Modern Strategic Planning: Exemplars and Emerging Themes, Installment Three: Committing to DEIB in a Continuing Climate of Challenge

In our previous research analyzing 108 current strategic plans across higher education in 2020, we evaluated plans from private and public four-year institutions from all 50 states. Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) was a major emphasis across all plans, but especially in the 16 most-strategic plans.

As we circled back to check in on institutions we featured during phase one of our research, we learned that in some cases progress continued to great positive effect, while in other cases progress became more of a challenge.

In addition, we examined how DEIB featured in a set of 54 higher education strategic plans that launched in 2022 and 2023, including language some recent plans use to talk about the kinds of student outcomes institutions seek without directly referencing DEIB.

We frame this discussion by laying out current legislative and judicial challenges to DEIB efforts and describing how the Chicago Principles and heterodoxy shape how some leaders define what words like “diversity” and “inclusion” mean for their strategic goals.

We close the installment with questions designed to help readers gauge which DEIB approaches will best fit their institutional contexts and select language and actions that align with institutional strategic goals.

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Aimee Hosemann

Aimee is the Director of Qualitative Research at RHB.

Rob Zinkan

Rob is the Vice President for Marketing Leadership at RHB.