Our Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion at Marist
The College has received hundreds of thoughtful ideas, suggestions, and comments from students, employees, alumni, and friends regarding how to improve the campus culture for people of different races, ethnic groups, religions, sexual orientations, and political views, as well as women, veterans, and those with disabilities. We have heard and given careful consideration to the feedback we’ve received, and are deeply grateful to everyone who cares enough about Marist to help us find ways to be a better institution. Following are several areas in which the College is taking both short-term and long-term action.
Being Better Listeners
- The Board of Trustees' Diversity & Inclusion Committee has begun hearing from a number of constituencies, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
- Listening sessions will be an ongoing process of engagement, not a one-time event.
- We have identified about a dozen groups from whom the Committee would like to seek feedback: Red Foxes Against Racism; Student Government Association; Marist Ambassadors/tour guides; Diversity & Inclusion Alumni Advisory Board; Black Student Union; Appreciating Races Creating Opportunities (ARCO); Black Student-Athlete Alliance; Diversity Council; LGBTQ groups; and faculty, staff, and students of color. The Committee is willing to listen to feedback from any student group or individual that would like to be heard.
Faculty and Staff Training
- We have funded an innovative proposal called the Marist College Diversity Leadership Institute (MCDLI), which was created by Associate Professor of Psychology Stacey A.S. Williams. The MCDLI is designed to train faculty and staff members in three aspects of diversity development: awareness, application, and action. Once trained, these facilitators are able to implement or sustain diversity and inclusion initiatives on the Marist campus.
- Marist will institute mandatory training on diversity and inclusion, as well as implicit bias. We believe everyone would benefit from the opportunity to build awareness of personal biases and ways to combat them.
- We will research online training courses, similar to the training already in place regarding Title IX guidelines, and diversity experts and coaches will continue to come to campus to speak on a regular basis.
- In addition to requiring that students participate in campus-wide diversity and implicit bias training, incoming freshmen will continue to have anti-bias programming through Orientation and we will look to strengthen it.
- The Emerging Leaders Program will also reinforce its diversity-related programming to better prepare students to engage with the world around them.
- A comprehensive review of the curriculum will be conducted. Over the near term, we will ask the faculty to consider instituting a mandatory diversity class that will be required of all students before they graduate. We are also open to the suggestion that Marist implement a campus-wide common reading regarding racism and will research ways to put this idea into practice.
- Marist will continue to emphasize diversity in the speakers and presentations we bring to campus, particularly through our ongoing Understanding Race Lecture Series.
- In the last several years alone, we are proud to have hosted Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Michelle Alexander, Ibram X. Kendi, Bakari Sellers, and Reyna Grande. This fall, we had been planning to host Yusef Salaam, one of the exonerated Central Park Five, but the pandemic has unfortunately necessitated the cancellation of that event.
Analysis of Hiring Patterns and Making Improvements
- Diversity in hiring is the hallmark of any good organization, and the College is committed to thoroughly analyzing its hiring practices at all levels and operational areas, including senior positions, staff, faculty. Once we have completed this analysis and established a baseline, we will strive to make improvements, particularly in areas that lack diverse representation.
- One of our top short-term priorities is to endeavor to hire a replacement for our Cabinet-level position focusing on diversity, inclusion, and community engagement.
- At 20 percent, Marist leads our group of 30 US News private comparator institutions in the number of faculty of color. As welcome as this news is, we readily acknowledge that there is still work to be done in terms of increasing the number of Black and other historically underrepresented faculty members at the College.
Better Analysis and Sharing of Data
- Review and share data on academic progress rates, graduation rates, and other indicators of student success. We believe it is important to establish a baseline from which we can improve. View our Diversity & Inclusion By the Numbers page >
- It’s equally important to share the areas in which we’ve made good progress. For example, our first-year retention rates and graduation rates for Black students are well above the national average. Nonetheless, there is still more work to be done in this area.
- Marist commits a substantial portion of its institutional assets to recruit and provide financial aid to students from underrepresented backgrounds. And these efforts have paid off because, in the last decade, the percentage of students of color at Marist in the incoming freshman class has increased from 14 percent to approximately 22 percent in this year’s class.
- The percentage of Black students and multiracial students who identify as Black has increased from three percent to seven percent during this time. We would like to see this success continue and are reviewing all of our enrollment practices to ensure we continue to improve.
- We have been test-optional for years and have engaged in proactive outreach to build a pipeline of students of color.
Fundraising and Grants
- Marist will place a strong emphasis on endowed scholarships in our next capital campaign.
- Our grants offices have been instructed to focus on opportunities for research in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
Mentoring and Pipelines
- Marist is committed to developing talent among our faculty and staff in order to increase the number of people of color in leadership positions. For years, we have had in place an Opportunity Hire Program to bring in faculty from underrepresented groups, and we are asking the academic deans to take full advantage.
- We will create opportunities for underrepresented doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars. Through the Office of the President’s Presidential Fellow Program, young professionals of color serve on Marist’s Cabinet and learn about higher education administration and policy-making at the highest levels. Mark Palmer ’20 is the latest in a long line of talented people to hold this role.
- We are creating two internship opportunities for students of color in the areas of information technology and construction management, fields that have both traditionally lacked diversity. Students selected for these opportunities will be working directly with our Vice President of Information Technology and Director of Physical Plant, respectively.
Process for Investigating Bias
- Every member of the Marist community has the right to feel welcome here, and it’s extremely important that any instances of bias, discrimination, and hate speech be reported and investigated. Marist has long had a system in place to handle these issues.
- Students are strongly encouraged to report all bias incidents to the Vice President for Student Affairs so that complaints may be handled through the Office of Student Conduct.
- Complaints involving faculty should be routed through the Vice President for Academic Affairs, while issues involving administrators and staff members should be reported to the Vice President for Human Resources.
- While there are clear processes in place, we are also committed to reviewing our procedures to see if there is room for improvement, either in the way complaints are handled or in the way the process is communicated to members of the Marist community.
- The Board has begun the process of searching for the College’s next leader.
- Board Chair Ross Mauri has clearly stated that the Presidential Search Committee he appoints will be a diverse one, with representatives from various ethnic and constituency groups. We are also committed to seeking a diverse pool of qualified candidates from which to choose.
Continue and Expand Commitment to the Local Community
- Marist is committed to continuing and expanding our commitment to inner-city populations in our region, paying particular attention to Poughkeepsie. Because of our location, Marist feels a special obligation to engage with the Poughkeepsie community and support initiatives that serve its residents and promote the city’s development.
- The College has been a longtime supporter of the Catharine Street Community Center, Family Services, and many other community organizations. Most recently, the College has become part of the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet, which is City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison’s initiative to bring together school districts, government agencies, child-serving community organizations, and other local stakeholders to improve collaboration and coordination of youth supports and services.
- These community efforts are in addition to Marist’s continued commitment to the Liberty Partnerships Program, Upward Bound, and the Newburgh Early College High School Program, all of which focus on the educational needs of inner-city youth. While Poughkeepsie is our primary focus, we are proud to be part of efforts to help students in Kingston and Newburgh as well.
- We are also rightfully proud of the excellent work done in the community by our Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership, Center for Social Justice Research, and Campus Ministry.
- Marist wants to be a good neighbor and going forward, we will review our contracting and purchasing practices to ensure that local businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans are well represented. In addition, we will encourage more faculty and staff to live in the City of Poughkeepsie and explore ways to incentivize their residency there.