In June 2020, Washington University committed to a number of concrete actions geared toward addressing systemic racism and its toll on our Black communities.
The information on this page provides updates on the progress of each goal expressed in Chancellor Andrew D. Martin’s message to the university community. The progress reflected here is part of a far broader range of university initiatives to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.
Establish an Equity and Inclusion Council
To help align priorities with resources, track progress and guide our work, we have created the Washington University Equity and Inclusion Council (WUEIC), comprised of students, faculty and staff. The council provides a sustainable structure for prioritizing and implementing the important recommendations of our Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, which submitted its action plan in 2017. The council will serve as a convening body that creates and maintains collective and representative voice, alignment, and accountability for our institutional commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Council formed (New Equity and Inclusion Council to begin work).
Reimagine campus safety in partnership with our students
It is vitally important that all members of our university community, especially our Black students, faculty, staff and visitors, feel safe and have access to appropriate resources to support their security and well-being. We commit to engaging in an open and transparent review process, inclusive of and in consultation with our Black student leaders, to study our approach to safety, and to ensure that we have the right structures in place to keep our community safe.
- Report issued (Public Safety Committee concludes work, releases report, February 26, 2021).
- Committee formed (Washington University begins work to examine public safety, September 25, 2020).
- Collected feedback from Danforth Campus students, staff and faculty through a campus-wide survey and small group engagement sessions.
Recommit ourselves to diversity in hiring and contracting
We are renewing our commitment to recruiting, hiring and supporting the university’s diverse staff and faculty workforce, and expanding our Supplier Diversity Initiative, which identifies viable opportunities at the university for qualified diverse enterprises and helps to sustain these companies over the long term.
- Drafted a five-year plan to increase purchasing from diverse companies from 4% to 8% of our total spend, support the growth of underrepresented firms and individuals by establishing The HUB (Helping Underrepresented Businesses) which includes a Diverse Business Accelerator; expand the number of M/WBE firms the university hires; and connect over 1,000 under-represented minorities (URMs) to job opportunities in St. Louis through workforce development programs. These initiatives, with the collaboration of many external partners, will create a sustainable path to diversify spend and workforce to be reflective of the St. Louis community over the next five years and beyond.
- The university’s Human Resources department tracks the demographics of our workforce and has analyzed demographic data, trends across job levels, and retention rates for URMs. Plans are in development for an employee survey, examination of hiring and onboarding practices, and enhancing strategies for diversifying our workforce by intentionally recruiting qualified candidates and working with hiring managers to ensure diversity in hiring pools.
- The university has made a commitment to increase the minimum wage for regular employees and basic service contractors to $15/hour in July 2021. At that time, the university minimum wage will be 46% higher than the Missouri minimum wage, which will increase to $10.30 in January 2021.
Build a world-class research program on race
We have a formidable faculty doing pioneering research on race, and we are aggressively building on this strength in numerous ways.
- Building on years of strategic recruitment and program development in the study of race, and inequality more broadly, the university formally launched the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity (CRE2), which already has 80 affiliates and has inaugurated its grants, faculty fellowships, labs and other initiatives designed to galvanize faculty research.
- Launched a cluster hire of 12 new faculty members doing pioneering research on race and/or ethnicity. Following a competitive initial round, the first set of hires in the cluster was approved by the provost. The second round of proposals got underway during the spring 2020 semester.
- Beyond the 12 hires in the cluster, we continue to aggressively pursue hires of faculty members doing field-defining work in race, including in African & African-American Studies.
Engage more deeply with St. Louis and strengthen our investment in regional efforts to combat racial inequities
St. Louis is home to exceptional organizations and individuals leading the fight against racial inequity. They are on the front lines of this vital work and we are committed to their success.
- In August 2020, named Henry Webber as the university’s first executive vice chancellor for civic affairs and strategic planning to lead the WashU Compact, a commitment between the university and the greater St. Louis region as we look to strengthen our community partnerships and impact, to move from being “in St Louis” to “for St Louis.”
- Established an internal working group to help us plan the process for shaping the WashU Compact.
- Made an initial contribution of $250,000 to the Racial Healing + Justice Fund, a community-designed fund that invests in the community based on guidance from residents who are directly affected by racial inequity.
- Made an initial contribution of $50,000 toward a total commitment of $100,000 over two years to Invest STL, an organization that seeks to support the equitable redevelopment of St. Louis neighborhoods that have experienced decades of systemic disinvestment.
- Advanced major initiatives that include:
- The Social Policy Institute, in partnership with Mastercard, is leading a six-part event series Inclusive Growth in St. Louis, which will investigate who is left out of St. Louis’ economic growth benefits, the policies that have led to the unequal distribution of opportunities, and actionable recommendations to become a more inclusive economy.
- The Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab (SEI Lab), a joint initiative of the Brown School and Olin Business School, has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to begin Capital Access Prosperity St. Louis, a project to explore how entrepreneurship affects equity and mobility.
- The Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation, which has led the redevelopment of Forest Park Southeast, has expanded its technical assistance and financial support to neighborhoods north of Delmar Boulevard.
Reaffirm our support for causes that advance equity
We have an opportunity – and responsibility – to take a stand on issues that are driving systemic structures on the local, state and federal level.
- Strongly supported the successful campaign for Medicaid expansion in Missouri.
- Through the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, encouraged complete participation in the 2020 U.S. Census, which determines government funding for schools, hospitals and other vital programs in the region.
Invest in our people and programs
Redouble our efforts to ensure that we are supporting every individual who studies, teaches or works on our campuses with the resources they need in order to succeed. We are especially called at this moment to focus our attention on our Black students, faculty and staff, along with other underrepresented groups, to deepen our capacity for supporting their success.
- As the university begins its strategic planning process, a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion will be strongly integrated as an essential aspect of the entire planning process and will inform every piece of the plan. Through this process we will identify specific visions and resource needs to support our Black community and other underrepresented groups.
- Similarly, the work of the WUEIC will inform priorities, commitments and strategies for institutional sustainability and resource allocation.
- We have made significant investments this year in supporting our students from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds by providing additional resources to students through our Office for Student Success.
- We have admitted the first incoming class of students utilizing the WashU Pledge, which provides a free undergraduate education to incoming, full-time Missouri and southern Illinois students who meet the financial need criteria.
This progress report is by no means an indicator that our work is anywhere near done. We are committed to continuing our efforts to address these critical issues on our campus and in our community.