Report on Action Plan for a DEIG-Driven and Safe MICA


Date: October 16, 2020
To: Members of the MICA Community
From: Samuel Hoi, President
Re: Report on Action Plan for a DEIG-Driven and Safe MICA

Dear MICA community,

On July 15, Board of Trustees Chair Gwen Davidson and I issued the Action Plan for a DEIG-Driven and Safe MICA. It expresses the College’s top-level institutional commitment to fundamental change that addresses the institutional critique and demand for change received over the summer regarding long-standing campus issues that have continued to persist.

This memo serves as a report on the progress that has been made to implement the critical changes promised in the July 15 Action Plan. This progress is a result of collaboration between many campus members and the administration.


Let me begin by thanking the broad spectrum of community members — from alumni to current students, faculty, and staff that have shared ideas, urged actions, and ensured these important issues remained at the fore of our collective agenda. I would like to acknowledge the following communications from their respective groups: SVA Open Letter for DEIG, MICA Adjunct Faculty Solidarity Statement, MICA Callout Collective Demand for Accountability, MICA Illustration Alumni Letter, Adjunct Faculty’s Title IX Letter to MICA, and Demands for Share Governance from SVA/Faculty/SEC/Adjunct Bodies. In case I have inadvertently left out a group communication, please know that your voices join the substance of these communications in informing the follow-up work on the July 15 Action Plan.

Throughout this ongoing process, many campus members have been engaged in the design and launch of the many action efforts described in this report. I am deeply grateful for the open spirit and thoughtful contributions of the many campus constituents who have participated. A collaborative path is our productive path forward.

Topline Summary

As this is a substantive report, an at-a-glance summary of the key actions described within it has been provided below for your convenience:

  • We are on course for receiving proposals from independent, third-party consulting firms to improve complaint collection, investigation, and reporting processes at MICA. They are due next week and we aim to pilot the new system in Spring 2021. Campus voices have been involved in shaping the Request for Proposal (RFP) and will stay involved in the vetting of proposals.

  • The RFP process will also lead to the establishment of an ombud system for students and staff, as well as potential enhancement of the existing ombud system for faculty.

  • Human Resources will move under the Office of the President this month.

  • A multi-constituency collaborative workgroup, driven by student leaders, has been working together on the SVA Open Letter by themes and by priorities to generate actionable responses to the letter.

  • Our first Director of DEI has been hired; Shannon Ingram joined us in that role in August.

  • The promised BI+POC initiatives are all progressing: BI+POC Advisory Council (BAC), The Space for Creative Black Imagination, and The Center for DEIG (working title).

  • A multi-constituency Shared Governance Workgroup has been formed and will start meeting this month to work on MICA’s cross-campus shared governance model to pilot in Spring 2021.

The full report follows.

Concrete and Accountable Steps

Since the issuance of the July 15 Plan, many promised actions have been initiated to meet the two related goals for the College detailed within it: 1) A safe, responsive, and supportive campus; and 2) A DEIG-Driven MICA.

1. Actions for a Safe, Responsive, and Supportive Campus

The overall goal of this set of actions is to establish a safe and accountable campus environment for students, staff, and faculty. This work focuses on institutional systems, classroom and workplace culture, community healing, and the restoration of trust.

  • Third-Party Reviews & Consultancy for Improved Reporting and Complaint Process, as well as New Ombud System for Students and Staff:

    • Two outside experts (Grand River Solutions and Gallagher, Evelius & Jones) were engaged in July to conduct objective and thorough investigations in two academic program areas where specific complaints have come forth. A multitude of campus members and alumni have been interviewed in the process. One investigation has recently been completed, leading to responsible personnel actions; the complainants have been briefed about the findings and the outcomes. The other investigation, involving a broader scope, is ongoing. Due to confidentiality and the ongoing investigation, further details cannot be shared at this point. Guided by the consultancy described immediately below and to the extent allowed by law, MICA will share data about the types, volume, and status of complaints being reported and investigated.

    • A request for proposals (RFP) has been developed and issued to a number of outside, independent consulting firms to assist in investigating complaints and developing policies, procedures, and practices for managing grievances across the campus. The work includes an environmental scan and the creation of an ombud system at MICA. An advisory group of 10 individuals—including students, staff, full-time and part-time faculty, representing the voices of FEC, GCSC, GSC, SEC, and SVA—provided input and endorsed the final RFP. Proposals are due October 19, and the advisory group will stay involved with the selection process.

    • Guided by the consultant findings and recommendations, MICA will put in place in Spring 2021 a clear and safe process for campus members to register complaints and grievances, as well as protocols to ensure follow-ups, due process for those complained against, and accountability. An interim third-party expert will be engaged for Fall 2020 to help us address Title IX concerns; details will be shared later this month. As an important step forward, a single and user-friendly digital platform for all campus members to register complaints will be set up by the start of the Spring 2021 semester.

    • Through the RFP process and appropriate expansion of campus consultation as the process unfolds, MICA will work with student and staff leaders to implement an ombud system for students and staff, and enhance the system already in place for faculty. The work is on track for Spring 2021 piloting.

  • Strengthening Human Resources:

    • Human Resources (HR), currently a part of Operation and Finance, will become an independent unit reporting directly to the President this month, ahead of the original schedule of Spring 2021. The recent Reimagined HR survey has generated nearly 150 entries from the campus community within a week and has been extended through Friday, October 16, for further input – you still have time to add your voice! I will share through a separate campus memo the next steps in the relaunch of HR at MICA and how the campus community will continue to be engaged in the re-envisioning of this critical service for faculty, staff, and students.

  • Expanding Mandatory Training for Employees, and Enhanced Training for Students:

    • The required annual SafeColleges online training for all employees continues this fall. It includes modules on Title IX and Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Awareness in the Workplace, Implicit Bias & Micro Aggression Awareness, and other forms of anti-racism training. Implicit bias training is required for all members of the MICA community participating in searches for faculty and staff. Additional online learning options through LinkedIn Learning (formerly offer topics such as Confronting Bias, Engaging Meaningfully in Allyship and Anti-Racism, and Becoming and Inclusive Leader. A further layer of professional development opportunities for faculty and staff has been developed by the new Center for Teaching Innovation and Exchange (C/TIE). This summer, C/TIE facilitated the participation of 100 faculty and staff in the Adaway Group’s Whiteness at Work series, enhanced by staff-led conversations on the training. During MICA’s "opening week" for faculty in August, C/TIE sponsored faculty-led workshops for peers on Baltimore History / MICA History and Facilitating an Inclusive Critique, as well as a keynote address on The Radical Possibility of Disruption: From Surviving the Crisis to Embracing Black Futurity. Professional development themes addressed in the summer have been extended into Fall 2020 with repeated offerings of the Boundaries and Vulnerability: Trauma-Informed Pedagogy and Facilitating an Inclusive Critique workshops.

    • Since July 15, multiple student trainings by Student Affairs, including but not limited to Orientation, have been enhanced to build student knowledge on their rights, as well as ways to contribute in matters related to Title IX and DEIG. For new students, pre-orientation modules included Title IX & MICA and DEIG Introduction. Orientation incorporated speakers on topics of Systemic Racism & Using Restorative Practices and Building an Inclusive Community. This Fall for all students, Student Affairs has expanded and diversified the series of available educational sessions for in-class workshops. To date, the Center for Identity & Inclusion and the Center for Student Engagement have scheduled and/or presented a total of 16 workshops this semester on diversity, equity and inclusion topics.

  • Healing & Trust Restorative Program through Community of Care:

    • The Community of Care Committee has worked with its large and inclusive cross-campus membership to initiate efforts that have included: fostering anti-racist training for international students, proposed by faculty and led by students; initiating and supporting campus forums, including the all-Black, all-POC, and all campus anti-racist forums and others. The website, which will launch by the end of Fall 2020, will serve as a virtual community center with activities, services, games, fitness, podcasts, MICA Stories, virtual calming, and events.

2. Actions for a DEIG-Driven MICA

The overall goal of this set of actions is to fulfill the promise of the original DEIG commitment in the following ways:

  • MICA will provide an environment—both in the classroom and on the campus—that authentically reflects its Mission, Vision, and Tenets.

  • MICA will transcend its racist past and present to be a worthy destination for BI+POC students, staff, and faculty.

These actions are moving MICA on a strong course to meet the above goals:

  • Mapping the SVA Open Letter for DEIG Demands with SVA Leaders for Feasibility and Implementation:

    • Since July, a dedicated group of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and administrators has been meeting every other week to work through the thoughtful and wide-ranging advocacy expressed within the Open Letter. This group has been systematically discussing the Open Letter thematic area by thematic area. Examples include the recent multi-meeting sessions on the curriculum and MICA’s budget. At every possible juncture, agreement on changes in the systems and structures at the College have been made and documented. These conversations are likely to continue deep into the Fall Semester. The group is actively discussing the appropriate vehicle for sharing updates with the broader campus community

  • Hiring MICA’s First Director of DEI:

    • On August 17, Shannon Ingram joined MICA as our first Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Reporting to the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Sheri Parks, within the Office of the President, Shannon’s first long-term project is to build a large-scale cultural systems analysis of MICA with respect to the policies, structures, patterns, and legacies that have informed its history and culture. This analysis will inform her recommendations for the College’s DEI work going forward. Shannon has already reached out to, and has had conversations with many MICA members.

  • Appointing a BI+POC Advisory Council:

    • In July, I met with a group of BI+POC alum, faculty, and staff leaders to design an advisory council that they feel would be of substance and have impact. The resultant 16-member BI+POC Advisory Council (BAC) was formed in late July with meetings starting in September. We now have a BAC Charter & Work Plan to share with the campus community the Council’s goals, priorities, and membership. A proper BAC web presence is planned.

  • High-Impact Collegewide BI+POC Support Initiatives:

    • As promised on July 15, MICA has fast-tracked two exciting initiatives conceived and created by BI+POC leaders to deepen the College’s commitment to desegregated teaching and learning, making, research, and scholarship that will benefit all campus members.

      • The Space for Creative Black Imagination (The Space): The Space has been approved and will pilot its work this academic year, beginning immediately. Co-directed by Dr. Mel Lewis and Dr. Raél Jero Salley and located within Strategic Initiatives, this making and research institute expands the theory and practice of culture, race, social justice, and imagination into interdisciplinary and interactive social projects in visual, design, and media studies. Its projected activities include making, research, teaching, mentoring, and public projects.

      • The Center for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Globalization (Temporary Title): To launch in Spring 2021 and to be led by Colette Veasey-Cullors, this center will combine and expand upon the College’s current multi-faceted programs and services in the Center for Identity and Inclusion (CII) and the Center for Creative Citizenship (CCC) that are inclusive, culturally responsive, and explicit about race, equity and justice. Located within Academic Affairs and working closely with Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, this center will broaden and strengthen the integration of DEIG-rich initiatives in academics, in student life and support, and in campus life for all.

  • Creating an Endowed Fund to Support DEIG Efforts:

    • Preparation work is on course with the Board of Trustees and the Office of Advancement. Even in this challenging fiscal year, I am confident in the creation of this endowed fund at the level of $2 million, which will yield annual support of $100,000. Please stay tuned.

Shared Governance as Path to Accountability & Collaboration

All campus constituencies—administration, faculty, staff, students, trustees—are united in wanting a well-defined and thoughtful shared governance system across campus. It is our One MICA way forward to build trust and team effectiveness. It is also the foundation we need to implement accountability as a coordinated and rigorous system of checks and balances. Shared governance is central to our ability to work more collaboratively and equitably as a critical creative community.

To that end, the Shared Governance Workgroup has been formed with key constituency group leaders. The Shared Governance Workgroup Plan shares the purpose, membership, process, deliverables, and a projected timeline. The first meeting will take place on October 23.

In addition, the Student Voice Association is partnering with other student leaders and the Student Affairs Division in drafting the constitution for the first-ever formal student government at MICA. The student government is anticipated to launch by Fall 2021.

Cross-Constituency Communication Forum

Student, staff, and faculty constituency leaders have also agreed to begin meeting together with administrative leaders at regular intervals for more effective communication. The pilot will begin this November. At the first meeting, the group will discuss how best to share information with the larger community. This is in anticipation of the shared governance structure that will emerge as a result of the Shared Governance Workgroup.

Concluding Note of Thanks and Hope

I sincerely thank the many campus constituency leaders and at-large community members who have put in time, efforts, and ideas to advance all the reported actions. Against a background of broken trust, I do not take for granted this meaningful participation that demonstrates a common desire of the campus community to work together to build a better and stronger MICA for all. I am inspired, grateful, and hopeful.

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