Update on diversity, equity and inclusion at Wichita State

As you may be aware, there has been a national spotlight on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and the Kansas Legislature and Kansas Board of Regents have been focused on this issue for the past several months.   

As those conversations have been ongoing, WSU has been working diligently to ensure all our students — regardless of background — are positioned to succeed, graduate and start their careers. To that end, WSU is focusing on using more inclusive terminology, signaling our dedication to holistic and integrated approaches to excellence and inclusivity. You may notice a change in commonly used nomenclatures at WSU, including the re-naming of some offices and strategies to “inclusive excellence” and similar language. Information on other efforts can be found in these frequently asked questions (see below). 

Changes to these efforts have no effect on curriculum, instruction or research, ensuring the preservation of academic freedom.  

“At WSU, we recognize the evolving landscape of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Our focus remains steadfast on providing an inclusive environment where all students can excel,” says Dr. Marché Fleming-Randle, vice president and director of Military and Veteran Programs. “We’re transitioning our efforts to embrace a more integrated approach, ensuring every student has the resources and support necessary to achieve their goals.”  

“WSU is committed to fostering an environment where every student has the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging that allows them to thrive,” says Dr. Shirley Lefever, executive vice president and provost.   

University listening and feedback sessions will be scheduled for this fall and communicated in WSU Today.  

Frequently asked questions:  

  • What happens to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI)? ODI and the Office of Student Engagement Advocacy & Leadership (SEAL) are merging to provide a more comprehensive and expanded effort to enhance student engagement and belonging. The merging of these offices will result in a more sustainable utilization of resources, eliminate redundancy in programs and help develop more comprehensive programs and initiatives for students. Staff positions within ODI and SEAL will become part of Student Engagement and Belonging, providing an opportunity to serve and support students.  
  • What happens to scholarships that address diversity? The university is in the process of reviewing current scholarships to ensure the most inclusive application pool.  
  • What are the changes to state law? State universities, community colleges and technical colleges are prohibited from using diversity, equity or inclusion consideration in their admissions, student aid and hiring decisions.  
  • What are the changes to Kansas Board of Regents policy? KBOR institutions are barred from requiring statements pledging allegiance to, support for or opposition to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in applications for admission, hiring or promotion.  
  • How does this affect academic freedom? Changes to these efforts have no effect on curriculum, instruction or research, ensuring the preservation of academic freedom.