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Viewing: Anti-Racism and Equity Institute

Last approved: Wed, 24 Mar 2021 20:19:41 GMT

Last edit: Fri, 12 Feb 2021 14:01:39 GMT

Therese Tillett (ttillet1) (Fri, 12 Feb 2021 14:01:39 GMT): Approved by Faculty Senate on 8 February 2021.
Therese Tillett (ttillet1) (Wed, 24 Mar 2021 20:19:34 GMT): Approved by the Kent State University Board of Trustees on 10 March 2021.
Academic Administrative Structure
Anti-Racism and Equity Institute
Fall 2021
University Level
Melody Tankersley
Establishing an Institute
To fulfill the vision of establishing an enduring interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary institutional collaborative designed to advance and promote scholarship, education, and activism about racial, ethnic, and social justice through rigorous and accessible scholarship and creative activity. Given the historical and contemporary manifestations of racial prejudice, discrimination and violence in the United States, the immediate focus of the Institute will be on anti-Black racism as well as its intersections with, for example, gender, sexuality, class, and immigrant status. The Institute will address racial inequities that systemically impact Black, Indigenous, Latinx and people of Color. The Institute will be designed to bring together critical race scholars who are distributed across the Kent State system and serve as a scholarly hub for existing and new scholars.
Units Consulted
College of Arts and Sciences
College of Communication and Information
College of Education, Health and Human Services
College of Public Health
College of the Arts
College of Aeronautics and Engineering
College of Architecture and Environmental Design
College of Business Administration
College of Nursing
University College
All College Deans were consulted via the Provost-level weekly Dean’s meetings and all were in favor of the institute. Colleges that contained faculty who expressed interest in joining the institute have corresponding letters of support from each College Dean. Also consulted was The Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Proposal Summary for a Policy:


Proposal Summary to Establish or Revise an Academic Administrative Structure

One hundred and six faculty and staff self-identified as being aligned with the mission of the proposed institute and expressed an interest in being a member. Eighty-nine are full-time faculty members currently engaged in race research, education, and activism. Faculty range from early career to full professors, are representative of the highest quality faculty typical of Kent State University, and are fully embedded in the structures of multiple academic units. Ten colleges are represented (Aeronautics and Engineering, Architecture and Environmental Design, Arts, Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Communication and Information, Education, Health, and Human Services, Nursing, Public Health, and University College). Letters of support are included from the Deans of all these colleges. Disciplines are truly representative of the range of disciplines on campus and include Biological Sciences, Chemistry, English, Gender Studies, Geography, History, Mathematics, Modern and Classical Languages, Pan-African Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychological Sciences, Peace and Conflict Studies, Sociology, Art, Theatre, Dance, Music, Higher Education Administration, Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences, Foundation Leadership and Administration, Speech Pathology and Audiology, Teaching Learning and Curriculum, Engineering, Aeronautics, Economics, Accounting, Information Science, Visual Communication Design, Media and Journalism, Communication Studies, Health Management, Public Health, and Nursing.

The Institute will feature undergraduate and graduate student research participation opportunities in the form of fellowships. Students will already have been admitted to an academic home and thus will have met the admission and quality benchmarks determined by the home unit.

As an institute, there will be no credit-bearing courses or curriculum initially. If any credentialling is sponsored by the institute in the future, including, but not limited to, micro-credentials, courses, certificates, or minors, all will be interdisciplinary in nature and will not encroach on offerings by existing academic units. Any proposed offerings will undergo full review through the curricular process.
The proposed institute clearly supports Kent State’s vision “To be a community of change agents whose collective commitment to learning sparks epic thinking, meaningful voice and invaluable outcomes to better our society”. The institute’s focus on anti-racism is a clear call to action to better our society. The proposed institute is consistent with Kent State core values, particularly: “active inquiry and discovery that expands knowledge and human understanding,” “engagement that inspires positive change,” “diversity of culture, beliefs, identity and thought,” and “a collaborative community.” The Institute would support the Kent State strategic plan, particularly Priority 1: Students First, “adopt a student engagement strategy that enhances learning through increased participation in high-impact experiences,” and “strengthen diversity and the cultural competence of students, faculty and staff system wide;” Priority 2: A Distinctive Kent State, “build a culture of research and innovation;” and Priority 4: Regional Impact, "serve as the innovative engine and engaged partner to meet community needs and enhance quality of life in the region and state." We will lead Northeast Ohio in this very timely, important work, and work towards making Kent State a destination/exemplar of race scholarship and student engagement in the region and state.
By its very definition, the institute will be interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary. Interested membership currently involves over 100 individuals from over 30 disciplines. The institute will provide space, tools, support, and opportunities to formally engage all these faculty, students, and staff on issues of anti-racism and equity. Currently, many faculty members, in particular faculty of color, are undertaking race research in the isolation of a single academic unit. Importantly, independent research has demonstrated that this type of scholarship in of itself has been extremely undervalued and marginalized compared with “mainstream” scholarship, especially within predominantly white academic units. Kent State faculty have confirmed this in their responses to both the COACHE (Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education) and Institutional Climate Surveys and have indicated that they feel isolated. The creation of this institute is therefore a way to bring together the approximately 100 researchers that may be working in isolation. It will help us realize the goal of establishing an enduring and important interdisciplinary institutional hub for faculty, students, and community members engaged in race and anti-racism scholarship, activism, and education, and elevate Kent State University to be an exemplar in race scholarship.
Kent State has a well-recognized activist tradition as exemplified by the responses to the events surrounding May 4 and the creation of the Department of Pan-African studies through the activism of Black United Students. The University has leveraged this history of activism to create areas of academic scholarship and engagement, to include the Departments of Pan African Studies and the School of Peace and Conflict Studies. Additionally, as the University actively engages in anti-racism efforts in response to recent events on campus and across the nation, it is important that we recognize, elevate, and celebrate the important scholarship of the Kent State Community currently engaged in anti-racism and equity scholarship.
As a result of recent events both here at Kent State and across the nation, there have been calls for the reinforcement of our shared commitment to racial equity and social justice. In this critical moment, the creation of a research initiative at Kent State University would have the enormous benefit of addressing racism and other social inequities promoting the work of race and equity scholarship produced by faculty and graduates at Kent State University, and disseminating it to diverse educational platforms.
This proposed institute will be unique at Kent State. Regionally, there are three institutes/centers with overlapping missions with our proposal but we believe they are significantly different. Cleveland State houses the Diversity Institute (TDI) which is an academic research and action center working to identify issues within Cleveland State University that can be addressed through a diversity, equity, and inclusion framework. The Social Justice Law Center at Case Western Reserve University is dedicated to addressing the inequities in our legal system. Finally, the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University focuses on building the capacity of allied social justice organizations and investing in efforts that support equity and inclusion. None of these three regional institutes/centers focus on anti-racism. Nationally, institutes/centers that focus on anti-racism including the Antiracist Research and Policy Center (American University, Washington D.C.), the Center for Antiracist Research (Boston University), and the Race and Equity Center (University of Southern California). All of these are distal to Kent State University.
The Institute will have the benefit of excellent existing faculty, staff, and students committed to the bulk of the work of the Institute. However, we propose to create partnerships (and memberships) with external stakeholders that will enable the Institute to leverage additional resources. Additionally, the institute will engage in major fundraising activities for scholarships, student fellowships, endowed chairs, and professors.
The Institute will be headed by a Director who will report to the VP for the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs (dotted line to the Provost). An executive committee composed of faculty, staff and students (including the VP for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) will inform and advise the institute leadership on matters of operations and direction. A steering committee comprised of members and other relevant stakeholders (e.g. Deans of involved colleges) will inform and help drive policy and structural development. An external advisory board, representing critical external partners, will help drive the operation, work, and goals of the Institute in relation to the broader community. This structure duplicates that already in place for the Brain Health Institute (reports to VP for Research), and the Advance Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute (reports to VP for Research).
The Institute will need space for a director's office as well as offices for visiting professors, faculty fellows, and potential post-docs. We anticipate 5 offices initially. Additionally, institute members will need access to a meeting space, and a community space. We anticipate that this can be accomplished with existing space on Kent Campus with little, to no, renovation needed.
The anticipated initial operating budget is proposed to be $200,000. This is proposed to cover administrative support, an annual visiting professor of practice/activist in residence, a faculty fellows program, annual symposia and speaker events, scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students, a small travel pool, and a competitive seed grant program.
The director of the institute will be required to submit an annual report, per university policy, and the institute will undergo a review every 5 years, per university policy.
January 2021 – submit proposal for EPC meeting for ultimate approval by the Board of Trustees in March, 2021
March 2021 – Launch internal search for Director
April – June 2021 – Formalize membership categories and formalize membership base
Fall 2021 – Formal Launch of Institute
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