Global Education Center achieves less than half of strategic plan goals in first few years

Only seven of 52 goals were met in Elon University’s Global Education Center’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. Created in 2019, the master plan was to be completed between 2020 and 2025, with goals set by GEC members to serve Elon students and their global studies from an DEI perspective.

In its second year, the strategic plan is only at 13.5%, but the lack of progress is not necessarily due to the long list of items, but rather to the global pandemic that has come into play. when it was founded, according to managing partner of global diversity and inclusion Allegra Laing.

“It was daunting to launch a strategic plan in light of a global pandemic, not knowing what the campus would look like and, to be quite honest, people’s attitudes toward global engagement,” Laing said. “I’m okay with it taking more than five years, as long as we get it right. I think we have to, realistically at this point, say it could take more than five years in light of the changes the campus has been going through.

Despite the large number of goals created by GEC staff members at the time, Laing said that when the team first came together to create the strategic plan, there were originally 88 goals, but they narrowed it down to 52. Each element of the plan was created to serve minority populations engaged in global education such as African American/Black, Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American , Alaska Native and multiracial, first generation, high financial need, LGBTQIA, diverse religious backgrounds, and students with disabilities.

When it started in the 2020-21 school year, the GEC started 16 goals – seven were completed and nine carried over to the 2021-22 school year.

Goals in 2020 focused on staff professional development to improve their knowledge of diversity, equity and inclusion through group readings and DEI terminology presentations. The GEC has also achieved other goals such as developing a timeline for verifying identity-based resources on its website, reviewing the process for submitting new programs, and integrating identity-based resources into the appointment booking process.

The Dean of the Global Education Center, Nick Gozik, wrote in an email to Elon News Network that staff professional development in diversity, equity and inclusion will also help students appreciate, understand and manage the differences at university.

“I don’t think we can continue to operate without embracing diversity, equity and inclusion in all of our work,” Gozik wrote. “Some may see a separation between globalization and diversity, equity and inclusion, though it’s hard not to see how these areas are two sides of the same coin.”

Although Gozik is not part of the task force members on the strategic plan as he joined Elon in 2021, he is still working closely with the achievement of current goals today.

Every item that has been completed or started so far is listed on the GEC’s DEI Strategic Plan website. Laing, who works with each staff member to verify the goals they have created, said it was good for the Elon community to be aware of the GEC’s plans, but also to hold the center accountable for its progress. .

“One of the reasons all the goals appear on the website is to hold us accountable,” Laing said. “If people know what we’re planning to do, it’s harder for us to backtrack on those things.”

New objectives set this year

For the 2021-22 school year, there are 17 ongoing goals – nine carried over from the previous year and eight new ones started. Ongoing goals this year include the generation of annual reports that will review financial need by programs and terms, racial and ethnic breakdown by programs and terms, and review identity-based resources on the GEC website.

According to Laing, one goal that was partially met is Goal 14: “Identify identity-based student organizations on campus and create a plan to initiate contact by spring 2021.” The GEC has partially achieved this through the recent creation of the ALANAM Student Advisory Council, a group created in the spring of 2022 to allow students to have their voices heard and have a direct impact on future decisions of the Global Education Center.

Global Education communications manager Shanna Van Beek worked with Laing and other faculty members in 2019 to develop the plan. Since then, she says she has seen Laing direct work that she defines as “quite exceptional at this level in our field”.

“Few global education centers or study abroad offices have a 52-point strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion that has been fully developed and executed by its staff, from the top department to entry-level professionals,” Van Beek wrote in an email. at Elon News Network. “It’s slow work, and it can be hard work as we look directly at the gaps in order to assess and improve. But it’s important and necessary work, and I’m grateful to Allegra for guiding us through it.

One goal that Van Beek created but has not yet been launched by the GEC is the ninth goal: “Create an intentional process to highlight the stories of students from underserved communities on the GEC website and social media platforms.” Van Beek helped define a number of goals that focus on communications or use communications as a means to achieve a goal, and although they have not yet been launched or achieved, they remain important elements to recognize. .

“This goal will require substantial work on building the infrastructure, but frankly, with the volume of students studying at Elon and the reputation Elon has built on global education, there is a need and an opportunity to better amplify the stories of underrepresented students,” Van Beek wrote.

Gozik also said that Elon’s work on the strategic plan will take time as each staff member is responsible for some of the goals.

“One of the things that Elon excels at is planning. We are making slow and steady progress, with a clear vision in mind,” Gozik wrote. “The GEC’s DEI strategic plan is no different. It’s ambitious, with 52 points and a five-year timeline, but it’s also well thought out and doable. Each year we tackle a new set of goals, with each member of staff taking responsibility for one. It’s exciting to see the progress continue.

As the GEC continues to realize more items on the list, the center also plans to reflect the themes of Elon’s institutional strategic plan for 2030, Boldy Elon. The center plans to assess its progress towards the goals and possibly develop a plan for 2025 to 2030 if necessary.

Although the plan is only 13% complete, Laing said there was still the question in 2020 of whether it should be adopted as a strategic plan due to the ambiguity of global engagement. due to the pandemic. But as the team thought about it more, it was still a “resounding yes”.

While it’s likely the plan will need to be extended beyond five years due to changes in global education due to the pandemic, it’s all about getting it right, especially when it comes to diversity. , equity and inclusion.

“The problems do not change, the problems will persist even when the pandemic is over. The time to start change is always now, the time to start change is always today,” Laing said. “I think we recognized that it might take longer due to the pandemic…and to do it right, it might take longer. But I’m thrilled that we’re on this journey together, and I’m looking forward to it next year.