SUNY Oneonta

Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Plan

Submitted to SUNY Nov. 1, 2016


In compliance with the State University of New York Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy, the SUNY Oneonta campus community worked together to present this strategic diversity and inclusion planning document. Titled “SUNY Oneonta 2020” the name is indicative of the three-year time frame for the plan.

Themes emerged during the process that are important to note prior to launching into our activities, history, goals, and assessment measures. Among the first and most important themes is shared responsibility for the plan's creation and implementation. To ensure a well-vetted and inclusive process, a small group of community members, the Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Summer planning group (see Addendum 1), met from June through August to create a foundational draft upon which the community based suggestions. This group formulated four goals, created objectives and began a list of possible action items.
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SUNY Oneonta is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion as core values necessary to foster a living and learning environment where all individuals can thrive.


Through intentional and sustained efforts, we will expand the recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty, and staff and work to enhance the quality of academic outcomes for all students. We will promote a shared responsibility across the campus community for upholding the principles of respect and individual worth, overcoming bias and barriers that hinder success, and creating an inclusive climate where all can grow and succeed.

Institutional Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

SUNY Oneonta embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion as important components of its vision to “ensure a quality and affordable education emphasizing ethical, critical, and creative thinking to prepare its graduates to succeed in a diverse and changing world” (strategic plan, 2015). In its 2008 Strategic Action Plan for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the college set goals and benchmarks around campus climate, recruitment, retention, programming, professional development, and student success. That plan resulted in funding for activities that are now annual traditions at Oneonta. Two activities, President's Council on Diversity's Tapestry of Diversity Award program and the Kente' Graduation Ceremony (sponsored by the Africana and Latino Studies program), are now annual demonstrations of our commitment to diversity.

The college uses a difficult incident in its history as an educational opportunity for the campus community. On Sept. 4, 1992, a SUNY Oneonta employee complied with local law enforcement officials seeking suspects as part of a criminal investigation by releasing directory information about the college's male African American students. The incident and the campus community outrage that followed became known as the “Black List.” It continues to be an inspiration for student activism and annual discussions on civil rights, racial profiling, and privacy issues. The college marked the 20th anniversary of the Black List in fall 2012 with “Beyond the List: A Teach-in: Remembrance and Reconciliation.” This daylong event included an atonement ceremony, a documentary screening of “Brothers of the Black List,” discussions about race, and a keynote address by renowned author and activist Dr. Cornel West.

The following list documents recent initiatives demonstrative of our continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

View the list of recent initiatives

Strategic Allocation of Resources (StAR) Grants

  • In the 2014-2015 StAR funding supported the Peer Mentoring/Peer Education program, a collaborative cross-divisional mentoring effort led by EOP, the Office of Student Diversity and Advocacy, and the GSRC.
  • Domestic Intercultural Immersions (DIIs), a model recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education in its Sept. 4, 2015 issue, provides intentional immersive experiences within the U.S and creates opportunities for students to learn multicultural competencies. The service-learning course (Geog 294: Disaster Geographies) was developed for students to work with a grassroots non-profit in New Orleans.
  • The Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Nodal Network promotes and supports college-wide global connectedness, student engagement, and technology enhanced learning focused on the emerging field of Globally Networked Learning. COIL fosters faculty and student interaction with peers abroad through co-taught multicultural online and blended learning environments emphasizing experiential student collaboration.
  • The Faculty International Travel Grant Program funds faculty travel abroad aimed at increasing student engagement, strengthening student and faculty research and creative activities, growing opportunities for students to be mentored, and promoting and supporting global connectedness at SUNY Oneonta.

Relevant Institutional Policies and Processes

  • The Bias Act Response Team (BART) advocates for individuals and communities affected by alledged bias acts, and facilitates the college's response, which may include investigation and adjudication by appropriate campus offices. BART includes representatives from Community Standards, UPD, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Residence Life, and faculty.
  • The Consensual Relationship Policy states:
    Romantic or sexual relationships between employees and students over whom the employee has current supervisory, instructional, or other professional responsibility are prohibited; and Consensual relationships between college employees and all students are strongly discouraged.
  • The General Order 101.30, Prohibiting Bias and Racial Profiling reaffirms the department's commitment to unbiased policing. The policy strengthened UPD's commitment to anti-bias training and provided an administrative review mechanisms, the Independent Review Committee for Review of General Order 140.1, Personnel Complaints and Internal Investigations. Since 2012 UPD officers have been equipped with body cameras to document their interactions with community members for purposes of accountability.
  • The Preferred Name Process adds to our commitment to the inclusion of people of a broad scope of sexual and gender identities. The process assures that students can have their legal name replaced by their preferred name on class rosters and other documents.
  • The college has installed 61 gender-neutral restrooms in 30 campus buildings. Four more are in process as elements of building rehabilitation/upgrade projects.
  • Sexual Misconduct education is provided by the Office of Health Education, the Title IX coordinator, Community Standards, UPD, the GSRC, and Residence Life. In 2015 over 5,500 students participated in in-person or online training opportunities related to sexual misconduct. The Athletics department has taken a role in leading the fight against sexual misconduct by supporting the development of the nationally recognized student athlete video, “It's On Us.”
  • SUNY's Discrimination Complaint Procedure for the prompt and equitable investigation and resolution of allegations of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction. The policy is administered through the Affirmative Action Office and includes sexual harassment and sexual violence.
  • SUNY's Policies on Sexual Violence and Response as updated in June 2015 to reflect New York state law, Chapter 76 of the Laws of 2015. These policies are widely distributed and shared with members of the College community. During the 2014-2015 academic year, the college convened a Sexual Misconduct Task Force to conduct climate checks and focus groups, to review and revise all policies related to sexual misconduct, and to propose a comprehensive sexual misconduct policy.

Goals, Objectives and Action Items

Goal 1:

Increase the recruitment and success of students who represent the diversity of New York state residents
Expand Goal 1

Goal 2:

Increase the diversity of faculty, staff, and administrators to optimize conditions for all employees and provide students access to a plurality of diverse perspectives
Expand Goal 2

Goal 3:

Foster an understanding of power and privilege, and the complexities of individual and social identities to create a safe and inclusive climate
Expand Goal 3

Goal 4:

Make quality learning experiences equally accessible to all students
Expand Goal 4

Assessment and Evaluation

Goal 1:

Increase the recruitment and success of students who represent the diversity of New York state residents

Expand Goal 1

Goal 2:

Increase the diversity of faculty, staff, and administrators to optimize conditions for all employees and provide students access to a plurality of diverse perspectives

Expand Goal 2

Goal 3:

Foster an understanding of power and privilege, and the complexities of individual and social identities to create a safe and inclusive climate

Expand Goal 3

Goal 4:

Make quality learning experiences equally accessible to all students

Expand Goal 4

SUNY Oneonta Demographics


In the past decade, the college's African American, Latino/a, Asian and Native American (AALANA) student population (self-identified) has grown from 530 to 984 students, the largest in college history. Including students who self-identify as “two or more races” (124 students) and students who identify as “non-resident alien” (72 students), the number of traditionally under-represented or under-served students is 1,180 students or over 19% of the student body. The largest growth in enrollment has occurred with the college's Hispanic/Latino/a students, increasing from 273 students in 2005 to 642 in 2015.

SUNY Oneonta will continue its efforts to increase enrollment and retention of under-represented students. The college has invested $75,000 to establish a multicultural recruitment caller program. It has also increased its commitment to scholarships supporting diversity and low-income students by $344,000, including increasing the Presidential Diversity Scholarships 10 to 15 annual awards, ranging from $4,000 to full tuition.

In February 2016, OEI produced a graduation gap analysis of graduation rate differentiation by student racial groups for the 2015 Strategic Plan. The resulting data showed that SUNY Oneonta had already made progress in eliminating the gap. In December 2015, the Education Trust recognized SUNY Oneonta in an article titled “Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rates Benefit All Students?” The article states, “In 2013, the three-year average graduation rate for SUNY Oneonta students from underrepresented groups was 65.6%, compared with 70.1% for white students.” Of the 255 institutions examined, graduation rates for underrepresented students increased only slightly more than those for white students (6.3% versus 5.7%).

From 2003 to 2013, the college's three-year average graduation rate for minority students increased by 23.1 percentage points. Further, the gap between graduation rates for underrepresented and white students has narrowed over the past 10 years. (see Addendum 3).

Employee Hiring and Retention

The number of faculty of color has increased from about 25 in 2000 (12%) to 64 and now numbers about 29% of the total number of faculty, using the June 30, 2016 data. Going into the fall 2016 semester, the college hired 60 new employees, 17% of whom belong to underrepresented groups. Of these, 37 are new faculty members and 24% of those are from under-represented groups (see Addendum 4).

Summative Statement

In prioritizing accessibility and inclusion, SUNY Oneonta's three-year strategic plan for Diversity and Inclusion will drive pivotal institutional changes. Some of these changes will take place quickly because the action items propelling them are focused, discrete, and directly related to work underway. Other changes, because they involve re-thinking and modifying existing practices, or developing entirely new strategies, will necessarily require the full lifecycle of the plan.

The changes that will take place immediately upon implementing the plan (i.e. after the plan's first year) are those that extend efforts already underway to create optimal learning and working conditions on campus for underserved students and underrepresented faculty. In the past two years, SUNY Oneonta has thoroughly assessed campus conditions for all students and personnel: We have brought in several consultants to facilitate dialogue on community members' lived experiences and complex relationships to racism, power and privilege; we have also employed a campus-climate expert to analyze and produce a comprehensive report on conditions for students and employees at our institution. Many of the action-items listed under our third goal (devoted to optimizing our campus climate) further this work. Indeed, the action items in service to our third goal are essentially “next steps” for our campus: The work we will undertake, from implementing group-dialogue processes to supporting development of cultural competence, and redressing equity and hierarchy issues, will, by the end of the '17-'18 academic year, create an environment that is not only more accessible, hospitable, and equitable to all individuals, but also more capable of sponsoring the productive exchange of diverse ideas and experiences-and the successful collaborations of individuals with different backgrounds and abilities-that our plan insists is essential to the educational enterprise.

As we improve campus conditions for living and learning at SUNY Oneonta, we will simultaneously transform the curriculum, our pedagogies and design of our courses, in order to make quality learning experiences equally available to all students (goal four). Our efforts will likely begin to show results in the second year after implementation of our plan because we are committed to shared governance, and curricular and instructional changes require extensive deliberation and consultation. Since some of the key tenets of this work are already in place-notably widespread interest in adopting the tenets of Universal Design for Learning and support for formulating diversity and inclusion outcomes as essential college-wide learning outcomes for all students-these changes and the other curricular revisions we plan to make (as specified in goal four) will likely come to fruition in the '18-'19 academic year. The consequences will be manifold: Enrolled students with disabilities, and prospective students with diverse learning needs, will increasingly see Oneonta as an institution deeply committed to serving all students equally. First-generation and transfer students, and students from lower-income backgrounds, will similarly view our college as an enabling institution from which they can attain a quality education and prepare for future success. All SUNY Oneonta students will benefit from instruction provided by a faculty trained to recognize and honor differences among students. Oneonta students will also gain from curricula that include diversity and inclusion learning outcomes, and in doing so align with the plurality of contemporary American society, not to mention the national and international labor markets.

Individual action items tied to our first and second goals (focused on increasing recruitment and retention of students and employees from underrepresented populations) will be acted upon in the first two years of our strategic plan. For example, we will by the end of the '18-'19 academic year have established new articulation agreements and bachelor's completion programs designed purposely to meet the needs of underserved students, and we will have made the financial aid processes less onerous for first-generation and transfer students dependent on such support. We will, however, need the full three years of the plan in order to refine and apply our planned strategies for attracting and retaining a greater diversity of students, faculty, staff and administration. Strides will be apparent from year to year, but the process of building a more inclusive, more diverse community will happen incrementally, as successful recruiting and retention efforts demonstrate the institution's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The consequence of this achievement will be most evident in data: We will have increased retention and degree completion rates for students from underserved populations, and more faculty/staff/administrators from diverse backgrounds. Most importantly, our institution will better serve our students by mirroring the demographics of the state and providing opportunities for learning that are equally accessible to all, and more representative of diverse cultures and perspectives.


Addendum 1

Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Summer Planning Group

Group members: Terrence Mitchell, Co-Chair, Dr. Eileen Morgan-Zayachek, Co-Chair, Dr. Eddy Alvarez, Dr. Susan Bernardin, Sue Clemons, Marta Guzman, Rebecca Harrington, Ernesto Henriquez, Hope Lambrecht, Andrew Stammel, Dr. Betty Wambui


  • To create a strategic diversity and inclusion plan that complies with the SUNY Diversity and Inclusion Policy guidelines;
  • To use existing resources such as the SUNY Oneonta strategic plan action items relevant to diversity as a foundation for this plan;
  • To identify groups of stakeholders who will review the draft plan;
  • To include funding needs, infrastructure, person responsible for implementation of suggested goals and action items, and other information relevant to structure in the plan;
  • To suggest term length of the strategic diversity and inclusion plan;
  • To incorporate action items from the 2015-2016 Living, Learning and Working at SUNY Oneonta Climate study in this plan;
  • To submit to the College Senate and Student Association for potential endorsement and to the president's Cabinet for final approval;
  • To submit the Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Plan to the SUNY Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by the November 1 deadline.

Outcomes of the summer working group.

  • A draft plan with goals, objectives and action items aligned with the college's strategic plan and with guidelines set by the SUNY system.
  • Produce a communications strategy for vetting the plan in the fall.
  • Produce a demographic profile of the campus community that is factual and aspirational in accordance with the SUNY guidelines.
  • Propose action items containing the cost of the item and budget sources, responsible party, projected completion dates and communication milestones, subject to revision upon vetting with campus community.

Addendum 2

Strategic Plan 2015: Scholarship, Service, Strength

Mission: SUNY Oneonta unites excellence in teaching, scholarship, civic engagement, and stewardship to create a student-centered learning community.

Vision: SUNY Oneonta will be recognized as a leader in challenging and empowering students to identify and achieve ambitious goals. We will ensure a quality and affordable education emphasizing ethical, critical, and creative thinking for our graduates to succeed in a diverse and changing world.

Goal 1: Increase students' engagement throughout their collegiate experience.

  • Develop a “Degree of Distinction” that recognizes and rewards students for leadership, engagement, and independent learning.
  • Formalize a Center for Teaching Excellence to serve as the focal point of activity for advancing teaching, learning, and engagement.
  • Improve first-year student academic engagement.
  • Increase opportunities for students to be mentored.
  • Recognize faculty and staff for exceptional advising and mentoring.

Goal 2: Promote inquiry, service, and scholarship.

  • Craft a distinctive identity for SUNY Oneonta that highlights our values and achievements.
  • Develop college-wide essential learning outcomes including creative, critical, and ethical thinking.
  • Expand community engagement and service in the curriculum.
  • Enhance and broaden communications that highlight faculty, staff, alumni, and student accomplishments.
  • Strengthen and grow student and faculty research and creative activity.

Goal 3: Broaden access to SUNY Oneonta's exceptional and affordable educational programs.

  • Develop a robust advising system beyond course planning that enhances student completion and success through faculty-student interactions.
  • Implement a strategic enrollment plan to address sustainable enrollment growth and further diversify the student body.
  • Increase four-year graduation rates to meet the SUNY chancellor's goal of 60% by 2020.
  • Increase students' financial literacy and reduce their loan debt at graduation.
  • Strengthen SUNY Oneonta as a safe and welcoming learning and living environment where everyone is valued.

Goal 4: Strengthen the college's financial sustainability.

  • Objectives
  • Prioritize academic and student services spending to strengthen enrollment and promote student success.
  • Generate and allocate new revenue to enhance academic and student services.
  • Restore annual operating reserve to 15% of state support by increasing revenue and operating more efficiently.

Addendum 3

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Overall Employee Race/Ethnicity by Gender


Addendum 4

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Fall Enrollment Headcount


Addendum 5.
Office of Equity and Inclusion Organizational Chart click image for larger view:

Office of Equity and Inclusion Organizational Chart


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