New scorecard will monitor Kent State’s diversity

Lydia Coutré

Kent State is implementing a tool to monitor Kent State’s diversity for students, faculty and staff.

Alfreda Brown, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, will establish the Diversity Scorecard, drawing on experience from her previous school, Rochester Institute of Technology.

The scorecard is a tool to monitor the recruitment, retention and success of underrepresented students, faculty and staff. It will focus on women and African American, Latino American and Native American (AALANA) individuals.

Brown said the project was “very, very successful” at RIT, where she helped to establish the scorecard four years ago.

“Having a scorecard that we’re all contributing toward the university level goal helped us to get there better and faster because we were talking,” Brown said. “We were communicating across colleges what worked and what worked really well.”

The scorecard is divided into tracking the percentages of AALANA individuals and women at Kent State as students, and tenure and non-tenure track faculty. It will also monitor classified staff — highly structured and regulated positions — and unclassified staff — positions with more independent decision-making and fewer regulations.

The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is in the process of building profiles, which will be based on percentages in each category for the past five years. There will be scorecard profiles for the university and one for each of its colleges and divisions.

After the baseline profiles are collected, they will work to make a benchmark of other universities to see how Kent State compares to its peers. The list of schools that will be in the peer set is not finalized yet.

Until the profiles and benchmarks are collected, Brown said she doesn’t know how Kent State compares to other universities, but has “a suspicion that we haven’t done as well.”

Fashaad Crawford, assistant vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, wrote in an e-mail that the planning and assessment process will take at least three months to complete.

From the benchmark, they will work with administrators to establish a goal for where the university should be a year from now in three different perspectives for each of the groups: access (recruitment numbers), retention and excellence (measured by graduation rates).

Brown said this will be an annual self assessment to monitor how Kent State is doing.

“I want it to become part of what we do,” Brown said. “I want it to become where people can actually see and monitor their own success in a way that makes them feel proud of what they’re doing and they always know exactly where they are.”

Because colleges and divisions differ from one another, each will be allowed to choose its own peer set, against which it will set its benchmark and its goal for upcoming years. Brown hopes these goals will be set for individual units by the end of the academic year.

For now, the focus is on setting up the scorecard at the university level, a project the division has been working on for the past few months.

Kim White, director of Diversity Assessment and Research Management at RIT, said the scorecard has been a “useful tool to help monitor our progress.” She said it has evolved since Brown implemented it at the school.

“I think people like having a metric or at least having some document where they can see the progress that they make,” White said.

White said she has seen improvements in numbers since its implementation.

Brown said a problem she may face in utilizing the Diversity Scorecard is resistance.

“The downside could be we’ll have some resistors,” Brown said. “There might be some who feel we’ve done well, so what are you talking about?”

White said she cannot think of any problems with the scorecard that they have experienced at RIT.

Crawford said the scorecard is a way to assess how the school is doing with equity and provide hard evidence in formulating strategic goals to improve diversity.

“So you’re making decisions off of evidence versus, you know, a problem arises and a quick fix or a Band-Aid approach,” Crawford said. “Instead of having those type of approaches, you know, let’s do an empirical rational approach.”

Contact Lydia Coutré at [email protected].