Resources also attends a variety of career fairs that cater to underrepresented individuals in an effort to make them aware of our current opportunities as well as to develop relationships with them for future openings.

In order to communicate our commitment to diversity, Human Resources has added very specific diversity related language to each of our staff job postings, emphasizing our desire for people of all backgrounds to consider our job opportunities:
“The University of St. Thomas embraces diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity for all. Our convictions of dignity, diversity and personal attention call us to embody and champion a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. We welcome applicants of diverse races, ethnicities, geographic origins, gender identities, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religions, work experience, physical and intellectual abilities, and financial means. We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills. This commitment is consistent with our mission to inspire our students, using the Catholic intellectual tradition, to think critically, work skillfully, and act wisely – all for the common good. A successful candidate will possess a commitment to the ideals of this mission.”

For faculty recruitment, the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement provides training to faculty search committees to discuss unintentional bias and unbiased best practice search and selection strategies. Processes similar to non-academic employees are used to ensure that diverse candidates are recruited for faculty positions.

Does the institution have mentoring, counseling, peer support, academic support, or other programs designed specifically to support students from underrepresented groups on campus?:

Does the institution have mentoring, counseling, peer support or other programs designed specifically to support academic staff from underrepresented groups on campus?:

Does the institution have mentoring, counseling, peer support or other programs to support non-academic staff from underrepresented groups on campus?:

A brief description of the institution’s programs designed specifically to support students, academic staff, and/or non-academic staff from underrepresented groups:

The Center for Faculty Development (CFD) continues to provide faculty with free membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) through an institutional membership. This provides targeted programs to support success of faculty of color at St. Thomas.

The Center for Faculty Development moved its Inclusive Classroom Institute online to make it more accessible, with virtual workshops that focus wholly, or in part on, power/privilege issues. The Institute offers certification, which faculty can use to demonstrate engagement with diversity/inclusion for evaluation and promotion purposes. Additionally, a half-day workshop on building an inclusive classroom is now required of all new full-time faculty, and many adjunct faculty benefit from similar training, arranged by individual departments.

Employee resource groups offer support to underrepresented faculty and staff. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides cost-free professional consultation and referral services for staff and faculty who are experiencing work and personal-related difficulties. Immediate family members are also eligible for EAP services.

The Student Diversity & Inclusion Services (SDIS) office exists to enhance the campus climate and holds deep commitment in developing and sustaining a diverse campus community in the broadest sense, including differences in gender, race, ethnicity, generational history, culture, socioeconomic class, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, citizenship status, political perspectives, geographic origin, and physical ability, through programs and initiatives aimed at St. Thomas students. SDIS staff provides one-on-one and group consultations related to academic success; personal growth; an engaging climate; a just community; programs that increase multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills; serving as a resource for multicultural training, education, and development.

Student Diversity and Inclusion Services coordinates the Linkages Mentor Program, which began in 2007, and serves as a formal peer mentoring initiative designed to support the retention of underrepresented students (students of color, first-generation students, and students demonstrating significant financial need) at the University of St. Thomas. Upper class student mentors serve as a resource to help first year students successfully transition from high school to college. Counseling and Psychological Services has a multicultural counselor, who also leads a healing circle for students of color.

Does the institution have training and development programs, teaching fellowships and/or other programs that specifically aim to support and prepare students from underrepresented groups for careers as faculty members?:

A brief description of the institution’s programs to support and prepare students from underrepresented groups for careers as faculty members:

The Excel! Research Scholars Program is an academic enrichment program that prepares undergraduate students who are first-generation and/or low-income and/or underrepresented in research-based, graduate school programs for graduate school admission and success in their programs. The mission of the program includes developing future scholars as leaders. Specifically, this program is reserved for underrepresented students who aspire to, and are committed to, earning a Ph.D. as a critical step in the process of becoming experts in their respective fields and for creating a more representative academy for future generations. Excel! uses a living and learning community and cohort style approach to teaching by working with students collectively and individually to provide effective and tailored mentorship designed to help each student successfully prepare for the next steps in their education process. As part of the program, students present their research at national conferences and scholarly meetings and attend Director’s Seminars throughout the academic year. Students receive a stipend to serve as a teaching assistant or research assistant or academic tutor in their field of study working alongside a faculty member. Upon successful completion of a baccalaureate degree, the Excel! Research Scholars Program provides students with a number of benefits, including a merit-based scholarship, GRE training, financial support for GRE registration and graduate school applications, and free housing during the Summer Research Institute.

Does the institution produce a publicly accessible inventory of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus?:

Does the institution offer housing options to accommodate the special needs of transgender and transitioning students?:

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for underrepresented groups is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.