I recently spoke at the Celebration of Diversity event about my vision of diversity on our campus. My blog this week summarizes this talk and addresses diversity and its inextricable link to excellence.

I want to share with you several next steps we are taking to ensure that we put actions behind my words as part of a new Inclusive Illinois initiative called Illinois EDGE - Enhancing Diversity, Guiding Excellence. I have created a small leadership group: the Chancellor's and Provost's Faculty Advisory Council on Diversity and Cultural Understanding. Professor James Anderson has agreed to serve as my senior advisor and to chair this council. Professor Anderson will be joined by three other senior faculty colleagues who will serve as Chancellor's Advisors on Diversity and Cultural Understanding: Dean Deba Dutta, Professor Steve Zimmerman, and Professor Sandra Rodriguez-Zas. The council will work closely with the existing Diversity Administrative Coordinating Team (DACT) that supports individuals, units, and the offices of the Chancellor, Student Affairs, and Provost to evaluate diversity initiatives.

I have asked the council to initiate a listening and learning tour with executive officers, directors of graduate programs, department heads, and chairs to understand the challenges and opportunities related to diversity. I have asked them to develop an action plan to institutionalize a culture of diversity and excellence on campus through the development of a structure and culture of responsibility, incentive, and accountability. This plan should respect the importance of leadership at all levels and must include objectives, targets, goals, implementation steps, and timelines. I also have asked them to evaluate progress on the action plan and recommend adjustments to the chancellor and the provost based on their findings to facilitate the achievement of the goals and objectives. Finally, I have asked them to ensure that their efforts interconnect with our Visioning Future Excellence initiative.

Associate Chancellor Menah Pratt-Clarke will be working closely with the council as well as DACT to ensure their efforts are aligned and consistent with what we, as a campus, want to achieve.

I am committed to the Diversity Values Statement recently passed by the Academic Senate. That statement indicates 'We support diversity of worldviews, histories, and cultural knowledge across a range of social groups including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, abilities, economic class, religion, and their intersections.' I look forward to each of you joining me in a renewed commitment to diversity and cultural understanding.


Phyllis M. Wise
Vice President, University of Illinois
Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Read more about the leaders of this initiative:

Professor Jim Anderson has a long and distinguished history of research in this field and leads the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership ' one of the most diverse units on campus in terms of faculty, staff, students and curriculum. Most recently, he served as interim dean of the College of Education. Together, his scholarship and his academic leadership experience make him uniquely qualified to lead these efforts.

Professor Steve Zimmerman most recently served as chair of the Department of Chemistry and serves on the chancellor's and provost's Gender Equity Council. He has demonstrated a significant commitment to issues of diversity, particularly those related to women in the sciences.
Professor Sandra Rodriguez-Zas is a well-respected scholar in Animal Sciences and Statistics and helps lead the Latino New Biology Initiative in the College of ACES. She is an important voice on issues of cultural and gender diversity and has demonstrated success in student recruitment.

Dean Deba Dutta serves as dean of the Graduate College and as associate provost. He has initiated an aggressive program within the Graduate College to increase the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities. He will be a critical link to the Provost's Office and to other deans on these diversity efforts.  

Members of DACT:
Vice Provost Barb Wilson, Associate Chancellor Menah Pratt-Clarke, Senate Chair Matthew Wheeler, Student Senate President Brock Gebhardt, Vice Chancellor Renee Romano, and Dean Ruth Watkins.

Watch the chancellor's speech at the Celebration of Diversity:

Read the chancellor's blog on diversity and excellence:

Visit the Visioning Future Excellence site:

Read the Academic Senate's Diversity Values Statement:


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