Inclusive Excellence (IE) emerged in 2005 as an initiative of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Specifically, with funding from the Ford Foundation and under the leadership of Alma R. Clayton-Pedersen, PhD, Vice President for Education and Institutional Renewal, AAC&U commissioned a series of scholarly articles delineating the concept of Inclusive Excellence, presenting the latest research on diversity, and outlining conceptual models revolutionizing higher education's approach to preparing students for an increasingly diverse society and world.
What is Inclusive Excellence?
- Focuses on the structural cultural transformation of a university into a community that embeds diversity and inclusiveness throughout the institution (system), including (but not limited to) demographics, facilities, curriculum, policies, enrollment, pedagogies, financial resources, fund raising, leadership, trainings, clubs and organizations, events, retention, student learning, marketing, technology, student advising, athletics, campus climate, communications, administration, recruitment, retention, graduation, hiring, promotion and tenure, assessments, institutional advancement, and evaluations.
- Moves a university away from a simplistic definition of diversity and toward a more inclusive, comprehensive, and omnipresent notion of inclusiveness in which diversity includes (but is not limited to) culture, race, age, ethnicity or national origin, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, spiritual practices, political beliefs, mental and physical ability, socioeconomic status, individual life experiences, or other social identities;
- Melds inclusiveness and academic excellence into one concept (to be excellent, we must be inclusive);
- Shifts the responsibility for diversity and inclusiveness to everyone on campus regardless of their position or rank as opposed to one person, unit, or department shouldering the responsibility;
- Moves an institution away from conceptualizing diversity only in terms of a numerical goal of diverse constituents and broadens it to include changing the culture and climate to be as inclusive as possible of all students and in particular, students from marginalized communities who are rich in multicultural perspectives, experiences, worldviews, cultures, and other gifts and talent.
In conclusion, Inclusive Excellence is a framework for transforming Rocky Vista University into an institution that conceptualizes inclusiveness and excellence as one and the same, makes inclusiveness ubiquitous, assigns responsibility for inclusiveness to everyone on campus, and utilizes a broad definition of diversity. The IE model is accompanied by an implementation infrastructure, measurement initiatives, and an accountability/incentives system.