President Jim Clements has directed the formation of a task force designed to accelerate the University’s inclusion and equity journey, advancing its mission of creating a climate of inclusive excellence.

Bob Jones faces the camera smiling, wearing a suit with Clemson paw pin on right lapel

Provost Bob Jones

In the coming months, the task force will track ideas and recommendations from across various campus stakeholders, group ideas as integral initiatives of a broader framework and present findings to the Clemson University Council for Diversity and Inclusion (CUCDI). Representing the entire University, CUCDI will review items within the framework, develop prioritized action plans and present the overarching strategy to the Executive Leadership Team (ELT).

The strategy looks to build upon important foundational work previously completed. In April 2017, Executive Vice President and Provost Bob Jones and Chief Diversity Officer Lee Gill started CUCDI to ensure students, faculty, staff and community members can share, address and resolve issues facing the University.

“While we’ve made great strides in the University’s efforts toward inclusive excellence, we remain steadfastly committed to a progressive journey,” said Jones.

Gill said the task force will be a conduit focusing the ability of a number of people at Clemson who have been working towards inclusive excellence but are scattered across divisions and colleges. One focus of the task force will to centralize the process and steer the project.

Lee gill stands on next to the columns of Sikes Hall, wearing a dapper grey suit

Chief Diversity Officer Lee Gill

“Last week, President Clements took another step toward building the inclusive Clemson community we all desire, and that step is to utilize the help of leaders within the Division of Inclusion and Equity,” said Gill. “We have the expertise, campus and community-wide relationships and, most importantly, our collective knowledge gained from our work-life experiences.”

Gill said the CUCDI is structured to have representatives from all campus entities so everyone can have a voice as the initiative moves forward. The CUCDI is steered by six affinity-focused commissions at Clemson: the Accessibility Commission, the Commission on the Black Experience, the Commission on Latino Affairs, the LGBTQ Commission, the Veterans Commission and the Commission on Women.

The 30-member council is comprised of faculty, staff, students and area community leaders, representatives from all seven colleges, the library, Finance and Operations, PSA, Development and Student Affairs, community leaders from the Pickens County NAACP, the president of the Urban League of the Upstate and the president of Hispanic Alliance. Gill said the guidance and insight from members of the community help shape the narrative for inclusive excellence at Clemson. President Jim Clements and Chief of Staff Max Allen are ex officio members of the council.

Moving the University forward on its inclusive excellence journey will take a team effort, said Jones. The task force will divide the project into phases – information gathering, analysis, prioritizing action items, etc. Each person assigned will be used as a subject matter expert during a project phase. The intent is to spread the workload, engage the entire team and to have a transparent process through reporting back to the University.

“This amazing group has been working to ensure long-term impacts, the sustainability of change and the unity of effort,” said Gill. “We are grateful for the team’s dedication to make Clemson a better place and look forward to taking the next steps under their direction.”