Hellenic American University has launched a new initiative to develop a plan to foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the University community.
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan (DEI), as it is called, is expected to be completed by January 2023. It foresees components for faculty and staff recruitment and training, curricular review, hiring priorities, and a Gender Equality plan, as well as means to monitor and assess progress in implementing the plan.
- Download a detailed outline of the Gender Equality Plan (.pdf, 298.1 KB)
The project team responsible for developing the DEI involves a variety of stakeholders, including University academic and executive officers, faculty and staff, members of the Board of Trustees, and students. The plan will be conducted by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment and led by the Provost, Dr. Themis Kaniklidou.
In developing the DEI, the project team is drawing on work done in similar projects at other American universities and national and EU initiatives in diversity, equity, and inclusion. The plan’s Gender Equality plan, for example, is being aligned with the European Gender Equality Strategy for 2020-2025 and the National Action for Gender Equality 2021-2025, as well as with relevant national and European laws, initiatives, and actions.
The Gender Equality plan has been prioritized and will be the first deliverable in the DEI project. It is expected to be completed by July 2022. It will cover areas such as work-life balance and organizational culture; gender balance in leadership and decision-making; gender equality in recruitment and career progression; integration of the gender dimension into research and teaching, and; measures against gender-based violence including sexual harassment. A draft outline of the contents of the Gender Equality plan has been completed and will be posted on the University website.
As initial groundwork for the DEI, the University is now conducting a Campus Climate Survey among students. The results of the survey are expected to provide insight into the extent to which attitudes, expectations, and behaviors of University students, faculty, and staff contribute to an inclusive, welcoming, campus environment for all members of the community. The findings will give the project an initial idea of the challenges that the plan needs to address. The launch of the survey, and the broader planning initiative of which it forms a part, was announced to students during the recent Town Hall meeting on February 16th. A similar survey for academic and administrative staff is being drafted.
To highlight the importance of the Plan for the life of the University and its strategic development, University President Leonidas Koskos has placed the planning initiative under the aegis of the Office of the President. As he noted, the commitment and support at the institution’s highest executive level ensures that resources will be made available and cooperation facilitated across the institution and at both the Athens and Nashua campuses.
President Koskos noted that the initiative is grounded in the Board of Trustees Statement of University Values, in which the Board “encourages administrative officers and faculty to effectively pursue means to enhance the cultural, racial, gender and ethnic diversity of the University. In this statement, published on the University website, the Board formalized its commitment “to providing an environment in which the personal safety and integrity of all its members are protected from harassment, bigotry and intolerance in whatever form they may appear” and its expectation “its students, faculty and staff are likewise committed to this effort.”
The actions envisaged in the DEI plan intend to maintain continuity and conformance with the policies that are already in place at the University and College, but also to address any identified weaknesses. The plan also rests on a foundation of the University’s non-discrimination policy:
The Hellenic American University / College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, physical disability, or veteran status in administration of its research and educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, hiring and promotion policies, and athletic or other school-administered programs, or in its hiring, promotion, and other employment practices. Students, as well as academic faculty and staff, are expected to behave in accordance with this non-discrimination policy both inside the classroom and during on-campus university activities or events.
Procedures for enforcing this policy are elaborated in a series of other University documents, including the Student Handbook. These include:
- Policy on non-academic misconduct detailed in the Student Handbook, which covers, among other items, disciplinary action for instances of sexual harassment and bullying;
- Sexual harassment policy, published in the Faculty Handbook, which describes procedures for identifying, reporting, and reviewing incidents of sexual harassment, and disciplinary measures for inappropriate conduct.