Our Commitment

Washburn University has a founding legacy as Lincoln College that brings pride to many. In 1865, it was one of the first universities in the country to welcome women and African Americans and to remove economic barriers to education by making scholarships available to “meritorious young persons” and veterans.

But while we have much to be proud of, as a community, we are far from perfect. There is much work to be done to fully commit ourselves to the dismantling of systemic racism and true inclusion on our campus. This work will not be easy. It will require a sustained commitment from each of us and the strong partnership that exists at Washburn between academics and student life will be more important than ever.

We have launched this webpage to catalog the University’s efforts to advance inclusion at Washburn and in our Topeka community.

This webpage will also serve to hold Washburn publicly accountable to advancing our efforts toward achieving a more inclusive campus.

Recent Initiatives

  • Adoption of “inclusion” as core university value
  • Adoption of inclusivity statement required to be included in every university course syllabus, academic course catalog, and webpage
  • Mandatory language for every faculty and staff position posting stating that Washburn is especially interested in applicants who contribute to the University’s diversity priorities and have demonstrated commitment to inclusive teaching practices
  • Applicants are now required to state in their application materials how they will contribute to the University’s diversity priorities
  • Mandatory training for search committees on equitable hiring practices
  • Outreach plans for diversifying applicant pools are now required of every faculty position
  • Revision of Ally workshops and creation of new ally programs
  • Expansion of faculty trainings in inclusive teaching through the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning (CTEL), and the development of a Certificate of Inclusive Teaching that faculty may earn after attending at least nine trainings each year
  • Creation of two new faculty leadership roles: Faculty Teaching Fellows in Diversity and Inclusion, to develop and implement faculty and staff training in inclusive teaching and culturally sustaining pedagogies
  • Mandatory inclusive teaching trainings included as part of New Faculty Orientation
  • Creation of Success Coach positions: The Washburn Academic Success Program guides to support underrepresented students by eliminating barriers to success and cultivating student strengths
  • Creation of First-Generation Specialist position to provide focused support and outreach for first-generation students
  • Creation of Ichabods Moving Forward Fund to encourage donor support of students from first-generation and/or low socioeconomic backgrounds
  • Charter of two historically Latina Greek-Letter Organizations
  • Creation of We Are F1rst student organization to support success of first-generation students
  • KTWU Minds that Matter Series, featuring Tim Wise, author and lecturer on racism and social justice in the United States
  • USD 437 Foundation Lecture featuring John Carlos, author of The John Carlos Story
  • Brown v. Board 65th Anniversary Lecture featuring Ta-Nehisi Coates, professor and author of Between the World and Me
  • Brown v. Board National Historic Site Community Conversation on Race and Social Justice featuring Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to be an Anti-Racist
  • Understanding Faith Series, presentations by community faith leaders on Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Wicca, Voodoo, Santeria, Agnostic, Atheism, Non-religious/Unitarian, Baha'i, and Hindu

What we are currently working on

  • Climate survey conducted among faculty, staff, and students in early spring 2020
  • Creation of Bias Response Team for fall 2020 to respond to incidents of bias on campus
  • Professional Development Opportunities for Faculty and Staff
  • Creation of online training for faculty in inclusive teaching and culturally sustaining pedagogies
  • Research and development of a resource guide for faculty and staff to help support first-generation, low income, and underrepresented students
  • Redesign of courses across the university to incorporate more inclusive curriculum and pedagogy
  • Interdisciplinary study research on faculty training in inclusive teaching
  • Development of African American and African Diaspora Studies minor program for fall 2020 
  • Implementation of the Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant, a multi-year federal grant awarded to expand Washburn’s capacity to serve low-income students

Development of the Washburn University Intersectional Learning Space, (The Intersection) opening fall 2020 to provide student-centered support for students identified as historically marginalized

Specific areas we’ve identified as needing additional action

  • Begin holding regular meetings with Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. JuliAnn Mazachek, Vice President of Student Life Dr. Eric Grospitch, and multi-cultural student organization advisory board
  • Review of University policies and processes to identify and eliminate institutional bias
  • Review of General Education Curriculum, including:
    • Audit of how race and social justice is taught at Washburn
    • Review of program degree plans to help students identify where courses focusing on social justice and the experiences of experiences of Black and Indigenous People of Color will fit in their graduation plans
    • Increase number of general education courses that focus on combatting systemic racism and the experiences of Black and Indigenous People of Color
  • Creation of space for prayer, meditation and reflection
  • Increase number of faculty who participate in inclusive teaching and cultural competency trainings
  • Enhance university involvement in the Topeka community to advance social justice
  • Complete university-wide diversity and inclusion strategic planning
  • Increase number of need-based scholarship awards with annual measurable goals
  • Increase recruitment efforts with the aim of raising enrollment of students of color to meet or exceed the state of Kansas demographics
  • Increase efforts to raise retention and graduation rates of students of color with annual measurable goals
  • Increase hiring and retention of faculty and staff of color
  • Develop partnerships with local minority-serving institutions, including Haskell Indian Nations University
  • Conduct outreach to diversity-minded donors and community partners interested in enhancing WU diversity to create such opportunities as:
    • Academic cohort focused on the scholarship of race and social justice
    • Visiting professorship(s) for graduate students/graduates from HBCUs, HSIs, and Native institutions
    • Post-doc opportunities for students of color to work in counseling services

Resources for Further Reading on Confronting Systemic Racism

Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism by Charles W. Mills 2017

Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome by Alondra Nelson 2016

Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority by Tim Wise 2012

Back Lash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly About Racism in America by George Yancy 2018

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo 2018

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi 2019

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi 2016/2017

Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in ihe Cafeteria? By Beverly Daniel Tatum 1997/2017

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo 2018

Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing by Joy DeGruy 2005

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele 2013

The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander 2010

Black Minds Matter: Realizing the Brilliance, Dignity, and Morality of Black Males in Education by Dr. J. Luke Wood 2018

The Implicit Association Test – Project Implicit – Harvard University https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/education.html 

Create Meaningful Change In Your Community – 10 Week Online Course By Dr. Joy DeGruy - https://www.joydegruy.com/online-course

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Social Justice https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234 

“Talking About Race” from the National Museum of African American History and Culture https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race 

If you would like to share a suggestion or feedback

Please email wucandobetter@washburn.edu 


You can also share ideas and feedback with:

Dr. Juli Mazachek, Vice President of Academic Affairs

Dr. Eric Grospitch, Vice President of Student Life

Dr. Melanie Burdick, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning (CTEL)

Isaiah Collier, MEd, Director of Office of Student Involvement and Development

Danielle Dempsey-Swopes, JD, Director of University Diversity and Inclusion

Dr. Kelly Erby, Assistant Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

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