ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON – Bard College has joined the newly established Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA) to address racial inequities at liberal arts colleges. The Alliance, collaborating with the University of Southern California (USC) Race and Equity Center—led by founder and scholar Shaun Harper, a widely recognized expert in race, equity, and college student success—will provide resources to help member institutions develop and achieve equity goals, better understand and correct climate problems, avoid and recover from racial crises, and foster sustainable cultures of inclusion.
“Bard looks forward to working collaboratively with other institutions that share a commitment to addressing the issues of racial justice and equity in higher education,” said Bard College president Leon Botstein, who joined the alliance, along with 51 other college and university presidents. LACRELA was formed by a cohort of new liberal arts college presidents of color, including Carmen Twille Ambar of Oberlin College, Suzanne M. Rivera of Macalester College, G. Gabrielle Starr of Pomona College, Harry J. Elam, Jr. of Occidental College, and Lori S. White of DePauw University, to collectively address issues of racial diversity, equity, and inclusion on their campuses.
“In the midst of a reawakened reckoning on racial justice issues and other historical and contemporary inequalities, there is no more important time for liberal arts colleges, with our emphasis on critical thinking, deep inquiry and shaping diverse leaders, to work and stand together to transform teaching, scholarship and student experiences,” said White.
“The Alliance will situate Bard in immediate dialogue with peer institutions facing similar challenges and opportunities in advancing the work of equity and inclusion,” said Deirdre d’Albertis, Bard’s Dean of the College. “The resources, tools, and expertise available to member institutions through LACRELA are being developed within the specific context of small liberal arts colleges, addressing concerns often overlooked by researchers and diversity practitioners focused on large universities with very different organizational structures.”
The USC center will host monthly eConvenings throughout 2021, each focusing on a particular aspect of racial equity and offering strategies and practical approaches. Eight faculty or staff members from Bard and every member institution may participate in each session, which will be taught by leaders of national higher education organizations; tenured professors who study race relations; chief diversity officers and other administrators; and specialists from the center.
The center also is offering every Bard employee—facilities staff, food service workers, faculty members, and others—online access 24/7 to resources and tools, such as equity-related rubrics, case studies, videos, slide decks and conversational scripts. The portal is expected to launch in late spring, 2021.
In addition, Bard and other member schools will have access to a survey of more than 500,000 students at higher education institutions across the country, as well as the results of two surveys the center is planning to conduct at member institutions. The surveys will query faculty members and staff members at all levels about their perceptions of equitable opportunities for advancement and promotion; their sense of belonging; their experiences in the workplace; their encounters with racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia; their respective institution’s response to reports of abuse, unfair treatment and climate problems; and their appraisals of the institution’s commitment to equity.
For more information about the USC Race and Equity Center, visit race.usc.edu/colleges.