Diversity Plan

Diversity Plan


It is vital that students in this course broaden their journalism/mass communications experiences, with guidance from the instructor, by including in their coursework people and subjects such as ethnic, racial, and religious minorities, people with disabilities, the disadvantaged, gay men and lesbians, and other similar groups. This includes, but not limited to, developing sensitivity to language and images that may create an appearance of bias. The intent is to ensure that student work reflects the diversity of the community, and the students are exposed to diverse ideas and perspectives. In this class, it is the shared responsibility of the instructor and students to foster an environment that supports free expression.

The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture is committed to diversity in all aspects of its program, including providing a climate of inclusion as well as addressing student and faculty hiring and retention, curriculum, research and scholarship, and outreach and service. Students are encouraged to review the School’s Diversity Plan and all School instructors are required to refer to it in their class syllabus.

I. Introduction

The Robertson School is committed to diversity as a fundamental principle in fulfilling its mission. The School recognizes the critical importance of educating its students to embrace diversity as an important consideration in their careers in mass communications and as a means of contributing to society.

Diverse individuals and groups bring varied human characteristics to the School.

Diversity includes, but is not limited to, differences in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, national origin, socioeconomic class, marital status, religion and political thought.

A diverse School provides for a diverse classroom setting, which facilitates exchange among individuals with different perspectives. The School will expose students to alternative viewpoints and will encourage critical thinking related to diversity, multicultural and global issues. In addition to ensuring that diversity is an emphasis in classes and curriculum, the School will work to ensure that diversity is reflected in student, administrator, faculty and staff recruitment, and in all of its activities, initiatives, programs and outreach.

All faculty, staff and administrators have responsibility for achieving these diversity goals. The School plan is intended to empower all of those individuals, as well as students, to redress non-compliance with the principles of diversity that are detailed in this plan. To that end, this plan places the responsibility for addressing any issues or concerns that may be raised by students, faculty or staff with the Director of the School and/or other appropriate University officials.

II. Action Plan

Goal 1: Create a working and learning environment where differences are welcomed and valued to ensure a climate that offers opportunity for and support of the success of all faculty and staff


1) The School will actively communicate its commitment to diversity though its publications, recruitment and other materials. The updated diversity plan can be found on the School’s web site. The Mass Communicator will contain multiple features on minority faculty and staff.  The Urban Reporter (UJW publication) will feature stories and photos of blacks and females.  The School’s website will appropriately mention Black History Month activities/winners.

2) The School’s administrators, faculty and staff will work to ensure that the School’s students are provided with an open and inclusive environment, and will seek diversity in hiring and appointing student workers, peer advisers and members of other groups where opportunities exist to foster a diverse environment. The School’s director will ensure that search committees for administrative positions, staff, student workers, and peer advisers will have a diverse membership, and that in hiring, due consideration is given to diverse applicants. The School director also will work to ensure that diversity is a primary element of the work of other groups that are established to carry out the mission of the School of Mass Communications.

3) The School’s Student Affairs Council (undergraduate program) will consist of a diverse group of students so that students of many backgrounds will be represented in decisions affecting all of the School’s students. The School’s director will ensure that the Council’s annual membership reflects the diversity interests and commitment of the School

4) The School’s faculty annual report form will provide a means for reporting specific contributions faculty have made toward diversity and multiculturalism. Through this system, the School will monitor and also be able to provide documentation in its annual report of its advances in promoting a diverse climate.

5) The School will seek to reward and recognize administrators, faculty and staff who have contributed to the advancement of a climate of inclusiveness and acceptance by nominating such faculty for awards at the University, such as the VCU Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment, or for similar recognition by professional or academic groups. Using the School’s annual report forms, the faculty Personnel Committee and the director will ensure that administrators, faculty and staff are nominated for the PACME, Doris Budd and other awards that provide recognition for diversity efforts.

6) The School will encourage administrators, faculty and staff development in areas that will serve to promote a diverse and accepting culture and climate. The School director and/or associate director will ensure administrators, faculty and staff are provided with appropriate information and opportunities to participate in activities that promote their knowledge of and expertise in diversity seminars, programs or other learning opportunities.

As one example, faculty may complete training in the Safe Zone program, which seeks to prepare individuals to understand and accept the unique perspective and experience of gays and lesbians. Where applicable, the School will also utilize tangible evidence of the climate it seeks to create. For instance, following the Safe Zone example, individuals who complete the training are encouraged to display the Safe Zone logo as a symbol of their openness and acceptance of gays and lesbians. Administration and faculty are encouraged to participate in campus and national activities that promote diversity, such as the National Association of Black Journalists, the Staff Counsel and Black History in the Making Awards Program.

7) The School will identify faculty and staff volunteers to participate in the Green Zone initiative in support of student veterans. Participants in the Green Zone program agree to attend a workshop that provides information and resources related to issues faced by student veterans, display and a Green Zone sticker outside their office doors to let others know they are available for support to student veterans, and be a resource to other faculty, staff or students who may have questions about student veteran issues.

Goals 2, 3, and 4: Increase diversity of faculty and staff in university leadership and decision-making roles, increase the presence of diverse faculty members at all ranks and levels, and increase the presence of diverse staff members in the higher pay bands


1) All search advertisements will include language encouraging applications from diverse groups, including women and minorities. Search committee chair and Director will be responsible for reviewing any advertisements to ensure appropriate language.

2) All search committees will include membership with as wide a range of diversity as possible. The director must approve demographic composition of the proposed search committee membership.

3) The School will seek to have as broad a search is possible, utilizing many publication outlets, to have a more diverse and qualified pool of candidates from the increased exposure. Chair of search committees and director will be responsible for determining the length of the search period and appropriate publication outlets.

4) Search committees will identify and annually update venues for reaching female and minority prospects. Members of the search committees will make personal contact with diverse potential applicants, individuals and organizations which represent individuals who would add to faculty diversity. Each search committee chair should compile a report at the end of his/her tenure to provide this information for the next search committee.

5) The School will participate in conferences and similar meetings such as the National Association of Black Journalists and UNITY to increase its recognition among potential minority administrators, faculty and staff candidates. The Director will monitor and facilitate School participation on an annual basis and will report to the full faculty.

6) The School will encourage women and minority members of the faculty, administrators and staff to take part in leadership training, including but not limited to those programs sponsored by the University, academic or professional organizations.

7) As with all new administrators, faculty and staff, new minority faculty will be assigned a mentor. Mentors are encouraged to help the new administrators, faculty and staff member assimilate into the School and VCU communities. The director will assign mentors to new faculty.

8) In making committee assignments, the School will work to ensure that female and minority administrators, faculty and staff members are not overburdened with service expectations within the School. The director and Personnel Committee will maintain and review records on the amount and type of committee assignments as well as the depth and scope of other service responsibilities.

9) The School will foster collaborative faculty research that includes female and minority faculty. The director will review annual reports and make note of collaborative efforts in annual administrators, faculty and staff reviews.

Goal 5: Maintain a student body reflective of the diversity in college bound students in the Commonwealth of Virginia by ensuring a climate that offers access, opportunity and support for the success of all students


1) The School will conduct recruitment programs in venues outside of VCU to attract prospective students with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. The School will maintain and review records (locations, contacts, interaction) related to such venues/students.

2) The School will visit high schools with a diverse student population to explain careers in mass communications and to discuss undergraduate educational opportunities in the School. The School will identify prospective students and establish personal contact with them. The School will maintain and review records (location, personnel) of such visitation and relationships.

3) The School will recruit in urban areas, as well as at historically black colleges, to achieve diversity goals in all graduate programs.

4) The School will ensure diversity among administrators, faculty and staff who may assist the VCU admissions office in meeting with guidance counselors or prospective students. The director will review and approve participants’ demographics prior to activity. The School’s Student Affairs Council which assists with recruitment activities will include African American students.

5) The School will mail, on an annual basis, materials about the undergraduate program to high school journalism teachers who participate in School-sponsored workshops. The information will include a statement of the School’s diversity goals. The School will assemble information each year for coordinators of VHSL and UJW programs and other similar programs.

6) The School will make scholarship and financial aid information readily available, in addressing recruitment and retention, as a means of achieving diversity goals.

7) The School will work to obtain more scholarships for underrepresented populations and communicate these opportunities.

8) The School will form relationships with professional and academic organizations, programs and/or conferences that promote diversity, as a means of providing additional ways for students to learn about diversity, as well as to network with professionals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Director will review data from faculty annual reports to determine the appropriate level of the School participation.

Goal 6: Strengthen the capacity of university and community partners to engage in mutually beneficial partnerships that respect diversity, and include groups with diverse backgrounds


1) The School will establish and/or maintain connections with professional organizations, especially those serving people of color (such as the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association) and women (such as Advertising Women of New York, the Journalism & Women Symposium and Virginia Press Women). These connections may include faculty and student membership in the organizations, serving on committees or planning workshops, panels or conventions. The faculty annual report form will ask each administrators, faculty and staff member to include their professional organization membership.

2) The School will encourage and support attendance at the conventions of professional organizations, especially those serving people of color. For example, faculty members and students might apply to participate in the operation that provides daily news coverage of the convention; or the School might buy an advertisement in the convention program or have an information booth at the convention. The faculty annual report form will ask each administrator, faculty and staff member to include this content for the director.

3) The School will support a variety of initiatives and groups that promote diversity. Those include having representatives from relevant professional organizations visit the School as guest speakers and in other capacities; involving these groups in the School’s internship fairs and related activities; and linking to these groups’ Web sites from the School’s Web site (and vice versa). The School will invite members of professional organizations to attend the School’s internship fair.

4) The School will continue its sponsorship of the Urban Journalism Workshop, a two-week intensive summer workshop for high-school journalists who are interested in journalism. Faculty involved in this effort will report their activities in their annual report form.

5) The School will encourage administrators, faculty, staff and students to engage in service and service-learning projects that expose students to diversity issues beyond their previous experience. These projects might involve creating advertising or public relations campaigns for nonprofit groups; helping such groups produce publications; and engaging in such community projects as the Carver-VCU Partnership and mentoring programs for area public schools. Advertising, public relations and journalism classes can work with community clients. The faculty annual report form will ask each faculty member to include this content for the Director.

Goal 7: Increase the amount of diversity content in the curriculum


1) The faculty annual report form will ask each faculty member to include the content of course development that deals with diversity issues for the director. Faculty will include a summary of the diversity content in their courses on the annual report form.

2) The Assistant Director for Development will include diversity-related questions on surveys to alumni. The surveys will be administered six months after graduation to immediate past graduates.  A second survey with the same questions will be conducted with all alumni every five years.

3) Faculty will include on their annual report forms information about student projects on diversity, invitation to classes guest speakers of diverse backgrounds, and student participation in conferences and programs related to the issue of diversity.

Goal 8: Increase of the amount of faculty research and scholarship that deals with the issue of diversity


1) Administrators, faculty and staff will be encouraged to participate in and attend conferences with diversity themes. The director will use the annual report form to ask each faculty member to include this content.

2) Faculty will be encouraged to include diversity issues in their research. The annual report form will ask each faculty member to include this content.

3) Faculty will be encouraged to work in diverse collaborative research teams. The annual report form will ask each faculty member to include this content.

4) Administrators, faculty and staff will be encouraged to bring attention to and advance the discussion of diversity issues in their work, whether it is of a professional or academic nature. The annual report form will ask each administrator, faculty and staff member to include this content.

5) Administrators, faculty and staff will also report on the annual faculty report form any activities which bring attention to and advance the discussion of diversity issues as they relate to mass communications.

III. Conclusion

The School is committed to a climate in which students, faculty, staff and administrators can freely express themselves and interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds. The School will take active steps to foster a diversity-friendly environment so that all of these individuals, from various backgrounds and perspectives, will feel included. This plan also is intended to foster mutual respect among those diverse individuals. In keeping with the diverse culture of the University as a whole, the School will promote openness, acceptance and inclusiveness. The School is firmly committed to fostering free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The School will consistently endeavor to recruit, retain and promote administrators, faculty and staff members to facilitate diversity as defined above. The School will strive for representation at or above that of the overall University, especially female administrators, faculty and staff and administrators, faculty and staff of color.

The goal of the School is to attract, recruit and retain undergraduate and graduate students to achieve a diverse student body. Specifically, the School will increase undergraduate representation to meet or exceed the University’s undergraduate minority representation percentage. Graduate student minority representation will meet or exceed the percentage of all graduate students within the University. In recruiting and retaining students, the School also will monitor and attempt to address any gender disparity in the percentage of female and male students in the School.

The School will emphasize and promote diversity in its outreach and service to professional organizations, the Richmond community, high school and college students and teachers, and other groups. In such interactions, administrators, faculty, staff and students will encourage positive attitudes toward multiculturalism and showcase the School’s commitment to diversity.

Revised March 2011