After careful analysis, ODI leaders steer course for innovative future

After careful analysis, ODI leaders steer course for innovative future

By Aaron Marshall

Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) leaders have recently released a strategic roadmap aimed at strengthening its mission of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence throughout the university enterprise and beyond.

“We took a hard look at ODI's organizational focus as it continuously faces the impact of the rising cost of higher education and growing inequality in society,” said James L. Moore III, the vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer. “Our strategic roadmap focuses primarily on improving outcomes of ODI as a unit. The new roadmap is not the university's diversity plan, but I believe that the roadmap will position ODI to remain a campus leader in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion and will anchor nicely with the university diversity plan, once it is revised.”

After undertaking a systemic analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (i.e., SWOT), ODI leadership identified six major pillars to focus on, such as supporting students, diversifying faculty, developing team members, growing advancement, strengthening operations, and championing leadership. Building on earlier 2018 findings of a SWOT analysis and ongoing input from other campus partners, the rollout of the strategic roadmap occurred in mid-May as executive council and ODI staff were briefed in separate informational sessions. The plan is to use the roadmap for all aspects of ODI, including operations, staff development, and advancement and fundraising activities. “We hope that the new ODI roadmap will help strengthen our enterprise over the next three to four years,” said Moore. “We believe in this vision for the future and will use it to run the marathon at a sprinter's pace.”

Here is a quick look at each of the six pillars of focus:

  1. Student support. The ODI roadmap suggests students would be best supported by efforts that bring a heightened sense of belonging while stressing skill development and access to institutional and non-institutional opportunities. These aims are best initiated through ODI's signature pipeline and outreach programs like the Young Scholars Program, Morrill Scholarship Program, and other student support mechanisms.

  2. Diversifying faculty. Helping academic units to recruit and retain a more diverse faculty continues to be a majority priority for ODI. By fostering collaboration through exercises with academic units during pre and post hire periods, ODI is able to build on existing partnerships across the university. For example, ODI plans to increase its contributions to implicit bias training and research for faculty search committees and/or tenure and promotion committees.

  3. Develop team. ODI plans to devote more attention and resources to developing its employees' knowledge, skills, and abilities through tools like onboarding, performance management, and succession planning. The goal of this focus area is to find the appropriate balance for a critical “win-win” with employees--improving production and efficiency of programs, while increasing the wellness and professional development of team members.

  4. Grow advancement. In order to grow the organization and increase financial support for ODI priorities, both advancement and development are critical endeavors. Further, increasing outreach and engagement efforts, aimed at alumni, donors, corporations, and foundations, and strengthening storytelling to help cultivate major gifts are also important facets of the ODI Roadmap. Increased communication efforts is also likely to allow ODI to showcase its successes with students and faculty and share ODI's vision for the future with alumni, the campus, Greater Columbus community, and beyond.

  5. Strengthen operations. The operations and efficiency of high-impact programs is able to be improved by fostering a culture of continuous improvement that better aligns physical, people, financial, and technological resources. To this end, the COVID-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated a greater need to invest in online and virtual technologies and training.

  6. Champion leadership. Diversity and inclusion thought leaders and advocates should be nurtured by ODI so that ODI can better serve as a resource and a catalyst for change on-campus and off-campus. By championing trainings, workshops, and discussions, ODI is likely to build the needed pipeline for innovative diversity and inclusion leaders in future generations.