Introducing “Toward Inclusive Excellence” (TIE)

I am excited to serve as the inaugural editor in chief of Toward Inclusive Excellence (TIE), a multimedia blog of Choice. TIE seeks to advance discourse regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, belonging, and social justice (DEIA for short) at this remarkable time in history. To this end, TIE will engage readers in a series of thought-provoking blog posts, interviews, webinars, opinion pieces, and podcasts on many DEIA topics.

Because TIE aims to intentionally construct new pathways within the broader DEIA discourse in higher education, our contributors and interviewees will include administrators at every level, faculty across the disciplines, researchers, students, and library, museum, and archival professionals. Together we will explore a range of topics to address DEIA through a pedagogical, scholarly, curatorial, and workplace/professional lens.

Our aspirational goal is to encourage colleagues within the academy to embrace the possibilities of inclusive excellence through research, practice, and programmatic initiatives. TIE operates under the framework that DEIA is central to the success of the academy. Therefore, we are most interested in highlighting examples that incorporate solutions-centered approaches to research, teaching, learning, and the academy as a workplace.

One might ask, why focus on DEIA in higher education, given the sector’s poor performance in key diversity-related metrics, such as the movement of students of color through the higher education pipeline, faculty and staff recruitment and retention, the low number of tenured faculty of color, and compensation disparities?

There are several reasons.

The recent racially centered unrest within the US that catalyzed the Black Lives Matter movement, along with scores of lifestyle and learning complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic, appears to have set into motion a chain reaction of responses from senior-level leaders within the academy. Within one year we have several new cabinet-level and college/departmental-level chief diversity officer appointments (a trend running parallel to CDO appointments within industry). This follows a four-year trend of more people of color and women rising to the ranks of presidents and provosts at predominantly white institutions. We are also seeing more academics and higher education administrators appearing on major US news networks and contributing to news publications as subject matter experts and cultural critics on diversity topics. These factors are among the reasons why the academy and its broad array of talent are ripe to be tapped to contribute to critical diversity discourse, treated as real-time coverage.

I am convinced that higher education is the sector best positioned to solve major issues for the benefit of humankind, with a good track record in doing so despite legitimate criticisms of its messiness. As supported and strengthened by the administrative infrastructure, academic and research pursuits have positively transformed lives and industries. We have the capacity to both pilot and produce solutions to advance diversity inside and outside of the academy. There are people undertaking significant programmatic initiatives and research, yet they are not receiving as much coverage as they deserve. Others are seeking help and successful concepts that will aid in transforming their respective organizations.

Committing to diversity work is never easy, nor is it a smooth path. Many of us have experienced emotional trauma and aggressive pushback at every level of the academy in our efforts to advance DEIA within our respective workplaces, or in our pursuits just for fair and equitable treatment as people of color. There are so many heartbreaking stories.

Yet, I lean on the promise of what the academy can be in relationship to DEIA. I hope that TIE will serve as a bridge-builder and as a proverbial lamp to light the way in how to approach diversity through the lens of opportunity, not merely as a problem to be solved. For those of you interested in this unique approach, you have found your community. We will illuminate inclusive excellence.


Alexia Hudson-Ward

Editor in Chief, Toward Inclusive Excellence (TIE)

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Interested in contributing to TIE? Send an email to Deb V. at Choice with your topic idea.

Header image is a detail of This is Harlem by Jacob Lawrence. Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. For more information, click here.