The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) is committed to fostering an inclusive environment among our alumni and friends and to supporting UW–Madison in efforts to create and sustain a positive campus climate. As part of that mission, we believe we should all be allies to staff, students, and alumni of color and actively work to make meaningful change to long-standing acts of racial injustice.
In response to a teachable moment last fall around UW Homecoming, when students created a video that lacked diversity, our staff has recommitted to improving diversity and inclusion and creating a more welcoming climate on campus and among our alumni. We know we have much more work to do, and we are currently developing a multiyear road map for our continued actions and goals. Following are the initial steps we have taken.
- WFAA implemented mandatory Civil Treatment Workplace training for all employees. Completing this training is a condition of employment.
- Student leaders and staff advisers of the Wisconsin Homecoming Committee and the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board (WASB) participated in unconscious bias and antiracism training from the Multicultural Student Center in spring 2020. Similar training will be a regular part of student onboarding and education.
- WFAA Communications, Marketing, and Alumni Relations & Engagement teams attended specialized diversity training sessions offered by the publishers of Madison365 in January 2020.
- WFAA Communications, Marketing, and Alumni Relations & Engagement teams attended cross-cultural communication training presented by Creative Marketing Resources and hosted by UW Marketing in collaboration with the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement and Student Affairs.
- The Wisconsin Alumni Association® is working closely with colleagues in the Department of Student Life to plan and deliver a new Homecoming experience for students.
- A student “Homecoming Delegation” was formed in spring 2020 and comprises six student leaders from the Student Inclusion Coalition, Center for First-Year Engagement, and current Wisconsin Homecoming Committee members.
- The Homecoming Delegation served as an interim executive committee and made preliminary recommendations for the fall activities, including virtual and physically distanced events, if conditions allow.
- More input from UW students will be gathered early in the fall semester.
- Beginning in 2021, sponsorship of the Wisconsin Homecoming Committee student organization will transition from the Wisconsin Alumni Association to Student Life.
- The Wisconsin Homecoming Committee’s positioning under a more central office on campus will make the committee more accessible and inclusive for all UW–Madison students to participate.
- The schedule of this transition is largely to accommodate thoughtful planning, staffing, and budgeting for future Wisconsin Homecoming Committee work.
- The recruitment and selection process for the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board (WASB), was thoroughly reviewed and multiple changes were made, including involving other student organizations in recruitment, revising the written application and interview questions, and instituting oversight from professional staff.
- In spring 2020, following fall recruitment, WASB implemented and achieved their goal to have the composition of the committee reflect the composition of the UW student body.
- WFAA has implemented a new review process for all communications being sent/published by WFAA-sponsored student organizations to ensure they reflect the diversity of the UW’s student population.
- The WFAA Human Resources Department reviewed and updated all job description language, removing degree requirements to be more inclusive of equivalent experience, and added a commitment to diversity statement to each job posting.
- WFAA has launched new strategic plans for diverse alumni engagement aiming to improve the alumni experience, and has created Inclusive Engagement Guidelines that are reviewed regularly by Advancement leadership. Progress on strategic plans will be announced in September 2020.