January 2021 to February 2022
Submitted to the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion
May 2, 2022
Submitted to the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion
May 2, 2022
In The Media School’s 8th year, we continue to weave a focus on diversity and inclusion into our faculty and staff hiring practices, curriculum, programming, research, and other initiatives. A priority from our 2020 diversity report continues to drive everything we undertake: committing to diversity and inclusion is a mindset that permeates all our work and initiatives, so efforts to diversify who we are, whom we attract, and what we cover in the curriculum are simply part of our planning and implementation processes.
Our school has two active diversity committees – one faculty, one staff. The Media School deans collaborate with these committees as well as with our unit directors and graduate and undergraduate directors to help the diversity committees meet their goals. The Associate Dean regularly meets with the faculty diversity committee to share updates and listen to the committee’s concerns, and the deans have responded to many committee suggestions in recent years, from pursuing more minority faculty hires to restoring support for the scholarly journal Black Camera. Diversity committee chairs and representatives are invited to provide regular updates and reports at full faculty and staff meetings to both increase the level of awareness and encourage greater participation with DEI efforts.
As demonstrated in this report, we actively implement and expand many DEI strategies throughout The Media School. Now, and in the coming years, we hope our collective academic and professional endeavors will foster and shape a supportive, inclusive culture for our school’s students, faculty, and staff.
A vital objective for The Media School is to enroll, support, and graduate a diverse student population, and we continually develop our recruitment pipeline of potential underrepresented minority (URM) students. We have increased personnel and fiscal resources for our pre-college programs, and our school looks to leverage alumni relationships to partner with schools and community organizations in areas with large URM student populations. As an example, our High School Journalism Institute offers multicultural scholarships to pay the registration fees for URM students, removing a potential financial barrier for prospective students. We will pilot a peer mentor program for underrepresented students who earn direct admission to the school. Our student services staff are adding additional programming to Welcome Week activities to connect URM undergraduate and graduate students to resources, faculty, and each other. And we have made use of campus resources to present an increased range of options for student extracurricular activities.
The Media School continues to increase its financial support for the recruitment and retention of URM students. We administer and award scholarship funds created for underrepresented populations, including the Arnolt Diversity Scholarship, Mark LeBien High School Journalism Fund for Diversity, and the Scott C. Schurz Latin American Journalism Scholarship. Our aid optimization partnership with the Office of Scholarships has a goal of increasing student diversity through additional campus scholarship awards. We also have focused on expanding the representation of URM students in the school’s undergraduate honors programs. We look forward to our continued collaboration with the Hudson & Holland Scholars Program on partnership funding and supplemental programming for diverse scholars. Finally, beginning in fall 2022, the graduate program is allocating one of its top-off recruitment packages for an incoming applicant with an expressed interest in studying matters of race and ethnicity in media.
The school produced a “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Focus Group Report,” a 2021 initiative of Student Services to plan and facilitate a series of focus groups for Media School undergraduates from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds. Six virtual focus groups and individual interviews were held. Eleven undergraduate students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds participated in these sessions and each class, first year through senior, was represented. Key areas of strength identified in the report included: students feel supported by faculty and academic advisors; our school offers excellent programs and the freedom to explore; and valuable learning opportunities are offered outside the classroom. Areas for improvement included: there are too few faculty and academic support staff of color; some students experience microaggressions and discrimination; the school would benefit from diversity, equity, and inclusion training; and a lack of cohesion and community among students and student organizations. The school deans worked with the Director of Student Services, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and the Chair of the faculty diversity committee to share the findings of this report with the school’s faculty and staff in fall 2021. Many of the initiatives and projects discussed here—the implementation of the strategic faculty hiring plan, the addition of the Faculty Inclusive Excellence Series, and the hiring of a new academic advisor to focus on the needs of URM students—seek to address problems identified in the focus group report, and we will continue to seek ways to make our school a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our students.
Given the current higher education landscape, ongoing adverse effects of the pandemic and our nation’s changing demographics, it is increasingly difficult to enroll diverse undergraduate students, as they are heavily recruited by other schools and offered lucrative competing financial aid packages. Meeting this challenge will require additional funding to ensure that our school remains competitive and attractive to prospective URM students. One way of doing this is showcasing the school’s range of diversity courses and highlighting initiatives that are already an essential part of our curriculum and programming, such as the new undergraduate course in Race, Media, and Social Justice that was offered last fall and the minor in Black Cinema and Media Studies. We are working to establish additional levels of programmatic support for underrepresented students in the school by creating a new Black student media organization, and we continue to strengthen our existing student chapters of the National Associations for Black and Hispanic Journalists. During the 2021-2022 academic year, we increased funding for these organizations and provided more financial support for the faculty advisers. Finally, we are very pleased to report that the proportion of majors who are URM students increased by 4.5 percent from Spring 2021 to Spring 2022.
The school’s Director of Undergraduate Studies continues to emphasize (1) the need for diversity across our curriculum and (2) the importance of including diversity-related learning outcomes in all our syllabi so our students are exposed to various topics on diversity throughout their education. Our newly revised and expanded adjunct faculty handbook also reiterates the school’s commitment to diversity across the curriculum in both skills and conceptual courses.
Our school also was able to increase support for its graduate students on Student Academic Appointment (SAA) lines, providing stipends that, in the 2022-2023 academic year, start at $19,000. We hope this increase will have an important positive effect on the recruitment and retention of students of color.
The Media School has always viewed our alumni as key resources to enrich our curriculum and programming and expand networking opportunities for students. Integrating the DEI mission into our alumni outreach efforts, the school’s staff worked to (1) include URM alumni on panels for the Walter Center’s fall 2021 Media Career Day and (2) create a panel discussion dedicated to the experiences of diverse alumni in the media workforce. Two of our five distinguished alumni last year were accomplished media professionals of color. At our invitation, these distinguished alumni engaged with student clubs and media organizations during their campus visits. Working with faculty advisers, we would like to assist our student clubs expand the roster of diversity-oriented guest speakers and alumni featured in their club programming to enhance their professional development and leadership skills. While our Alumni Board membership is quite diverse, we are working to further diversify the membership of the Dean’s Advisory Board.
In line with strong and widespread faculty sentiment, the Media School’s paramount initiative this year is diversifying our faculty. The School hired Visiting Senior Lecturer Cheryl Owsley Jackson—an alumnus and African American media professional and former faculty member at Northwestern University and Emerson College—to teach courses in broadcast journalism and race and media. With critical financial assistance from the campus, we are in the midst of hiring as many as four new faculty who would greatly increase our diversity; some of these are mid-career and could quickly take on important leadership roles in our school. All of these candidates are highly sought after by other institutions. Hiring such a diverse and accomplished team of new faculty would help us further integrate the values of equity and inclusion into our curriculum across different degree programs. We are grateful to the offices of both the Provost and the President for their support of these strategic faculty hires. Without campus funding support, we would not be able to grow our faculty as intentionally or as quickly. Each strategic hire will strengthen the school’s research, creative activity and teaching in race, media, and representation with a focus on the African American experience. This is a major and critical financial commitment, to be sure, but it is an investment in the school’s future that is especially appreciated as we balance the pressures of managing resources, as well as the stress on faculty, staff and students caused by the recent COVID pandemic.
We consistently provide opportunities and support initiatives that will help faculty strengthen their diversity-related learning objectives and include three illustrations here: Two Media School faculty members last year attended a Poynter Institute seminar about integrating diversity into the journalism curriculum. Additionally, the Communication Science unit created the Communication Science Racial Justice Fund to provide annual financial support to a faculty member whose research addresses racial justice and inequality. The Journalism unit also created a Race, Media, and Justice series for faculty to bring innovative scholars to campus who are studying this essential topic at such a critical time. The inaugural speaker for this series in fall 2021 was Professor Aymar Jean Christian from Northwestern University.
Our faculty work with a broad diversity of collaborators, both across campus and throughout the world, including IU’s Center for Rural Engagement, to identify ways for teachers in surrounding counties to incorporate media literacy into curricula. Faculty offered their time and course collaboration as we co-hosted post-doctoral scholar Dr. Rachael Nez along with the Race, Migration, and Indigeneity Program in the College. Additionally, Media School faculty members Cara Caddoo and Radhika Parameswaran serve on the advisory board of IU’s Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society.
The Media School’s faculty-led journals, centers, and institutes prioritize diversity in their initiatives and outreach efforts. The deans assigned more dedicated space—rooms for meetings and editorial work—for the internationally esteemed scholarly journal Black Camera, which this year completed a three-part, nearly 2,000-page, series on African Cinema: Manifesto & Practice for Cultural Decolonization with FESPACO and IMAGINE Film Institute in Burkina Faso. We appointed a senior faculty member as interim director of IU’s renowned Black Film Center & Archive (BFCA) to ensure the center’s success while we complete the search for a permanent director. The BFCA celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2021. With financial support from the Provost’s office, the BFCA’s staff—in collaboration with Media School staff and faculty—worked with IU Studios to create a new and enhanced website that enables easier access to archival materials. The Center also received the school’s financial support and help from facilities staff for the addition of 10-12 cinema posters to be hung in a central location in Franklin Hall.
The Institute for Communication Research (ICR) added to weekly meetings a standing item to discuss racism, bias, and inequity in media research. The ICR continues to host facility tours for the Groups Scholars Program and offered a copy of the book Teaching Race to any interested ICR members. The ICR also hired a Python programmer to design a user-friendly interface that imports citations from a database and then allows for easy searching of the author’s web presence so that current BIPOC scholars can be identified more easily with future journal releases. The Center for Documentary Research and Practice recently screened films on topics as varied as transgender pregnancies, Afro-Brazilian society, and the Russian Paralympic blind football team.
Investments, of course, are not always financial or programmatic. It is equally important to invest time and energy into projects and initiatives that can change the school’s professional and day-to-day culture. The school’s deans worked with the faculty diversity committee to offer the Faculty Inclusive Excellence Professional Development Series led by Carmen Henne-Ochoa, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences. This series was a major initiative that has generated helpful debate and discussion about how faculty and the school’s administration can address inequities among students in our classrooms, as well as tackle the gender and race inequities that affect faculty lives and relations within the school.
Looking ahead, we hope to further diversify our school’s leadership. Our school’s current leadership team (deans, unit directors, and directors of our undergraduate, graduate, and honors programs) is predominantly white and male. While we have a very accomplished and talented leadership team, we continue to nurture mid-career faculty who we hope will step into leadership roles and change the demographic makeup of our school’s leaders. The selection of our next dean may inherently bring a positive change to that demographic makeup, and we would certainly expect the new dean to lead our continued efforts in further diversifying the Media School’s leadership team.
A primary measure for the school now will be our ability to successfully make the strategic faculty hires we have identified and prioritized. A more diverse faculty will impact all other measures, including diversity in the curriculum, programming to support students’ professional development, and ideally a more diverse student body. We look forward to the coming months during which we hope we will complete this year’s strategic faculty hires, including the naming of a permanent director of the Black Film Center & Archive.
Media School staff members, particularly the staff diversity committee, have made many positive contributions to the school’s growing DEI efforts. The diversity committee established an online DEI resource library for faculty/staff uses. The school also successfully created and hired a new academic advisor position with a dedicated portion of the role focused solely on DEI initiatives for students. The staff diversity committee collaborated with the student services team to plan and facilitate a series of focus groups for undergraduates from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds. An executive summary of the report is available on the school’s public-facing website and the full report is posted on the faculty-staff intranet.
The school has supported staff professional and personal interests in learning more about DEI issues. Student services staff members continue to supplement their knowledge of DEI matters by attending diversity-themed workshops, including Creating Inclusive Spaces for Native Students and Supporting Black Women College Students through Advising & Coaching. Staff created a new multimedia club series to discuss and critique the images, voices, and representations of different URM groups in society. Additionally, a newly announced staff/faculty volunteer day has been scheduled in recognition of Juneteenth. Enhanced collaboration between faculty and staff will certainly add value to existing efforts.
Finally, Media School staff members will have expanded access to opportunities for DEI training and professional development. We look forward to offering Dr. Henne-Ochoa's Inclusive Excellence diversity training for our staff in 2022, the same series that was offered to our faculty this year. In collaboration with the IU Bloomington Staff Council, staff can seek grant funding from the Professional Development Grant process. Ideally, this grant would enable the supported staff member to enroll in a diversity-focused training course, and then training and sharing the content with other Media School staff.
The Media School’s diversity efforts underpin all our operations rather than function as an add-on or afterthought. This can be seen in initiatives as major as our strategic faculty hires, with support from both the Provost and the President, and as simple as encouraging preferred pronoun use in messages and profiles. We remain committed to cultivating a climate of inclusion among our students, faculty, staff and alumni, a forward-looking climate that reflects the best of our diverse and changing society.