Lunch forum identifies new themes for Inclusion and Equity in GVSU’s Strategic Plan

McKenna Peariso

Grand Valley State University has continued to update its 2016-2021 Strategic Plan with an emphasis on Inclusion and Equity. Several of the themes listed under this section of the plan were identified during a lunch forum held this past March. 

Co-hosted by the Black Faculty and Association and the Latino/a Faculty and Association, the lunch forum was dedicated to discussing campus needs of underrepresented groups. 

The luncheon was an opportunity for association members and Inclusion and Equity staff to share and learn about the experiences of employees of color. Vice President for Inclusion and Equity, Jesse Bernal, said the lunch forum was used to “strengthen our efforts and move forward with recommendations and actions.” 

One of the university’s goals that was established following the forum was to create more inclusive hiring and advancement opportunities. Grand Valley’s 2016-2021 Strategic Plan notes the minimal progress that has been made in improving baseline diversity rates of combined faculty, staff and administrators. According to the GVPlan numbers, diversity at Grand Valley was 82 percent non-Hispanic white. This percentage shows little change from the 2016 percentage of 81.9.

Grand Valley has since created a task force to review inclusion and equity for hiring and promotion procedures. This inclusive hiring review task force is currently in the creation process and will be finalized this fall.

Another objective from Grand Valley’s strategic plan is to continue and improve communication related to overall campus climate and any actions taken by the university following campus discussions. Grand Valley’s Campus Climate site lists annual employee focus groups as a pending recommendation to improve communication efforts. Student focus groups have also been proposed for the 2018-19 school year in an effort to address a broader campus climate. 

An annual Inclusion and Equity forum is currently being established by Grand Valley which will provide updates to campus climate and the work being done to improve the goals outlined in the Strategic Plan. A customized myGVSU Climate Survey has been created for all academic colleges to continue to monitor campus climate. 

GVSU is also increasing inclusion and equity training, as stated in the Inclusion and Equity section of the Strategic Plan. According to the Campus Climate site, the President’s Cabinet hiring officials will be receiving training this summer on how to effectively use Affirmative Action data. Efforts to expand this training to other university staff requires further discussion according to the Campus Climate website.

A statement from Grand Valley State University regarding the Inclusiveness section of its 2016-2021 Strategic Plan: “Grand Valley is committed to strengthening our living, learning, and working environment by recognizing and removing the barriers to full participation and providing a safe, inclusive, vibrant community for all.”

More information about the efforts for Inclusion and Equity outlined in the 2016 to 2021 GVPlan can be found at