The following pages illuminate the process of developing the Community Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.

The Need and Opportunity

Carleton’s lack of a strategic, long-range inclusion, diversity, and equity plan has for too long created barriers to success and belonging for many members of our community. Despite the calls of countless individuals and groups (including the Carls Talk Back petition) throughout Carleton’s history, it was the events of the summer of 2020 and the resulting demands for change that ultimately pushed the college to address long-standing concerns about inclusion and equity in how we learn, teach, and work. Like most communities, Carleton was shocked and outraged by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in late May 2020. However, the college’s response to this event was viewed by many as ineffective and unsupportive. The response was also seen as indicative of shortcomings in the institution’s overall holistic approach to creating a welcoming environment for nonmajority members of the campus community.

The immediate impetus for this IDE plan was a series of demands made by the Ujamaa Collective, along with letters from alumni, during the early summer of 2020. It was painfully clear that despite the efforts of many dedicated individuals and initiatives throughout the college’s history, many members of our community continue to face barriers to academic, personal, and professional success and belonging. The college chose, therefore, to address those ongoing concerns with a 10-year plan that would move the college forward in an intentional and measurable way in its efforts to provide a learning, living, and working environment where everyone in our community belongs and thrives. We are grateful for all of the voices who spoke out courageously with a clear call to action not only during the summer of 2020, but throughout Carleton’s history.

With the approval of Carleton’s Board of Trustees in October of 2020, then-President Steve Poskanzer formed a committee that was charged with developing a 10-year Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (IDE) plan over the course of the next calendar year.

The Charge to the Committee

The IDE Plan Steering Committee (“the Committee”) was charged with helping Carleton plan for the achievement of its aspiration of being a truly supportive and inclusive learning and work environment for every student, faculty member, and staff member.

Committee members were asked to focus their efforts on four key areas:

  1. The student academic experience
  2. The student learning/living environment outside of the classroom
  3. The experience of working at Carleton (this includes both student work and staff/faculty workplace issues)
  4. The best institutional structures and organizational models through which to achieve IDE goals

The Committee’s charge was to identify action steps, including prioritized short-term and long-term reforms, as well as appropriate metrics whereby outcomes could be measured, analyzed, and tracked by the college’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. The development of the IDE plan also needed to include a robust process to hear the views and voices of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends across the college community for the purpose of informing and guiding the development of IDE goals.

A final aspect to note: the Committee’s charge included a “special focus on Black experiences.” We recognize, of course, that Black experiences at Carleton are not monolithic for any student, staff, faculty, or alum, and are emblematic of the experiences of other historically marginalized groups on our campus. The aspiration, therefore, was to use the lens of Black experiences to create a plan that addressed the needs of all community members. This means other committees, groups, or initiatives can work on other areas, and we anticipate that the strategies we propose in the plan will benefit all members of our community, no matter their backgrounds, identities, or affinities.

The Process

The Committee had its first meeting on November 5, 2020, and set about the immediate task of identifying and vetting potential consultants to help the Committee design its study, develop goals, and engage in research and outreach for the overall planning process. The effort was intentionally planned to continue into the fall of 2021, so that Carleton’s 12th president, Alison Byerly, would have a meaningful opportunity to put her own stamp on the plan.

The Committee’s first order of business was to hire a consultant who is skilled at helping organizations achieve inclusion, diversity, and equity. We believe our learning, evaluations, deliberations, and eventual choices will benefit from a fresh, external assessment that comes from outside the college. We chose Cambridge Hill Partners (CHP) in early 2021 and signaled the beginning of the intensive information-gathering phase that lasted through spring 2021.

In addition to choosing CHP as the consulting group to help guide the planning process, the Committee looked at IDE plans from several other institutions and read a variety of scholarly articles on the topic of institutional inclusion and equity efforts. The Committee also held information-gathering conversations with people in higher education who have facilitated similar processes.

People who shared their expertise and experiences included:

  • Lisa Scott, Luther College
  • Anita Davis, Trinity College
  • Cheryl Chatman, Concordia University
  • Crystal Williams, Boston University
  • Jennifer Ward, Luther College
  • Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran, Kalamazoo College
  • Tanya Odom, global consultant, writer, coach, and diversity, inclusion, equity, and civil rights thought leader

On March 1, 2021, the Committee sent a questionnaire to all Carleton alumni and staff regarding priorities for the college as it moves forward with its work on inclusion and equity. Students and faculty received the same questionnaire at the start of spring term. At the same time, 29 focus groups of alumni, staff, students, and faculty were formed and interviewed by CHP:

  • Faculty: including groups specifically for faculty who identify as women, Black, LGBTQIA+, Indigenous, international, and POC
  • Staff: including groups specifically for staff who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, women, exempt, nonexempt, and union
  • Alumni: including groups for those one to five years past graduation, five to twelve years past graduation, BIPOC, and alumni leaders
  • Students: (by class year) including first-generation, DACA, Indigenous, Black, Asian, Latinx, multiracial, international, LGBTQIA+, politically conservative, peer leaders, and students with disabilities

In addition to the survey and focus groups, the Committee drew upon data from many other sources. Carleton’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (IRA) worked with CHP to analyze other college-generated climate surveys, reports, and data that are relevant to inclusion, diversity, and equity, as well as comparable data from other national liberal arts colleges.

The overall objective of this phase was to obtain a clear picture of the current landscape for strengths and weaknesses of campus climate with regard to inclusion, diversity, and equity. This assessment and report was completed by CHP by the end of May. In June CHP presented a report on key data points via open Zoom meetings for faculty, staff, and alumni; recorded sessions were made available for students. Feedback was then collected from constituents about the information shared during those sessions. Presentations of the major data themes were made available on the Carleton IDE website in June of 2021.

The Committee spent the summer of 2021 crafting a vision statement along with a set of goals and objectives to accomplish the vision for an inclusive and welcoming campus for all. These goals and objectives attempted to capture the current state of IDE on our campus and the areas that are most in need of focused attention and action based on the data collected and analyzed in the winter and spring of 2021 described above. We should note that in May 2021 Carleton students participated in the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climate, a survey of student experiences specifically related to racial equity and sense of belonging on campus. This was part of Carleton’s participation in the recently formed Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA). Carleton received its data from this study over the summer, and its findings confirmed most of the findings from the previously collected data described above and informed subsequent discussions and deliberations.

The arrival of President Byerly prompted a reconsideration of the timing and pacing of the planning process. President Byerly deemed it prudent for the college to provide more time for the development of the final plan, specifically to allow additional opportunities for community deliberation and feedback. The initial IDE plan completion date of December 2021 was therefore amended to March 2022. In concert with this adjustment, in September 2021 the Committee shared with the Carleton community a foundational draft of the plan, which outlined the plan’s overarching vision, goals, and objectives. This first draft provided a framework for the next step in the process.

Five working groups were recruited in fall 2021 (one for each goal of the plan) and charged with developing the strategies the Carleton community would utilize to bring the plan to life. The working groups included faculty, staff, students, and alumni representatives new to the IDE plan development process, as well as members of the Committee. In consultation with various community members and campus stakeholders, the working groups spent fall 2021 and early winter 2022 evaluating the plan’s goals and objectives to draft actionable strategies for each one. The resulting draft of the plan was shared with the larger Carleton community in February 2022. The Committee collected feedback to the plan from community members throughout February via an online comment form, a series of formal Town Hall sessions, and informal conversations. This feedback is available in town hall recordings and the feedback summary is posted online.

Statement of Principles and Desired Outcomes

The Committee affirms the following principles and desired outcomes in the creation of the college’s first 10-year IDE plan for a campus where we all can thrive personally, academically, and professionally as individuals and as a community.

The Committee believes a diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution:

  • Has no hierarchy of human identity, background, or life circumstance and acknowledges the harm that the historical and ongoing belief in such a hierarchy has caused and continues to cause.
  • Nurtures and draws strength from the talents, life experiences, and perspectives of all its members and affirms that diversity, equity, and inclusion are not zero-sum processes resulting in winners and losers.
  • Ensures that all community members receive fair access to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive in their learning, work, and research.
  • Addresses the tensions that may arise between the claims of individual freedom and community expectations with transparency, respect, good-faith dialogue, and deliberation.
  • Actively and openly reflects on its processes, practices, governance, and activities — including its interactions with people beyond the institution — to ensure that they are animated by the above principles and can be modified as needed.

We recognize that we are not where we want to be as a college in all of these areas. Indeed, our research has identified the many places where we are falling short of our aspirations, and we hope the plan will begin to address the disparities we have documented. The process is such, however, that it will not be “done” when specific goals are achieved. Rather, our community is on a journey to live up to the above-stated principles, and that is an ever-evolving process that will require a culture that brings those principles to the center of all of its considerations and actions.

Definitions & Acronyms


For clarity’s sake, we offer the following definitions:

Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group feels welcomed, respected, supported, and valued. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.

Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another, including identity markers such as age, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability/ability status, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, physical appearance, diversity of thought, political perspective, culture, and more.

Furthermore, we acknowledge that individuals embody many different characteristics that make their identities intersectional. So, while we are focused on racial equity in this first IDE plan, we understand that all community members bring their full humanity to our campus, and that comprises overlapping and intersecting experiences, perspectives, and affinities that make us the individuals we are. Our aim, however, is to address the institutional experience of Carleton and to ensure that we remove to the greatest extent possible any barriers that produce a differential outcome and opportunity to thrive in our campus community based on a person’s identity, background, or perspectives. We believe that diversity gives our community strength, especially in combination with equity and inclusion.

Equity is the fair treatment, access, and opportunity for advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources.

We recognize and value inclusion, diversity, and equity along all of these different dimensions. This, then, is a plan for the whole Carleton community, since the entire community benefits from welcoming and nurturing the talents, life experiences, and perspectives of all its members. At this time in our country and, indeed, our world, issues of inequity and social justice are being contested in many realms. The Committee’s charge included a focus on racial equity, and that has driven many of the goals and action steps we are proposing. We acknowledge that different members will have different experiences and priorities, but we believe that this first IDE plan will put Carleton on the path toward our larger vision for an inclusive and equitable campus for everyone.

Acronyms Used in the Plan

  • ACSL: Advisory Committee on Student Life
  • AFAC: Admissions and Financial Aid Committee
  • Alumni Leadership Groups: Alumni Council, Alumni Annual Fund Board, Multicultural Alumni Network, Careers Board, Out After Carleton
  • BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, People of Color
  • Board of Trustees: The governing board for the college
  • CCF: Community Concern Form, form for submitting concerns on campus by students, faculty, and staff
  • CDO: Chief Diversity Officer
  • CEDI: Community, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion campus committee
  • CHP: Cambridge Hill Partners, consultants advising the IDE Committee
  • COFHE: Consortium on Funding Higher Education
  • College Council: Campus committee—the council’s mission is to develop policies in areas having to do with matters other than educational policy or curriculum
  • CSA: Carleton Student Association, student government
  • CUBE: Carleton Undergraduate Bridge Experience
  • ECC: Education and Curriculum Committee
  • Equity Audit: Equity audits are a tool used to collect the data that informs the process of removing programmatic barriers that impede full participation, access, and opportunity for all community members
  • FAC: Faculty Affairs Committee
  • FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid
  • FCPC: Faculty Curricular Planning Committee
  • FOCUS: A curriculum-based cohort program for students interested in science and math who come from groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields
  • Forum: Exempt staff committee
  • FPC: Faculty Personnel Committee
  • FTE: Full Time Equivalent
  • GSC: Gender and Sexuality Center
  • HBCU: Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • HERI: Higher Education Research Institute
  • HR: Human Resources
  • IDE: Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity
  • IDI: Intercultural Development Inventory
  • IRA: Institutional Research and Assessment
  • ISL: Office of International Student Life
  • KPI: Key Performance Indicator
  • LAB: Leadership Advisory Board, presidential advisory board composed of administrative department heads
  • LACRELA: Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance
  • LGBTQIA+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and Other Identities
  • LTC: Learning and Teaching Center
  • MSI: Minority-Serving Institution
  • NSW: New Student Week
  • NURM: Non-Underrepresented Minority
  • OAR: Office of Accessibility Resources
  • OCS: Off-Campus Studies
  • OIL: Office of Intercultural Life
  • Ombuds: Ombuds assists employees by listening objectively to concerns related to working at Carleton College
  • POC: Person of Color
  • Posse: Public high school students who have extraordinary academic and leadership potential and who may have been overlooked by the traditional college selection process
  • Provost: The person overseeing the college’s academic mission and programs
  • Questbridge: A national nonprofit that connects the nation’s most exceptional, low-income youth with leading colleges and opportunities
  • SAC: Staff at Carleton, nonexempt staff committee
  • SHAC: Student Health and Counseling
  • TRIO: Federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Tuesday Group (now known as President’s Cabinet): President’s senior leadership team (vice presidents plus faculty president)
  • Ujamaa Collective: Black student organization that connects the overall Black community at Carleton
  • URM: Underrepresented Minority is defined as a U.S. citizen who identifies as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, or American Indian. All other Race/Ethnicity categories or Non–U.S. citizens are considered as a Non–Underrepresented Minority (Non–URM)


Developing the IDE plan has been a long process and has drawn upon the experiences and expertise of many community members. So, we wish to start by thanking every individual who took the time to attend a session, participate in a focus group, or offer their input online. We have been overwhelmed by the interest, energy, and thoughtfulness of our staff, students, faculty, and alumni throughout the process, and it gives us confidence that this IDE plan will find the support it needs to be successful.

The Committee would like to thank the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who volunteered their time and effort on the five working groups this past fall and winter. In a time of pandemic-enhanced Zoom fatigue, their persistence and commitment to developing viable strategies for the plan is deeply appreciated.

We were fortunate to have the consulting services of Cambridge Hill Partners, and we are grateful for their guidance and expertise in developing and executing the planning process. Special thanks are also due to the outstanding work of our Office of Institutional Research and Assessment in supporting our needs for data and analysis.

The Committee would like to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for the incredible and exemplary support provided by Kristin Lucas: manus recta, rectior mens.

Finally, this plan would not have been possible without the unwavering support and vision of two Carleton presidents and the Board of Trustees. We thank them for allowing our work to go forward with full and unencumbered access to the resources that we needed to complete the work with which we were charged.

IDE Committee


  • Jenine McGee ’85, Trustee
  • Chico Zimmerman, Professor of Classics


  • Sally Bell Pierce (SAC), Administrative Assistant to Director of the Arts and Theater and Dance
  • Thomas Bonner, Vice President for External Relations
  • Jessica Brooks ’09, Multicultural Alumni Network Board Chair (October 2020–July 2021)
  • Jennifer Lopez ’02, Multicultural Alumni Network Board Chair
  • Art Rodriguez ’96, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
  • Maya Rogers ’22, Student
  • Trey Williams (Forum), Associate Dean of Students
  • Cherlon Ussery, Associate Professor of Linguistics (October 2020–September 2021)
  • Alison von Klemperer ’82, P ’16, Trustee

Overhead view of six students sitting outside

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