Reflecting on a Year of Partnerships in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

On behalf of my colleagues at the Office for Institutional Equity and Inclusive Culture (EIC), I want to extend warm wishes to the Drexel University community as we wind down the calendar year, prepare for a restful Winter Break, and set our goals for 2024. I am pleased to share with you the 2023 EIC Annual Report, which documents our efforts to serve and partner with the Drexel community on the important work of building a culture of inclusion and equity here. Our collective efforts and partnerships across campus, coupled with an intentional structure and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), led Drexel to receive the 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award from INSIGHT Into Diversity. We should all be proud of this achievement, even as we recognize that there is much more work to be done.

I want to highlight the importance of partnership, because this year’s report is centered around the work of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Partners across the University. You are considered a partner if you are committed to making sure people are heard, seen, valued and given an opportunity to succeed – regardless of whether you formally have “DEI” in your title.

In 2023, one of our closest partners – the Center for Inclusive Education and Scholarship (CIES) – formally joined the Office for Institutional Equity and Inclusive Culture, further strengthening EIC’s outreach and dedication to our students. CIES serves as a conduit to: increase access to higher education for students regardless of race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status; foster an inclusive community of scholars striving to achieve academic excellence; and graduate students empowered to impact change. We look forward to working with our DEI Partners to support the 11 programs led by CIES, including Dragons Prep, Liberty Scholars, and THRIVE.

As I often say, we are on this journey together, at every level of the organization. Our collective commitment is reflected at the senior leadership level through the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Advisory Council that I co-chair with Senior Vice President of Student Success Subir Sahu and that has President Fry, Provost Jensen and Executive Vice President Bowman serving as executive sponsors. The council oversees EIC’s strategic leadership toward building an inclusive campus culture and climate through consistent advocacy for integration of DEI efforts within senior levels of leadership, effective allyship to historically marginalized communities at the University, and creative, thoughtful and comprehensive advisement.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the vital work and partnership of Vice Provost Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, who leads the academic DEI mission of the University. Leslie’s focus on inclusive faculty recruitment and retention and classroom climate are a critical component to Drexel’s success.

We study, teach and work in a microcosm of a world that is faced with incomprehensible challenges. Yet, we find hope and inspiration in the ways that our DEI partnerships bring us together. Let us continue to partner through the challenges and continue to celebrate our achievements towards building institutional equity and inclusive culture in our Drexel University community.

Happy Holidays,

Kimberly J. Gholston
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer