Commission on Ethnicity, Race, and Equity

A model of a 21st Century community grounded in equity

Presidential Commission on Ethnicity, Race, and Equity

The Presidential Commission on Ethnicity, Race, and Equity, was commissioned in January 2015 to examine:

What is needed for Wellesley to be the operational model of a 21st Century community grounded in equity?  


Policy Recommendations


Add a system for biased incident reporting

One of the chief concerns that emerged was a lack of clarity about where to report incidents of bias, microaggressions, and related forms of mistreatment. Wellesley College's Title IX office now has a system for reporting and logging such incidents that remains separate from sexual misconduct reporting. Please refer to the Title IX website or speak with Title IX coordinator to learn more about the differences between these two types of incident reporting.


Target hires of faculty with a demonstrated record of excellence in the realms of diversity and equity

The college must reaffirm its commitment to excellence across all areas of research, teaching, and service. Such a commitment entails honest appraisal of the areas in which Wellesley can do better and a renewed commitment to racial and ethnic diversity and equity at Wellesley. The College must make more progress in hiring and retaining faculty of color. To this end, the Provost’s Office—as recommended by CERE—launched a new targeted faculty hiring initiative. A centerpiece of the initiative will be an open call for proposals for targeted hires at the level of associate and full professor.

These hires will not be limited to departments with positions that are being vacated by retirements. Rather, the initiative will invite applications from any department that has a staffing need and that has identified a compelling candidate with a distinguished record of teaching and scholarship that would enable her or him to succeed and make a significant contribution at Wellesley. Appointments will be created for specific candidates whose record of excellence leaves no doubt that they will excel in all dimensions of their lives as Wellesley faculty, including our collective commitment to equity for all members of our community.

A record of excellence that indicates a commitment to equity might include some of the following qualifications:

  • familiarity with, and experience using, pedagogical methods that enable students across racial and ethnic groups to reach their maximum potential

  • active participation in programs at their current workplace related to these outcomes

  • demonstrated commitment to mentoring and advising students from underrepresented and marginalized groups

  • experience with student and professional organizations dedicated to equity and support for students of color

  • a record of support for the professional development of colleagues, including junior faculty, who identify as people of color.


Improve coordination and support for Wellesley Plus, the Wellesley First Generation Network, and the Wellesley Emerging Scholars Initiative

These programs reflect the joint efforts of many divisions on campus, including Admission, Student Life, several academic departments, and the Provost's Office. CERE supports a continued collaboration among these groups that will allow members of Student Life to spend the next fourteen months working to draw all these programs together under the umbrella of a new initiative called "Wellesley First." Dean Ann Velenchik is leading the comprehensive review in collaboration with colleagues in the Dean of Students Office and the Office of Admission and Financial Aid.

The initial phase will involve cataloging and analyzing existing transitional programs, identifying the most effective and replicable elements of these programs, and better understanding the programs’ funding and staffing needs. Wellesley First will represent a portfolio of expanded and enhanced programs under a central structure with additional resources, and may include the following elements:

  • An expanded Wellesley Plus program serving more students

  • A larger Summer Shadowing Program connected with the First Generation Network

  • A mentoring program connecting new, first generation students with faculty, staff, alumnae, and more experienced students

  • A summer bridge program, including both coursework and research opportunities for first-year students.


Launch a more comprehensive, campus-wide unconscious bias training initiative

Research shows that we all have unconscious biases; learning how to identify and address them is critical to creating a more inclusive community in which to live, learn, and work. Associate Provost Robbin Chapman has worked with many academic and administrative units to increase understanding and capacity to reduce the negative effects of unconscious bias during hiring and other evaluative actions. Guided by the Commission’s recommendations, she launched a more comprehensive, campus-wide unconscious bias training initiative—to ensure that educational opportunities countering unconscious bias are available to all.  

As part of the initiative workshops have been or will be planned with:

  • Senior staff
  • Board of Trustees
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Alumnae
  • Student leaders on campus
  • Academic peer tutors
  • Supplemental instructors
  • First year/transfer student mentors
  • Athlete mentors
  • House presidents
  • Resident assistants