Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan

Executive Summary

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan offers a roadmap for making inclusion our way of proceeding at Rockhurst University. The DEI Plan proposes the next steps in a stated desire to "build a home for all." “Our Foundation” (Section I) underscores the inextricable link between the University’s mission rooted in its Jesuit, Catholic identity and the call to inclusion and justice; illuminates the connections between Pillar II and III of the Go Forth: Rockhurst University 2018-2023 Strategic Plan; and, articulates the vision for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at the University.  The next section, “Reading the Signs of Our Times” (Section II), provides a data-informed situational analysis, which instructs the development of this plan and fuels ever-deepening commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. “The Inclusive Excellence Framework – Our Way of Proceeding” (Section III) will guide our animation of the goals and objectives delineated in the “Scope of Our Efforts” (Section IV).


The last five months have brought about significant uncertainty in the world, Kansas City and at Rockhurst University. COVID-19 interrupted efforts underway to develop a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion plan for the University with input from several constituents. Amid COVID -19, calls for greater justice emerged throughout the country following the death of George Floyd. Rockhurst University answered those calls and developed a short-term plan addressing a stated desire to “build a home for all.” The following describes a year-long effort centered on reflection and discernment, leading to action guiding the development of a five-year roadmap for making inclusivity our way of proceeding. Roadmaps need a destination or vision. In that vein, the vision for diversity, equity and inclusion details are below.


IA. Vision for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

DEI VISION: To be recognized as the leader in Kansas City in social justice thought and practice by using the Inclusive Excellence framework grounded in Rockhurst University’s mission and values.


The vision for diversity, equity and inclusion at Rockhurst University aligns institutional values and desires serving as a destination for our roadmap. This document dynamism allows for the evolution of strategy and objectives while maintaining a vision for the future. The details for the coming year identified herein aid in the development of the plan’s next four years with input from various constituents.  The rest of this section describes the foundational elements of Rockhurst University’s mission, vision, identity and strategic plan.


The evolution of the Society of Jesus requires reading the sign of the times. It has been critical in advancing the mission of the community for hundreds of years. Reading the signs of the times through data analysis provides context for the priorities and strategies. This section includes a review of institutional data through projected enrollment trends, the Student Satisfaction Inventory and the Campus Climate Study. Data analysis and local, regional and national events and trends inform the selection of efforts.


In the mid-2000s, the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) commissioned three papers on Making Excellence Inclusive. The Ford Foundation's multi-year initiative integrates diversity efforts, positions inclusion as central to higher education, and helps realize the benefits of integration. Intended to be localized by campuses across the country, the AACU encouraged the adoption of the Inclusive Excellence Framework. In spring 2020, the Rockhurst University Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Pillar III committees affirmed the use of the Inclusive Excellence Framework as a grounding element for DEI efforts.


3A. What is Inclusive Excellence?

The Inclusive Excellence framework helps Rockhurst University take systemic actions that:

·      Align with our vision to provide inclusive, innovative and transformative education, and

·      Focus on fostering greater diversity, equity, inclusion and accountability through every area of university life.

The foundation of Inclusive Excellence at Rockhurst University calls us to intentional integration of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts into every area of the institution to maximize success. 


3B. Why Inclusive Excellence?

In many ways, the adoption of the Inclusive Excellence framework characterizes the next step in our desire to “build a home for all” by committing to fostering diverse and just environments for companions and neighbors.  The Campus Climate Study suggests multidimensional; integrative processes produce the individual and institution-wide transformation. Reflective of institutional commitment to contemplation in action and the resulting call to perpetually read the signs of the times, the framework allows Rockhurst University to respond to the current context while embracing change intentionally.  Inclusive Excellence is a change-oriented development method that promotes diversification of efforts with intentionality to assist students, faculty, staff and neighbors throughout Kansas City. Inclusive Excellence represents a shift in how Rockhurst University approaches the work through purposefully aligning our efforts, data and strategies.


3C. How does Inclusive Excellence work?

Inclusive Excellence offers an approach for organizing in a deliberate, intentional, and coordinated manner. This approach:

·      Uses a dual focus: 1) improving compositional diversity and 2) fostering environments in which Companions of all backgrounds can thrive;

·      Requires the engagement and commitment of the entire community in a concerted effort to ensure that every Companion fulfills their potential;

·      Honors the inextricable link between the University's Catholic, Jesuit mission rooted in a call to reconciliation, and the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. This link rightly requires that the institution place both at the epicenter of institutional life so that both are the unified core organizing principle around which institutional decisions derive;

·      Reflects Catholic Social Teaching's embrace of the common good and preferential option for the marginalized and the second Universal Apostolic Preference of the Society of Jesus in its call for a close attentiveness to the experiences of oppressed and marginalized Companions. This includes but is not limited to attention to the impact of race and ethnicity; physical and cognitive ability; mental health status; sexual orientation; gender expression; religious identity; socioeconomic background; and first-generation status on individuals’ learning, employment and communal experiences; and

·      Demands the principles of diversity and excellence, firmly rooted in our mission, vision, and values, be lived out as interconnected and interdependent goals.


3D. Defining Core Principles of Inclusive Excellence

The AACU offers definitions of terms related to Inclusive Excellence.  Links to corresponding values follow.



Diversity links to "Finding God in All Things," recognizing that all people in their unique and complex context provide opportunities to learn something more about God and demand/deserve to have their inherent dignity both honored and celebrated. Then, believing in the inherent dignity of each person, we are called to express our valuing of this through embrace of Cura Personalis, a commitment to mutual concern that is specific to the individuals involved, not generic.



When we speak of reconciliation, which is at the heart of the Society of Jesus' global mission and includes reconciliation with others, we do so firmly rooted in a commitment to equity. Equity requires us to take, as Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt expressed, "a long, loving look at the real." We must, with clear eyes, engaged minds and open hearts, be willing to see reality as it is, including its complexities and injustices, and from that vantage point join the work of equity, reconciliation and social justice, all of which are undeniably intertwined.





Through the lens of the Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, inclusion reflects the daily effort to companion Christ in mission actively, a mission that is ultimately about helping to foster (or, at least, not obstruct) the definitive home for all, which Christians understand as God's kin-dom.



Excellence echoes Rockhurst University’s core value Magis – choosing the more that is most conducive to the greater good.


The Inclusive Excellence model has five dimensions:

1) Access and Success,

2) Institutional Climate and Intergroup Relations,

3) Education and Scholarship,

4) Institutional Infrastructure, and

5) Community Outreach.


This framework conceptualized as a matrix of integrated initiatives achieves institutional excellence infused with evidence of diversity and inclusion. For planning and enactment purposes, data collection and policy analysis and development address areas of opportunity within each dimension. The dimensions create a framework that assists the institution in monitoring the advancement of diversity and inclusion efforts to safeguard that they remain integrated, intentional and central to the core mission of the University. All dimensions of the Inclusive Excellence model should be prioritized. However, areas will garner greater focus during specific years. For instance, the 2020-2021 academic year will have a greater emphasis on three areas: Institutional Climate and Intergroup Relations, Education and Scholarship, and Institutional Infrastructure.


4A. Access and Success

Goal: Achieve a more diverse and inclusive undergraduate and graduate student body, faculty and staff. This dimension refers to the objectives and strategies used to increase or maintain compositional diversity among the University's constituent groups and includes activities related to recruitment and retention of our students, faculty, staff and board of trustees.


4B. Institutional Climate and Intergroup Relations

Goal: Create and sustain an organizational environment and culture that readily acknowledge and celebrate diversity, and that employ inclusive practices throughout daily operations, thereby deepening Rockhurst's lived expression of and commitment to its core values and to its way of proceeding, which includes animation of the Principles for Ignatian Conversation. This dimension refers to the objectives and strategies that enable the institution to create a climate that is supportive and respectful and that values differing perspectives and experiences.


Institutional Climate and Intergroup Relations Objectives:

1.     Develop a campaign that encourages engaged citizenship through voting

2.     Host Companion Conversations on Diversity and Inclusion focused on anti-racism

3.     Provide FACTUALITY (simulation on structural racism) for new students during Orientation

4.     Offer opportunities for personal reflection and discernment around racism, systemic oppression and justice


4C. Education and Scholarship

Goal: Engage students, faculty, staff, alumni, neighbors, community partners and friends of the University in learning varied perspectives of domestic and international diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice. We accomplish excellence in education and scholarship by offering courses, creating experiential learning opportunities, and designing curricula. Targeted professional development activities directed to improving the multicultural competencies and equity mindedness of faculty and staff will contribute to a learning and research environment where the inclusion, innovation, and transformation referenced in the University's vision thrive.


Education and Scholarship Objectives:

1.     Organize and facilitate CETL workshops that deepen understanding of Diversity, Equity and inclusion in the classroom

2.     Complete the third-party review of student course surveys and pilot a revised method to incorporate student feedback regarding their academic programs and experiences for full implementation in the 2021-2022 academic year

3.     Develop an intentional curriculum (e.g., via distribution through core classes and keystone courses) that will challenge students to understand the issues of social justice related to those excluded due to their race, economic status, sexual orientation, religious tradition, etc.


4D. Institutional Infrastructure

Goal: Create and sustain an institutional infrastructure that effectively supports progress in achieving the diversity goals expressed in the University Strategic Plan and our mission of fostering a genuinely supportive community. Institutional infrastructure refers to the policies, resources, organizational structures and the use of metrics and other evidence to drive intentional decision-making around diversity, equity and inclusion as a central means through which we embody our institutional mission and that of the Jesuits globally.


Institutional Infrastructure Objectives:

1.     Review and revise University hiring policies to enhance the recruitment of diverse pools of job applicants as a means of promoting a more inclusive workforce

2.     Form cadre of Unconscious Bias trainers on campus

3.     Update market compensation study and revisit the calculation of a “living wage” as defined within the University’s Compensation Guidelines.


4E. Community Engagement

Goal: Leverage Rockhurst University's mission-driven commitment to being "in the city for good" to improve outcomes and reduce disparities for historically underrepresented and underserved populations in the Kansas City area and surrounding communities, Missouri and beyond.


This list of actions is not final or enough. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will lead the examination of structures, policies and practices to make the University an inclusive and equitable place for all creating opportunities for students, alumni, faculty, staff, the Board of Trustees and neighbors to engage in dialogue and work together for change. Opportunities for reflection, education and action will mark this year themed: Reflection and Discernment Leading to Action. Over the 2020-2021 academic year, input from constituents will guide the development of a plan for the following four years.


For the full plan, click here.



The following describes the ways people can plug into the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan.


Opportunities for Reflection

Do the Racism Examen offered by Mission and Ministry

Attend listening sessions offered by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Do the 21-Day Ignatian Racial Equity Challenge

Read The Assumptions of White Privilege and What We Can Do About It by Bryan Massingale

Attend FACTUALITY simulation during New Student Orientation

Participate in Know Justice, Know Peace: A Jesuit Antiracism Retreat

Participate in Voter Education Values Clarification Activity offered by RU

Attend Creating a Home for All: Panel Discussion on Race and Justice


Opportunities for Education

Create an Anti-Racism Action Plan

Learn about voting (in-person and absentee)

Attend World Cultures Day

Take the Dividing Lines: A History of Segregation in Kansas City


Opportunities for Action

Register to Vote