Multi-Year Plan for Diversity & Inclusion

Otterbein recognizes that in order to realize the standards of inclusion and diversity, we must be strategic, deliberate and diligent. We need to stay attuned to systems of oppression, hierarchies, privilege, exclusion, silencing, and marginalization. Simply hoping for the best will not suffice.

Otterbein historically worked to be an inclusive, welcoming community. The university admitted women at its founding, students of color before the Civil War, and Japanese-American students who had been sent to internment camps during World War II. Founded by the United Church of the Brethren, these values — belonging, connection, and opportunity — are at the college’s foundation. Like any university, Otterbein’s history is also implicated in structural inequalities and issues that the community has to consistently strive to see, hear, and solve. Equity, inclusion, and social justice are always a work in progress.

This multi-year Plan for Diversity and Inclusion is the framework to actualize a diverse and inclusive community. The Plan is a series of strategies and recommendations for the Otterbein community which, when fully implemented, will significantly enhance the sense of diversity and inclusion in our community. Chief among these strategies is to engage the Otterbein community in an ongoing, never ending dialogue about what it means to be citizens of a diverse and inclusive community.

Critical to the success of this plan is the need for it to be fully integrated with other institutional strategic plans. As Cabinet works to develop a sustainable model for Otterbein by integrating the Academic, Business, Enrollment, and Student Life strategic plans, it must also include the Otterbein Plan for Diversity and Inclusion. The Plan supports the four strategic priorities identified in the University Strategic Plan that was accepted by the Board of Trustees in May of 2014:

  • Enhance Student Success
  • Strengthen Academic Excellence
  • Build a Model Community
  • Improve Financial Strength

While the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion is responsible for creating this plan, the entire campus must be responsible for implementing the recommendations if the plan is to succeed. Leadership from the President and each of the Vice Presidents will be necessary to ensure this plan becomes an institutional priority.

Strategy One

Create Institutional Accountability for Diversity and Inclusion

Supports Strategic Priorities: Build a Model Community and Enhance Student Success

The Otterbein community understands that creating a diverse and inclusive community is never the responsibility of one person or group, but rather the responsibility of the community as a whole. While this is an important commitment of the community, it also stands in conflict to the adage ‘When everyone is responsible for something, no one is responsible for it.’ The key question becomes how do we build an environment of accountability around issues of diversity and inclusion?

The Commission on Diversity &Inclusion will transition to a permanent standing committee in the University governance system. While Diversity & Inclusion wasn’t granted “super committee” status, it was made a permanent committee and will be one voice for accountability.

  • The Commission on Diversity & Inclusion will report to the Otterbein University Senate at the first Senate meeting of the spring semester annually on the State of Diversity and Inclusion at Otterbein beginning with the 2015-16 academic year.
  • The Commission will release the Diversity & Inclusion scorecard as part of the Senate report with recommendations for improving measures of concern.

Create a position of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) by 2020. This is typically a senior leadership position reporting to the President with responsibility to engage the Cabinet, the Board of Trustees and the campus as a whole in the work of enhancing a diverse and inclusive environment. The CDO is responsible for creating a culture of accountability around diversity & inclusion in enrollment, academics, business practices, hiring and student life among others.

Ensure the Facilities committee and campus master plan address accessibility issues and create spaces for interaction and inclusion.

  • All new or remodeled Otterbein facilities should include at least one gender neutral restroom.
  • Conduct an annual accessibility audit of campus facilities.
  • All reasonable effort should be made to make sure that Otterbein facilities are accessible to community members with disabilities. Sidewalk snow removal efforts should include curb cuts; snow cleared from parking lots should never be dumped in accessible spaces or curb cuts.

Create institutional policies and processes that will enhance the diversity of Otterbein faculty, staff and students.

  • Use the CQI process to require units to examine the structural diversity of their unit and to reflect on how departments/divisions account for diversity in the hiring/promotion process beginning with the 2015-16 cohort.
  • Create a process to track diversity of applicant/interview pools for all hires.
  • Include the Otterbein Statement on Diversity in materials shared with candidates for employment.
  • Include participation in Diversity & Inclusion training/professional development as part of Otterbein’s annual evaluation process for administrators and staff.

Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management will jointly report to the Commission on Diversity & Inclusion annually on student success for underserved student populations (students of color, low socio-economic status, and first generation), including first year retention rates, persistence, and four and six year graduation rates compared to non-diverse students.

  • Report should include recommendations based on nationally-recognized best practices to close achievement gaps.

Strategy Two

Enhance Diversity and Inclusion training for all Otterbein employees and volunteers.

Supports Strategic Priorities: All four

Require all faculty and staff to participate in at least one diversity related professional development opportunity every year beyond federally mandated Title IX training. Currently, in addition to annual Title IX training, new staff receive diversity information during the Otterbein 101 orientation process and all new employees are required to take an online Sexual Harassment training, but no other training is required.

  • Allow professional development opportunities offered by any campus office to count rather than requiring everything to go through Human Resources.

Add diversity as a training component for Otterbein “Ambassadors” (i.e., Resident Assistants, Admission Host & Tour Guides, Orientation Leaders, FYS mentors, Board of Trustees, Athletes, Student Government Representatives, Advancement Student Ambassadors, etc.) by 2017.

  • Training to be developed by the Office of Social Justice & Activism and may be delivered by the responsible University division, the Office of Social Justice & Activism, or jointly.

The Center for Teaching and Learning should continue to implement diversity and inclusion training and workshops to enhance faculty-student interactions and provide tools and resources that encourage engaged and inclusive classrooms.

Strategy Three

Engage the Otterbein community in an ongoing dialogue about issues related to diversity and inclusion.

Supports Strategic Priorities: Build a Model Community and Strengthen Academic Excellence

“Intergroup dialogue programs are based on the premise that sustained and meaningful intergroup contact, dialogue, and education are necessary to address issues of conflict and to promote the creation of just, multicultural campus communities. Intergroup dialogues engage students in an educational process which encourages sustained conversation, exploration of both conflict and common ground, and action to improve cross-group relations and address social injustices”. “Intergroup dialogue presents an important opportunity for students and others to practice the skills needed to cultivate diverse democratic culture in higher education and broader society”.


Flag events on the University calendar as diversity-related. Not only would this create more visibility around diversity-related events on campus, it would allow Otterbein to track the number and type of events being offered each year.

  • The Office of Social Justice & Activism could offer a “stamp of approval” for events to be considered diversity-related, allowing supervisors and faculty the opportunity to identify and direct staff and students to diversity-related opportunities.
  • Provide a list of approved diversity events to Media Relations to ensure appropriate visibility on the University website.

By 2019 identify a funding source for the MLK Convocation, Otterbein’s signature annual diversity event, to create a similar level of visibility and publicity as the Vernon Pack lecture.

Create a vibrant space on Otterbein’s website, beginning with the homepage, reflecting our institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion.

  • Each division is responsible for communicating with the Otterbein Marketing & Communications department about the diversity related speakers, events and opportunities the division sponsors.
  • Each division is responsible to ensure that materials and publications reflect diversity (i.e. Otterbein must adopt a consistent “people-first” language standard that promotes inclusion and acceptance, i.e. use of “person with a disability” rather than “disabled person” or “accessible parking” rather than “handicapped parking.”)
  • Otterbein Marketing and Communications department will develop an annual plan for promoting diversity and inclusion across all University media.

Increase the percentage of students earning a Global and Intercultural Engagement card to 50% by 2020.

  • Create a travel course syllabus template that includes instructions on how to apply for the Global and Intercultural Engagement card.
  • Look for additional funding sources to help make Global experiences available to all students.
  • Identify local intercultural engagement opportunities and make available to students.

Require one required co-curricular activity in the general education curriculum to be diversity-related by 2016-17.

  • Create at least one diversity-related exercise in the Peer Mentor curriculum.

The Office of Institutional Research will share NSSE data on student engagement with diversity with academic departments, athletics, and other campus offices. Create an action plan to increase the number of students who engage with students who are not like themselves.

Commission on Diversity and Inclusion will continue to publish Making the Invisible Visible, a diversity newsletter, each semester.

  • Otterbein Marketing and Communications will design a digital template for the newsletter

Commission on Diversity & Inclusion will continue to host at least one common hour each semester on diversity related issues.

  • Create a summer series on diversity for staff and administrators by summer 2016, similar to the re-accreditation series offered in 2014.

Given the broad array of diversity and inclusion topics available for discussion, the Commission recommends that at least one discussion every year focus on issues of race and ethnicity.

Incident Reporting

If you see, hear or experience an incident of bias or discrimination, complete our Bias Incident Reporting form. You can also contact the Associate Dean of Student Affairs at 614-823-1554. For more information, visit our Bias Response Information page. If you believe you may have witnessed a crime, you can report anonymously through the Silent Witness Form, or call OPD at 614-823-1222. If this is an emergency, call 911.