2020–21 DEI Initiatives: A Mid-Year Progress Report
In June 2020, Head of School Sheila Culbert committed the school to undertake 19 anti-racism initiatives over the course of the 2020–21 school year. The following is a mid-year progress report on those initiatives.
- All academic departments will continue to revise their curricula and examine their practices and policies to ensure that coursework and department policies and actions reflect the school’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.
A Loomis Chaffee education is built on the pillars of excellence and opportunity. We provide a rigorous academic environment where excellence is both modeled and expected, and we offer abundant opportunities for students to nurture their intellectual curiosity. At the heart of a Loomis education is the curriculum taught by our faculty. Curricular decisions are made at the departmental level with guidance from the school’s Curriculum Committee. A list of current courses is available in the 2020–21 Course Offerings & Descriptions.
Over the past several years, all academic departments have undertaken efforts to design and implement curricula and pedagogical practices that reflect the school’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This year, departments received additional support in these endeavors from the Kravis Center for Excellence in Teaching’s new assistant directors of diversity, equity, and inclusion curriculum development, Miles Morgan and Fiona Mills. Please refer to Section IV of this report for examples of department-level DEI work.
As noted in Section II of this report, the school transformed the ninth- and 10th-grade Seminars in the Best Self and the Common Good to create the Thursday Advisory Group (TAG) program, a program for students in all grades designed to address issues of identity. In Fall Term 1 and 2, TAG discussions addressed the following: How does my identity shape my perceptions? How do the identities of others shape my perception of them? What is at stake in the U.S. presidential election, and how should we talk about and become informed about politics? How is my view of social justice affected by my experiences and identity? In Winter Term 1, TAG discussions addressed the following: How can we talk back to anxiety? What do the holidays mean to me? How can I best prepare for Loomis Chaffee's commemoration of the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.?
- A committee of faculty and administrators will review graduation requirements and propose the changes necessary to ensure that all students graduate with an appropriate level of cultural competency and critical understanding of social justice.
Addressing issues of cultural competency and social justice are important educational objectives for the school. That work has begun in the Thursday Advisory Group (TAG) program referenced above and in individual departments’ revised curricula. Making a formal change to the school’s graduation requirements will require a thorough review of all graduation requirements by a committee of faculty and administrators. We had hoped to start that work in the 2020–21 school year, but with the unexpected demands on faculty this year related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we may need to move the review of graduation requirements to the 2021–22 school year.
- The school will conduct a community-wide inclusivity climate assessment.
Loomis Chaffee has hired Derrick Gay to conduct a school-wide inclusivity climate assessment. Mr. Gay, a diversity and inclusion educator, strategist, and doctor of education, conducted a nine-hour workshop with the Head’s Administrative Team in August 2020 and a workshop with the Board of Trustees in October, and he worked with the faculty in the fall and winter. The climate assessment will be conducted in 2021.
- The school will review our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training for faculty and students in the dormitories and review how students are encouraged to pursue and are chosen for leadership positions at the school.
The 2020–21 dorm life curriculum offered several sessions on diversity, equity, and inclusion starting in Fall Term 2 (October 15–November 19). The Dean of Students Office will work with the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the second half of the year to develop a strategy to encourage a diverse slate of students to pursue leadership opportunities and to review with faculty how student leadership positions are filled.
The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion will work with alumni to form an alumni group to support our students of color.
Starting in the summer of 2020, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion began working with a group of Black alumni to form a Black alumni mentoring program for Loomis Chaffee’s Black students. The idea for the mentoring program came from a group of Black alumni who expressed a strong desire to guide and support the school’s current Black students. The trained alumni volunteers were paired with interested students and began meeting on November 17, 2020. The program supplements the school’s advising system. Participating students, like all Loomis students, have faculty advisors who oversee their academic program, help them create positive academic and social experiences on campus, and serve as contacts with their families. Through the new mentoring program, the alumni volunteers are available to help Black students navigate other aspects of independent school life, including those as simple as “Where in this area can I find skincare products that are best for my skin type?” and as far-reaching as “I am interested in a particular field for my career. Do you know someone in that field who could offer advice?”
Faculty and Staff
- Summer 2020 Professional Development: All faculty are required to read Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning and either White Fragility or Waking Up White.
Faculty completed the required readings over the summer and held book discussions as part of the opening faculty meetings in late August 2020.
- The Henry R. Kravis '63 Center for Excellence in Teaching will provide ongoing professional development to our faculty around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Kravis Center will have additional personnel as they take on this responsibility and will include DEI discussions in new faculty orientation as well as in ongoing faculty development.
In an effort to address DEI issues that are specific to the curriculum and to the academic experience, the school added two assistant directors of diversity, equity, and inclusion curriculum development to the Kravis Center for Excellence in Teaching. Faculty members Miles Morgan and Fiona Mills work with departments on issues of curricular inclusion and diversity. They also work directly with individual faculty members and with the faculty as a whole to ensure that our classrooms are both safe and brave, equitable, and challenging.
Through their work in the Kravis Center, Miles and Fiona have been involved in a host of initiatives on campus. This summer they created an interactive catalogue of tiered DEI resources for our community that was scaffolded to multiple entry points, ranging from beginner to expert, across various topics, including whiteness, intersectionality, anti-racism, learning abilities, and indigenous/Native experiences, to name a few.
Miles and Fiona also meet one-on-one with teachers to coach them in a range of areas, including designing inclusive curricula at the individual level as well as the department level. They also serve as sounding boards for teachers trouble-shooting DEI issues in their classrooms and assist teachers in creating lesson plans that incorporate DEI principles. Fiona and Miles led a faculty-wide DEI training session during an opening days faculty meeting in late August and are slated to present again at faculty days later this year. They also led training sessions for the new faculty cohort both in the summer and in the fall term. Lastly, Miles and Fiona have begun meeting with individual departments to create DEI workshops tailored to the specific needs of each department.
The school will implement a required SEED training protocol for all administrative and teaching faculty.
SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) participants “explore their own education in relation to race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual identity, abilities, and age, and how these factors currently impact their school, classrooms, community, or workplace. They consider how they can use their classrooms, communities, or workplaces to create a more equitable environment for all.” The school has developed a plan to rotate all faculty through SEED training; the first cohort began its studies in September 2020. Chemistry teacher Emily Garvin, English teacher Fiona Mills, and Dean of DEI Elizabeth Parada are leading a group of 12 faculty members over the course of eight meetings that span the school year through the SEED program. Enrollment for the SEED summer 2021 program already has begun.
- The Head's Administrative Team will undertake further training around DEI issues in summer 2020.
In the summer of 2019, the Head’s Administrative Team (HAT)1 read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and participated in a workshop with Liza Talusan, a widely respected educator, facilitator, and change partner in the area of diversity, equity, inclusion, and leadership. HAT continued its DEI work in the summer of 2020 with nine hours of training with Derrick Gay, a diversity and inclusion educator and strategist. HAT members also read and discussed John Palfrey’s Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces, a look at how issues of diversity and free expression coexist on college and independent school campuses. HAT members, like the faculty at large, also read from a selection of books that included Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning and How to be an Antiracist and Debby Irving’s Waking Up White, among others.
The Head’s Administrative Team recognizes that issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are woven into the fabric of our school’s community and culture. HAT's work on these issues is not complete with one workshop conducted or one book read a year. The work will always be ongoing.
We will improve our process for the recruitment and retention of administrators, faculty, and staff of color. The Dean of Faculty Office and Human Resources will develop new recruitment and hiring strategies as well as DEI training programs for new faculty and staff, and will establish a set of metrics to measure progress toward these goals.
In preparation for the 2020–21 school year, the Office of the Dean of Faculty hired 12 new teaching faculty members, six of whom are faculty of color (four BIPOC, one Asian American, and one Middle Eastern American). Over the last four years the school has seen steady improvement with regard to the number of teaching faculty of color hired: 20 percent of our new hires in 2017–18; 40 percent in 2018–19; 40 percent in 2019–20; and 50 percent for this school year. Over the past three years, 18 out of 42 (43 percent) of teachers hired identify as people of color. During this three-year stretch, nearly every search conducted had at least one, and often several, finalists who identified as people of color. We also have had success attending recruiting fairs explicitly geared towards candidates of color, including Carney Sandoe’s Diversity Forum in Philadelphia. Moving forward our goal is to advance from passive hiring to active recruitment of candidates of color. To accomplish this goal we are enlisting the help of our faculty — recently hired employees have provided us with over 10 leads and have been directly responsible for three new hires in the past four years — and our robust and active alumni network. A set of best practices for both faculty recruitment and retention will be created and presented for approval of the Head’s Administrative Team and the Board of Trustees by the end of the academic year.
In the first two months of the 2020–21 school year, seven of the nine staff members hired were staff of color. In the 2020 calendar year, 11 of our 28 new staff and administrative faculty hires (just under 40 percent of new hires) identified as candidates of color. While this is a significant improvement from 2019 where 25 percent of our staff and administrative faculty hires were candidates of color, we acknowledge there is still room for improvement. In February of 2020, the director of human resources attended a National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference that focused on the major phases of hiring: articulating vision and goals of the institution; widening and deepening the candidate pool; advertising and outreach; interviewing and recruiting; and, finally, welcoming and retaining employees. This program offered pragmatic advice and strategies to increase diversity in hiring, mitigate bias, and think outside the box for recruiting candidates. The next step is to audit the school’s overall hiring process for staff and administrative faculty. This audit will evaluate all steps and protocols we currently have in place. Following the audit, the Human Resources Office will revise the hiring process as needed for review by the Head’s Administrative Team.
- The school will develop a protocol for students and employees to report incidents of racism and/or bias. This protocol will be shared with all community members and will include ways for the school to evaluate and respond to all incidents reported. The protocol will be put in place beginning in the 2020–21 school year. Data collected through this protocol will help us to monitor the school and workplace climates.
This summer the school began work on a new protocol for reporting any incidents of racism and/or bias. All such incidents will be reported to the dean of diversity, equity, & inclusion for initial investigation. The dean will work closely with the director of human resources, dean of faculty, and/or dean of students to investigate and respond to all reports. The DEI dean is responsible for collecting and analyzing data on reported incidents to help the school monitor its climate of inclusivity. An initial draft of the protocol has been written and will be reviewed in January, with a plan to communicate and implement the protocols during Winter Term 2.
- The Office of Admission will review the school’s admission process and will address barriers to applying for and accessing a Loomis Chaffee education. This work includes consideration of implementing a test-optional policy in the application process.
The Office of Admission conducts anti-bias training throughout the year for its personnel in relation to interviewing and application review. It also regularly reviews its admission process to address any barriers to application and admission. This summer the Admission Office incorporated more contextual questions into its application and interview rubric to ensure that admission associates are reviewing students in as equitable a manner as possible. The office also implemented an online interview scheduling system and has planned virtual recruitment programs on evenings and weekends. Most significantly, the office adopted a test-optional policy for the next two years. The question of whether to “go test optional” has been a discussion at the college and university level for decades in relation to access for lower income and first-generation college students. Against this backdrop rose COVID-19 and the challenge of equal access to standardized testing across the nation and the world. Given this context, it was not difficult for Loomis Chaffee to decide to implement a test-optional admission policy. The school’s admission team can still make good decisions without test scores and hopes that removing this barrier for Loomis Chaffee applicants and their families will alleviate some of the academic and/or financial stress surrounding standardized testing. Anything the school can do to make the admission process less anxiety-provoking for prospective Pelicans without compromising our ability to determine if they are well suited for Loomis is always a focal point for discussion in the Admission Office — not just in the new normal of pandemic life. In two years, the admission team will assess the effectiveness of this policy and whether to continue offering this option.
- The school will continue to commit the resources needed to offer a robust financial aid program, one that allows us to enroll students from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and to provide those students with a complete student experience. Financial aid will remain a top fundraising priority for the school.
In 2019–20, Loomis Chaffee awarded $10.5 million in aid to 33 percent of our students. This money represents the second largest portion of the school’s annual operating budget, second only behind salaries and benefits. In Loomis Chaffee’s recent capital campaign, Our Time Is Now, the school raised almost $36 million for financial aid. Among the programs funded is the Kravis Scholars Program, an ongoing commitment of Henry R. Kravis ’63, who established the program in 2012 for students with significant financial need from culturally, geographically, and ethnically under-represented backgrounds. In addition to competitive, need-based grants for those who qualify, each Kravis Scholar receives a fully funded pre-Loomis summer enrichment experience, a grant for overseas travel, a laptop computer, and access to a mentoring program providing support throughout the Kravis Scholar’s time at Loomis and beyond.
- We will develop a protocol to ensure that with all of our construction projects, we seek and receive bids from minority contractors and that we award contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses.
Since committing to this initiative, the school’s first major construction project — the John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols Center for Theater and Dance — went out to bid. As a condition of the bidding process, the school asked contractors to commit to a target of hiring minority- and women-owned businesses for at least 20 percent of their subcontract work. The school also asked that the project workforce include a target of at least 30 percent people of color and women. As of the writing of this report, we anticipate that the Nichols Center construction project will meet or exceed these diversity goals.
Examine data collection policies and develop a protocol that represents best practices in the industry. A committee was formed in 2019–20 to do this work and continues its work this year with the goal to make any changes to the school’s data collection protocols for the 2021–22 school year.
The committee is continuing its work this school year and will have more to report by June 2021. As an initial step, parents now have access to update their students’ race/ethnicity data as part of the enrollment/re-enrollment process, and faculty and staff have access to modify their self-reported race/ethnicity through the Veracross portal.
- All administrative offices will conduct an audit of DEI efforts in their respective work during the summer of 2020 and will set goals for DEI work in the 2020–21 school year.
While much of the summer of 2020 was spent dealing with issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, several administrative offices across campus also worked to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their respective work. As referenced earlier in this report, the Office of Admission researched and proposed a test-optional policy that the school adopted at the end of the summer. That policy will be in effect for the next two years and then re-evaluated. Several members of the admission team are involved in DEI programs across campus, including an associate director of admission who is also an associate dean of diversity, equity & inclusion and advisor to the Brothers in Unity affinity group, and two members who serve on the school’s Climate Inclusion Committee.
The Office of Strategic Communications & Marketing has crafted a DEI curriculum for its office for the 2020–21 school year. The first session was conducted during the office’s retreat in mid-October and focused on issues of privilege and unconscious bias. Additional sessions will address fostering an inclusive climate, conducting a DEI audit of past work, and considering the office’s role in meeting the school’s DEI goals and communicating the stories of our school community, among others. Two communications team members sit on the school’s Climate Inclusion Committee, and a third also serves as an assistant dean of diversity, equity & inclusion.
Addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion was a major part of the College Guidance Office’s retreat in August. The goals that the office set for the 2020–21school year include inviting more HBCU institutions to the school’s college fairs/virtual visits this fall; adding programming for first-generation college parents; meeting with first-generation BIPOC students one-on-one as sophomores, a year before the normal cycle of meetings starts for Loomis students; and having more BIPOC and female representation in the College Guidance Office speakers and webinar series.The office also discussed at length how to better support and encourage BIPOC students as they develop their college lists. All five college counselors are active participants in the school’s Becoming Anti-Racist White Educators (BARWE) program; one of the counselors helps lead the school’s Women’s Group; and the office is represented on the Climate Inclusion Committee.
The school will add more updates on the work of administrative offices as the year continues.
In the summer of 2020, the Board of Trustees established the Committee on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, chaired by Trustee Erik Cliette ’84. The committee will monitor the progress in meeting the school’s DEI goals as well as review reports regarding the handling of any issues regarding racism.
The Trustee Committee on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion met for the first time this fall. At that meeting committee members reviewed the first draft of this report and began revising the school’s Diversity Mission Statement. The committee is chaired by Trustee Erik Cliette ’84 and co-chaired by Trustee Courtney Ackeifi ’06.
Also this fall, the full Board of Trustees met with Derrick Gay for a three-hour DEI workshop.
The school will establish a committee to analyze if and how bias may be influencing our disciplinary process and outcomes over the past few years. Committee membership will include BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) alumni as well as current faculty and students.
Preliminary conversations about the discipline system have indicated that the scope of this analysis should encompass the entire disciplinary process, from minor violations to options for sanctioning, such as a restorative justice models for outcomes. Once the school’s climate assessment is completed, the school will form a committee to study and analyze the issue of bias in the disciplinary process.
The school will publish an annual report on diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice at Loomis Chaffee. That report will include facts and figures related to DEI work, a summary of current DEI initiatives, progress toward previously established goals, and goals for the future. The report will be published before the beginning of each school year and shared with the entire Loomis Chaffee community.
This January 2021 report serves as the first progress report on the school's DEI work, with a focus on the DEI initiatives announced in June 2020.
Section IV: DEI Updates by Academic Department
1 HAT membership: head of school; associate head of school; associate head for external relations; dean of faculty; dean of enrollment; dean of student life; dean of diversity, equity & inclusion; chief financial officer; director of the physical plant; director of human resources; director of COVID-19 response and crisis management; director of strategic communications & marketing