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DePauw president leads racial equity efforts at liberal arts institutions

DePauw University President Lori S. White and five other liberal arts leaders are spearheading the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance to address racial inequities at liberal arts colleges.

President Lori White headshotWhite’s co-founders are the presidents of Macalester, Oberlin, Occidental, Pomona and Skidmore colleges. They have been joined by the presidents of 45 other institutions, and are collaborating with the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Southern California.

“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, who assumed the DePauw presidency July 1.

“As a new president, I wanted to go beyond simply creating a campus task force, but instead unite with other liberal arts colleges to truly live up to the aspirational diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism values articulated in so many of our respective mission statements. Together, we will pursue these shared commitments.”

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 DePauw 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 DePauw employee – custodians, 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.

In addition, DePauw 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.

Reporters' contact: Mary Dieter, 317-809-5417, marydieter@depauw.edu

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