Diversity and Community Engagement
The University of Mississippi

School of Journalism and New Media

School of Journalism and New Media
Five-Year Equity-in-Action Plan
INTRODUCTION

MESSAGE FROM DEAN

The School of Journalism and New Media has long embraced the idea that diversity, equity and inclusion are essential elements of any university education, especially for those who will one day work as journalists, integrated marketed communications practitioners or in any media-related profession.

This plan governs the work of staff and faculty who instruct and support students seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and the Bachelor of Science in integrated marketing communications. It is designed to be a living document as our understanding of what it means to be inclusive, equitable and diverse continues to evolve.

We reiterate our values in this area with a statement included in the syllabus for every course we offer: “The school is committed to diversity in the classroom, in its publications, personnel and in its various organizations and components. Faculty and staff recognize that the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of their colleagues and students are best served through respect toward gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, culture and other personal characteristics. In addition, the school is committed to taking a leadership position that calls for promoting a commitment to diversity in and out of the classroom and in the practice of journalism and integrated marketing communications.”

The mission of the School of Journalism and New Media is to lead and excel in the education of a diverse body of students in our programs. The plan detailed in this document will guide us as we strive to succeed in this critical mission.

Debora Wenger, Ph.D.
Interim Dean/Professor

MESSAGE FROM DIVERSITY LIAISON

By cultivating genuine humility, curiosity and a desire to learn, in the School of Journalism and New Media we teach students to be observant, to ask respectful questions and to be good listeners. It is our desire to help students understand that we all have biases that need to be identified so that we can be prepared and open to have those misconceptions corrected. It is absolutely no good being a keen observer if your own cultural conditioning causes you to misinterpret what you are seeing.

Marquita Smith, Ed.D.

Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs

GUIDING STATEMENT

The mission of the School of Journalism and New Media is to lead and excel in the education of a diverse body of students in journalism and integrated marketing communications. Grounded in truth, freedom of expression, responsibility and integrity, the faculty and staff will:

  1. Prepare students to succeed in an ever-changing, integrated and global media landscape.
  2. Encourage research and creative work to add to the body of knowledge and to serve the journalism and communication professions. 

PATHWAYS TO EQUITY: University of Mississippi Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan

The University of Mississippi continues its commitment to excellence and making a positive difference in society through higher education. Pathways to Equity stands as our institutional guidepost for addressing and advancing our institutional mission through centering on diversity, equity and inclusion. Our complex institutional history coupled with our rich culture of students, faculty and staff striving for inclusive change has led us to the solidification of this institutional plan. Pathways to Equity works in concert with the university’s strategic plan to leverage university-wide, college/school-level and departmental transformative initiatives that cultivate a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus.

With Pathways to Equity, the University of Mississippi aspires to achieve the following statements by the conclusion of this plan.

  1. The University of Mississippi consistently and comprehensively articulates diversity, equity and inclusion as essential in fulfilling the mission, vision and values of the institution.
  2. The University of Mississippi is organizationally and culturally equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to continue advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.
  3. A campus climate is fostered that ensures all individuals are valued, supported and feel a sense of belonging at the University of Mississippi.
  4. The University of Mississippi has decreases in disparities across underrepresented groups in the enrollment, retention and graduation rate at undergraduate and graduate levels.
  5. The number of underrepresented groups employed at the University of Mississippi is increased to reflect a talented and diverse workforce at all organizational levels, especially tenure-track faculty, managerial positions and executive leadership positions.

Guiding Principles

The development of this plan requires us to address individual, social, organizational and systemic factors that create and sustain inequities that prevent all members of our community from fully participating and thriving. We view this as central to the mission of the University of Mississippi. As we embark on this journey together, we must commit to the following shared principles:

  1. Equity-mindedness[1] – We embrace the institutional responsibility and agency to actively address the challenges and disparate outcomes at all levels of our community. This requires us to be data informed and connect best and promising practices to generate high-impact change for underserved groups in our community.
  2. Institutional Accountability – We must ensure efforts outlined throughout Pathways to Equity are acknowledged in the established systems of recognition, performance and accountability. It is vital that we work to account for the advancement of these goals in our ideas of success, merit and reward. Further, we must account for, honor and recognize faculty, staff, administrators and students in their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  3. Transparency – In our execution of Pathways to Equity, our success is predicated on a highly accessible and collaborative process that actively involves university stakeholders to work as virtuous partners. To that end, we will consistently, publicly and broadly share our intended actions, goals and measurable impacts of this plan.
  4. Innovation – Actualizing diversity, equity and inclusion will require us to deeply examine and rethink our policies, practices and procedures at the University of Mississippi. Each unit and individual across campus is invited to offer new thoughts, ideas and perspectives as we thoughtfully consider ways to make our institution more equitable and inclusive through an intersectional lens. This disposition will create a community of learning, growth and development as we collectively engage in this complex work.
  5. Alignment of Critical Resources – During this planning process, we have navigated a global health pandemic that has shown the vulnerabilities in our systems that disparately affect underserved and under-resourced communities. As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, we must not falter in our commitment to creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community. Instead, we must recognize that our commitment to equity is even more important today than ever.

OVERARCHING GOALS

The following goals represent the University of Mississippi’s commitment to the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). These overarching goals represent interconnected priorities that are applicable to UM broadly, from our comprehensive divisions, down to individual teams. We aim to have all units see meaningful alignment of these goals with their work. We will ensure UM embraces the transformative nature of diversity, equity and inclusion across all levels of the institution, addressing challenges to DEI at every corner of our institution by combining contextual understanding with internal and external expertise.

  1. Advance Institutional Capacity for Equity
    Infrastructure, Information, Systems, Education and Processes
  2. Cultivate a Diverse and Equitable Community
    Recruiting, Retaining, Advancing and Succeeding
  3. Foster an Inclusive Campus Climate
    Support, Value and Belonging

SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AND NEW MEDIA FIVE-YEAR EQUITY-IN-ACTION PLAN

OVERVIEW

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION COMMITTEE

Develops strategies and follows through on (1) faculty and staff diversity and inclusion, (2) diversity and inclusion, (3) diversity and inclusion awareness in student ranks and (4) diversity in speakers and programming. Files comprehensive annual report with the dean of the school.

  • Cynthia Joyce, co-chair, associate professor
  • Zenebe Beyene, co-chair, assistant professor and coordinator of international programs
  • Michael Jon Fagans, assistant professor*
  • Bobby D. Steele, instructional assistant professor*
  • Ronnie K. Morgan, instructional associate professor of journalism and director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association
  • Marquita Smith, assistant dean and associate professor
  • Alysia Marie Steele, associate professor*
  • John Michael Mike Tonos, instructional assistant professor*
  • Kathleen W. Wickham, professor

*Denotes faculty member having served at least 3 years, transitioning off in 2021-22.

STRATEGIC ACTIVITIES

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Premise One – Inclusive Campus Climate

A center for work and study in which all experience the freedom to express themselves and respectfully interact with others; to share information and ideas and to innovate is stronger when a diversity of experiences and viewpoints is encouraged, welcomed and nurtured.

  1. Actions
    1. The faculty and staff will actively communicate a climate of openness and mutual respect in individual and group encounters, through school signage and publications and via administrative transparency.
    2. The school will assure balance in the selection of support faculty.
    3. The school will assure balance in the selection of student workers and in support of student groups and organizations.
    4. The school will seek and support guest speakers of many backgrounds, concentrating on guests from underrepresented groups, those who present nonmainstream (alternative) viewpoints and those who can speak with authority on race, equity, class and power.
    5. While respecting confidentiality when required, the school will track student and other reports made to the university Title IX and/or Bias Incident Report Team.
  2. Metrics
    1. The committee’s annual report will include samples of signage and publications related to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
    2. The committee’s annual reports will enumerate support faculty by race, ethnicity and gender/preference for each academic term and cumulatively each academic year.
Sample
AY 21-22 Fall Winter Spring May Summer (all) August
Male x x x x x x
Female x x x x x x
Minority x x x x x x
Nonminority x x x x x x

Movement toward increasing demographic balance will reflect positively on the actions taken; the greater the movement, the greater the validation. Movement away from balance will trigger an analysis and, as needed, a revision of the selection process.

  1. The committee’s annual reports will enumerate student employees by race, ethnicity and gender/preference for each academic term and cumulatively each academic year and provide details of support provided to student groups, such as travel to seminars and conventions.
  2. The committee’s annual report will list selected guest speakers, noting their backgrounds, topics and number in their audience.
  3. Synopses of Title IX, Bias Incident Report Team and other relevant incidents reported to university-level resources and involving school students or personnel will be compiled, when made available, reviewed by the committee, recorded in the annual report and provided to the full faculty and staff with emphasis on actions taken in response to the reports.

“It contributes greatly towards a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter

Premise Two – Student Recruitment and Retention

The study of journalism and integrated marketing communications at the flagship public university in Mississippi will become stronger as the demographic balance of resident students approaches or exceeds university and state totals and the demographic balance of nonresident students approaches or exceeds national totals with international students as an additional strengthening component.

A (1).      Actions (Recruitment)

  1. While recognizing that recruitment is an essential service for all faculty and staff, the school will maintain at least one-half faculty or staff position for recruitment.
  2. The school will prepare appropriate materials and staff on-campus recruiting events and schedule family visits with faculty members or deans.
  3. The school will design and maintain welcoming and detailed recruiting messages in digital spaces, including but not limited to its website.
  4. The school will prepare and send mailings to all regional high school counselors with information about school programs, scholarships and career opportunities.
  5. The school will celebrate and supply to prospective students information about top internships, awards and employment of recent alumni.
  6. The school will partner with the university on its minority-targeted recruiting efforts and events.
  7. The school will continue to employ an executive director for the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association and support that person’s outreach to and support for public and private schools in the region as well as the director’s membership in and travel to regional and national conferences that include recruiting opportunities.
  8. The school will encourage alumni to recommend prospective students, especially minority students, and will initiate and continue correspondence with prospective students identified by alumni, by the university’s regional recruiters or otherwise brought to the attention of the school.
  9. The school will work with counselors and others at community colleges, including through the university’s regional campuses located at community colleges, to publicize programs and opportunities of the school, especially to nontraditional students.
  10. The school will maintain contact and provide the university’s international student recruiting office detailed information on graduate programs.
  11. Faculty members, as they are available, will support the work of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, speak at student conferences related to the school’s academic program and develop relationships with high school counselors and teachers.
  12. When asked by employers for internship or employment recommendations, faculty and staff will offer diverse pools of candidates.

A (2). Actions (Retention)

  1. The school will communicate with each student identified after midterm each full semester by the provost as “at risk” due to failing grades, offering assistance in the indicated form, usually tutoring or counseling.
  2. The school will work with the provost who identifies students in each six-year cohort who have not completed their degrees by initiating contact and offering assistance, including alternate pathways.
  3. Faculty and staff advisers will offer truthful but encouraging messages in meetings with their assigned advisees each semester.
  4. The school will encourage and participate with the university in alternative degree pathways in Complete to Compete and other programs.

B (1). Metrics (Recruitment)

  1. Annual reports will note faculty or staff member(s) serving in positions where recruiting is in the position description and include sample recruiting materials.
  2. Annual reports will include a synopsis of Mississippi Scholastic Press achievements during the relevant academic year as well as at least two regional schools that had not previously been contacted or visited for recruitment.
  3. Annual reports will chart and track demographics. Additional charts will display the same demographics according to the most recent U.S. Census for (1) Mississippi and (2) the United States. Samples:

 

Resident Freshmen (Fall 20xx) Male Female SOJNM University
Black/African American xx xx xx% xx%
White xx xx xx% xx%
American Indian/Alaska Native xx xx xx% xx%
Asian xx xx xx% xx%
Hispanic/Latino (any race) xx xx xx% xx%
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander xx xx xx% xx%
Two or more races xx xx xx% xx%
Other race xx xx xx% xx%

 

Nonresident Freshmen (Fall 20xx) Male Female SOJNM University
Black/African American xx xx xx% xx%
White xx xx xx% xx%
American Indian/Alaska Native xx xx xx% xx%
Asian xx xx xx% xx%
Hispanic/Latino (any race) xx xx xx% xx%
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander xx xx xx% xx%
Two or more races xx xx xx% xx%
Other race xx xx xx% xx%
International (any race) xx xx xx% xx%

 

All Residents (Fall 20xx) Male Female SOJNM University
Black/African American xx xx xx% xx%
White xx xx xx% xx%
American Indian/Alaska Native xx xx xx% xx%
Asian xx xx xx% xx%
Hispanic/Latino (any race) xx xx xx% xx%
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander xx xx xx% xx%
Two or more races xx xx xx% xx%
Other race xx xx xx% xx%

 

Service Area Male Female U.S. Mississippi
Black/African American xx xx xx% xx%
White xx xx xx% xx%
American Indian/Alaska Native xx xx xx% xx%
Asian xx xx xx% xx%
Hispanic/Latino (any race) xx xx xx% xx%
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander xx xx xx% xx%
Two or more races xx xx xx% xx%
Other race xx xx xx% xx%

Movement toward increasing demographic balance will reflect positively on the actions taken; the greater the movement, the greater the validation of school strengthening. Movement away from balance will trigger an analysis and, as needed, a revision of the action components.

B (2). Metrics (Retention)

  1. If identified as eligible for the Complete to Compete program, guidance will be provided to enable former students to achieve undergraduate degrees.
  2.   Annual reports will track four-, five- and six-year cohorts for retention to graduation. Exceeding university percentages for all students and minorities will be satisfactory. A trend showing a narrowing of the gap between minority and nonminority retention will be deemed satisfactory. A widening gap will trigger a review toward improvement of the actions. Sample:

 

School of Journalism and New Media Enrollment – Fall 2015 – x,xxx

Retention Rate – Based on 2008 Cohort
Retention % UM SOJNM
All xx.x% Minority xx.x% All xx.x% Minority xx.x%
Graduation Rate Four Years UM SOJNM
All xx.x% Minority xx.x% All xx.x% Minority xx.x%
Graduation Rate Five Years UM SOJNM
All xx.x% Minority xx.x% All xx.x% Minority xx.x%
Graduation Rate Six Years UM SOJNM
All xx.x% Minority xx.x% All xx.x% Minority xx.x%

 

“Creating a culture of inclusion is not an optional exercise; it is the indispensable precondition that enables us to capitalize on our diverse skills, perspectives and experiences so that we can better advance the fundamental research and education mission of MIT.”

– Susan Hockfield, 16th president, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

Premise Three – Faculty and Staff Recruitment

Selection of faculty with diverse backgrounds and experiences is a testament to respect for individuals, to freedom of expression and, importantly, mirrors the values of the school to the public as well as students as they prepare to become effective professionals in a global marketplace.

 

A. Actions

  1. All search postings will expressly encourage applicants from diverse groups, including women and minorities.
  2. All search committees will include chairs and members with a wide range of diversity.
  3. Search postings will be placed in traditional and nontraditional forums and will remain open to attract a diverse pool of qualified applicants.
  4. School faculty and staff will be supported in attending conferences and events that optimize opportunities to meet with and recruit potential faculty and staff colleagues.
  5. All new faculty will be paired with an existing faculty member to assist the new member’s assimilation into the school and campus communities.
  6. The school will support collaborative faculty research that includes new faculty.

 

B. Metrics

  1. Annual reports will include texts of faculty and staff advertisements, membership of search committees, information on where the posts appeared, and, where available from Human Resources, demographic information on candidate pools.
  2. Annual reports will list and describe collaborative research or other projects involving new and veteran faculty.
  3. Annual reports will track women and minority service in faculty and staff positions. Meeting or exceeding university averages will be considered satisfactory. Not meeting or exceeding university averages will trigger a review to improve/intensify actions. Sample:
Faculty as of Dec. 31, 20xx
University Total Male % Female % Minority % Nonminority %
xxxx xx xx xx xx
SOJNM xx xx xx xx
xxxx xx xx xx xx

 

Movement toward increasing demographic balance will reflect positively on the actions taken; the greater the movement, the greater the validation of school strengthening. Movement away from balance will trigger an analysis and, as needed, a revision of the action components.        

 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

 

Premise Four – Curriculum

One significance of incorporating the values of diversity, equity and inclusion in education is that it gives students the opportunity to examine their own social and cultural biases, break down those biases, and widen their perspectives. Another, as recognized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, is simultaneously promoting outcomes for all students that employers and society need, such as complex thinking skills, the ability to work across difference, increased civic participation and decreased prejudice and discrimination.

 

A. Actions

  1. Course syllabuses in the school will include statements affirming the school’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in academic settings as in all others.
  2. The committee will poll faculty annually for examples of course content and assignments purposed to increase awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  3. Faculty will work intentionally with the support of IT and other assets to assure that all course materials and course participation is accessible to all students.
  4. Annual exit polls will query students relative to their self-assessment on preparation to live and work in a diverse society.
  5. The school will continue funding and support for organizations and groups that advance diversity, including but not limited to military veterans, Allies, the student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (UMABJ) and the International Student Association.
  6. Students will be advised of and encouraged to participate in study abroad and other conferences, programs and events that widen perspectives.
  7. The school will continue to offer courses such as The Press and the South, Digital Media Diversity and others in the social justice specialization that center on diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

B. Metrics

  1. Annual reports will include selected syllabus statements affirming the school’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  2. Annual reports will contain synopses of faculty best practices and will be presented at a general faculty or other meeting by the committee chair at least once per year.
  3. Annual reports will summarize any Student Disabilities Services noncompliance reports received and explain the resolution.
  4. Annual reports will provide the relevant most recent graduate survey results. A report showing 85% or more of respondents “satisfied” (or better) to live and work in a diverse society will be considered successful.
  5. Annual reports will identify support provided to student groups.
  6. Annual reports will provide the best estimate of the number of students participating in study abroad or other activities that widen perspectives.
  7. Annual reports will list regularly scheduled or special topics courses related specifically to diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

“Research is an expression of faith in the possibility of progress. The drive that leads scholars to study a topic has to include the belief that new things can be discovered, that newer can be better, and that greater depth of understanding is achievable. Research, especially academic research, is a form of optimism about the human condition.” – Henry Rosovsky

Premise Five – Research and Scholarship

         Taken together, university faculty constitutes the world’s largest assemblage of people wholly dedicated to lifelong learning. Gathering facts, analyzing findings and sharing results is the recipe for awareness and/or knowledge creation and is an essential duty of tenured and tenure-track faculty and is encouraged for all full-time instructors.

A. Actions

  1. Faculty will be supported in selecting, attending and presenting at regional and national events and conferences related to improving education in diversity, equity and inclusion and afterward conversing with and sharing materials with their colleagues in the school.
  2. Faculty will be supported in selecting diversity, equity and inclusion in media or marketing in their research programs.
  3. Faculty will be encouraged to participate in collaborative research projects with diverse groups of colleagues in the School of Journalism and New Media or nationally.

 

B. Metrics

  1. Annual reports will identify faculty who attended or participated in meetings or conferences related to improving education in diversity, equity and inclusion.
  2. Annual reports will list individual or collaborative research (in progress or published) by faculty into issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” – Verna Myers

 

Premise Six – Outreach and Service

         Awareness that freedom of expression and the values associated with diversity, equity and inclusion are pathways toward a more just and fair society is, of itself, meaningless. It is only when this awareness is shared that benefits are kindled.

A. Actions

  1. The school will support faculty, staff and student membership in campus, regional and national organizations specifically dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion as well as attendance and participation in events held by the organizations.
  2. The school will create events or serve as a volunteer or named sponsor for events on campus or elsewhere that recognize and share the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  3. The school will support faculty research and other presentations on campus, regionally or nationally in which the gravamen centers on the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  4. Administrators will nominate a diverse group of faculty and staff to serve on university standing, search and ad hoc committees.
  5. When merited, administrators will nominate faculty and staff for awards and recognitions for their effectiveness in exemplifying and/or promoting the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

B. Metrics

  1. Annual reports will list school memberships in organizations specifically dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion as well as any leadership positions held in those organizations by faculty or staff.
  2. Annual reports will list and describe events created or sponsored by the school that recognize and share the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  3. Annual reports will list faculty research or other presentations related to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  4. Annual reports will summarize administrative appointments to campus service by gender/preference and by minority or nonminority.
  5. Annual reports will list any faculty and staff nominated for awards and recognitions for their effectiveness in exemplifying and/or promoting the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Area(s) Responsible: The dean of the School of Journalism and New Media and diversity liaison will take the lead in ensuring that our governance reflects our plan.

Resources Statement:  We have sufficient campus data from IREP and internal documents to assess and review our work.

[1] Bensimon, E.M., Dowd, A.C., Witham, K. (2016). Five principles for enacting equity by design. Diversity and Democracy, The Equity Imperative. Winter 2016, Volume 19, No. 1.