Inclusion at Paris College of Art

Dear Members of the PCA Community

This summer we acknowledged that, as an institution, we have not lived up to the promises we made to create a more inclusive climate at PCA, where each member feels welcome, respected and treated fairly inside and outside the classroom.

Since then, we have started the slow and patient work required to change a campus climate. It is a work in progress, that relies on the participation of all. It will necessarily lead to difficult discussions, hard realizations and some disagreements. To build towards a truly inclusive community is worth those efforts and more. Not only will we change our culture, we will also, as individuals, be stronger and better equipped to promote equity and equality in other spheres of our lives.

We have outlined below the steps that we are taking and an update on efforts to date. We will continue to provide updates at the end of each semester.

Linda Jarvin, President of PCA
and
Klaus Fruchtnis, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies

Professional Development and Training

Permanent staff members participated in a half-day training on diversity and inclusion facilitated by a professional trainer in September 2020. This initial training provided an opportunity to get all staff on the same page and provide us with some shared concepts and vocabulary.

We developed an on-line orientation module for PCA instructors, that included legal reminders about discrimination and harassment, as well as best practices for the classroom. The instructor orientation will be updated and offered before the start of each semester going forward.

Faculty and staff have been invited to monthly discussion groups around a reading or podcast related to inclusive teaching practices. The readings and related discussion questions are housed with the instructor orientation module, and these two elements form the beginning of what will be developed into a professional development section on the NEO portal that we use for on-line teaching.

Finally, we have allocated budgets for student training opportunities, which are administered and prioritized by the Diversity & Inclusion committee.

Working groups

During the summer we identified a number of priority areas and created working groups for each one of them. Each group has a designated coordinator. Some groups have a very specific goal and are destined to disband once the goal is achieved, others are focused on on-going concerns and are expected to become permanent, with a renewed membership. The working groups present their recommendations to the special advisor to the President on diversity and inclusion, Megan Tierney, who is also tasked with creating new working groups, as needed.

The initial working groups are tasked with

  • Identifying training opportunities for faculty, students and staff (coordinator: Emma Vissicchio). Initial trainings have taken place, as outlined above, and a library of resources is an on-going concern;
  • Revising the course evaluation process to include questions addressing institutional climate (coordinator: Alana Manga);
  • Actively promoting more diverse staff appointments and greater transparency in faculty hiring practices (coordinator: Linda Jarvin);
  • Developing a policy and procedure for addressing concerns  from students, faculty and staff (coordinator : Yoshiko Shimada). The policy will be finalized and published by the end of November and a Conflict Resolution Committee has been established to manage the process;
  • Seeking out a broader range of guests for PCA Talks, lunch talks, and juries (coordinator: Klaus Fruchtnis).

Management and allocation of fiscal resources

Megan Tierney has accepted the role as special advisor to the President on diversity and inclusion and oversees the progress of working groups, establishes new working groups as needed, and acts as a bridge between the President, the advisory group and the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. In consultation with the advisory group she will advise on the allocation of fiscal resources to training and other initiatives. Megan can be reached at inclusion@paris.edu.