The MU faculty council voted to endorse the "Inclusive Excellence framework"-a set of guidelines proposed to help Mizzou achieve its diversity, equity and inclusion goals-at its meeting Thursday.
Faculty members were divided over the document's approval, sharing concerns that the document is out of touch with MU's current conditions. Despite the issues raised, only one faculty member voted against it.
"It's a weak start, but a start nonetheless," one professor said.
Another faculty member asked others to remember that this is solely a framework, and there are only so many specifics it can include.
The endorsement comes over 16 months after the UM Board of Curators implemented a series of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts following racially charged protests on MU's campus.
Four goals are laid out in the framework. They include:
-Achieving a more diverse and inclusive undergraduate and graduate student body, faculty and staff
-Creating and sustaining an organizational environment that acknowledges and celebrates diversity and employs inclusive practices throughout its daily operations
-Engaging students, faculty, staff and alumni and volunteers in learning varied perspectives of domestic and international diversity, inclusion equity and social justice
-Creating and sustaining an institutional infrastructure that effectively supports progress in achieving diversity goals in the University Strategic Plan
The framework has specific strategies and draws from past diversity studies that were conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as well as by a senior research professor at Claremont University.
"In this day and age, our work around diversity and inclusion needs to be metric-driven," Kevin McDonald, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for the UM System told ABC 17 News.
MU has a goal of doubling the percentage of historically underrepresented faculty by 2020. Currently, less than seven percent of MU faculty members are from underrepresented groups.
"If we increase the diversity amongst our faculty, staff and students, compositionally, then we've arrived," McDonald said.
The U.M. System has a $1.7 million recurring budget for diversity efforts. It's unclear how much of that will be given to Mizzou, but the university's diversity and inclusion office has almost $50,000 in withholds for the current fiscal year. Some professors at the faculty council meeting expressed concerns that the diversity budget is too low.
"Even amongst budget cuts, we have to continue to think creatively to move forward in a number of different areas, and diversity is no different," McDonald said.
In order to move to the implementation phase, the framework must also be approved by staff and students.