At a recent Office of Academic Affairs Leadership meeting, Sharon Davies, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, shared a 25-year projection of the State of Ohio’s growing diversity. She described a projected increase in the proportion of people of color in the state from roughly 20% today to 22% in 2020 to 30% in 2040. Digging a little deeper into this impending demographic shift, it is probable that we will see the number of non-White “youth age” Ohioans (ages 14-24) surpass their White counterparts around 2025. Like the nation as a whole, Ohio is becoming more diverse very quickly, and the primary population from which Ohio State’s undergraduate student body is drawn will be composed by a majority of people of color within the next decade. Vice Provost Davies’ presentation, and the discussion that followed, provided a clear reminder of why President Drake includes Diversity and Inclusion as one of the three pillars of his 2020 Vision, along with Access, Affordability and Excellence and Community Engagement.
We, in the Libraries, aspire to build an organization in which students can see themselves and their experiences reflected. Our objective is to grow a library faculty and staff that look more like a changing Ohio. In reviewing our progress to date, it is clear that we still have a lot of work to do. Currently, underrepresented groups comprise roughly 13% of our library faculty and 16% of staff. The goal posts are moving, and we, like the rest of the university and the community of academic research libraries, are already behind.
So, what are we doing to try to close this expanding gap? To better understand what we might do going forward, I thought it would be helpful to review what we in the Libraries are currently doing to meet our diversity and inclusion objectives…
We sponsor the National Diversity in Libraries Conference and ODI’s National Conference on Diversity, Race & Learning. We are strengthening our efforts to recruit and retain a diverse workforce by implementing a number of more inclusive HR practices, including implicit bias training for search committee participants; by supporting ARL’s Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce and Leadership & Career Development Program; and through the Mary P. Key Diversity Residency Program, which includes support for related professional development, such as the Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarian from Traditionally Underrepresented Groups. Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee is comprised of dedicated faculty and staff who develop engaging programming to advance a culture of diversity and inclusion in the Libraries, including hosting speakers and creating exhibits that highlight a variety of backgrounds and experiences. And our broader exhibition and programming efforts are increasingly and purposefully including a diversity of perspectives on the topics presented.
So, it looks to me like we are making progress in living our organizational values through these investments in both funding and effort. But, given the rapidly changing demographics described above, we will need to do more if we are to have any chance of meeting our goals. I look forward to hearing from you about how we might invest further to not only create a culture of diversity and inclusion but an organization that is truly representative of the students we support and the state we live in.
Damon E. Jaggars
Vice Provost and Director of University Libraries