Siena strives to embody the vision and values of St. Francis of Assisi, including his commitment to building a more just, peaceful, and humane world. We must recommit to strengthening the bonds of racial justice to fulfill that mission and ensure people of color in our community feel safe, accepted, appreciated and affirmed. This effort starts with education and conversation. It requires action. The College has established 11 action lines and will provide the most recent updates on each below. Previous actions can be found here.
Diverse School Group Visits - This year from May 2022 - May 2023, Admissions hosted 18 high school groups from diverse schools. Their visit included an admissions information session followed by a tour of campus. Some schools utilized the cafeteria for lunch following their tour!
Outreach to diverse students - All admitted, diverse students received an email from George Christian congratulating them on their acceptance and asking if they had any hesitations regarding Siena. The emails sole focus is to understand the student, their needs and help get the information they need in order to make a decision. This email was sent to 2,173 students. This email has an open rate of 69%.
When a student responded to the email, George and Katie provided a personal response addressing the student's hesitations. We were able to connect them with key people within the Siena community and for many worked with them in scheduling a visit.
Increase visits to campus by diverse inquiries by 13.18% Increased visits to campus by diverse admitted students by 10.9%
The Percentage of freshman class from diverse backgrounds increased from 26.9% as of May 4 last year to 28.8% as of May 4 this year, a 6.8% increase year over year.
The Strategic Enrollment Management Committee gathered information about actions being taken across campus to improve retention and experience among diverse student populations and discussed those findings. The committee identified gaps where they could efforts could improve the student experience and retention, specifically:
● Review of practices that negatively impact DEI including recruitment and retention policies, procedures, resources, and financial support. The Student Success and Retention group had made excellent progress on this during the 2022-23 academic year.
● Recognize that campus culture and climate needs renewal to achieve Siena's DEI responsibilities
● Strengthen diverse students' sense of belonging by enhancing the efforts of several areas across campus without being redundant or presenting unintended obstacles to other areas' work.
The committee also received an extensive report and a set of recommendations that the Student Retention Committee will implement beginning fall of 2022 and will develop and recommend actions in our work during 23-24.
As reported last year, a faculty task force proposed a plan to revise the faculty hiring process to obtain diverse candidates. The plan addresses each stage of the hiring process from advertisement through acceptance of offers of employment. A faculty member, Dr. Jennifer Dorsey, is revising our faculty hiring guide to infuse DEI recommendations throughout the process. Work on that is well underway and will be ready to guide faculty searches starting in the fall of 2023.
Dr. Dorsey will also design a proposed Advisory Committee to work with search committees throughout the process. If we are able to secure additional financial resources for a position to coordinate this, we will do so next year.
The recruitment of diverse staff has been hampered by the fact that the College’s ability to hire any staff has been significantly impeded due to the recruiting environment in general (all employers are struggling to find good hires) and our compensation structure for non-faculty employees is below market. That said we have made good progress in regards to administrative/staff hiring. For the period of 11/1/21 – 10/31/22, 23%, or 21 out of the 94 of the administrative/staff new hires were diverse.
In an effort to identify opportunities to enhance its overall diversity efforts the College engaged Jackson Lewis P.C. to perform a diversity analytics study. This study focused on the diversity of the applicant pool and the conversion of the applicants to diverse hires. It was an analytical review of what is actually happening at the College, with regard to applications and hires and was based on data gathered from the Interview Exchange portal, which is utilized for all candidates.
The results of the study will be used to develop recommendations for next steps. Jackson Lewis, considers this study to be confidential and privileged. Therefore, we are working with them at this time to determine the best way to communicate the results and recommendations.
Education and Training - Faculty
The ¼ time position of Faculty Development Coordinator was created and Dr. Marcela Garcés is serving in that role. She is implementing recommendations made by a faculty task force focusing on professional development for faculty on DEI instructional issues, such as pedagogy curriculum, inclusive teaching practices, and recruitment of diverse students. She has reviewed programming in recent years to assess what we have been doing. She has created and started meeting with an Advisory Committee with representatives from involved areas to assist in identifying gaps and suggesting new programming. The scope of the subsequent coordinating work will depend on whether additional resources are obtained to expand the time commitment of the coordinator.
Education and Training - Administration
This spring, the executive committee of the Council of Administrators considered several options for the College’s 2023 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion day of practice open to all staff and administrators. Ultimately, the committee booked A Long Talk for an on-campus workshop on Thursday, October 12.
A Long Talk About The Uncomfortable Truth is an anti-racism activation experience facilitated by creator Kyle Williams. Before the workshop, community members will be asked to review a multimedia collection of content, provided by Williams, reflecting the truth about the history of racism in the United States and its lasting and pervasive impact. On October 12, Williams will be on campus to lead a two-hour session in the morning and a second two-hour session in the afternoon. The sessions are reflective conversations where participants are asked to listen, view, and respond in real time.
The first three workshops organized by the Council of Administrators in response to President Gibson’s charge to provide education for staff and administrators focused on understanding privilege and implicit bias, and ultimately the power of allyship and inclusive leadership. Posttraining assessments revealed that the community was interested in learning actionable anti- racism strategies via future workshops. The executive committee believes A Long Talk, through its three learning targets, will accomplish this.
Learning Target #1 – Unpacking Your Truth I will be able to make connections between our shared American history and our current reality.
Learning Target #2 – Finding Your Voice I will be able to use the CPR Protocol to challenge racist comments and beliefs.
Learning Target #3 – Activating Your Activism I will understand the reality that creating a counter culture of anti-racism can only happen through collective, consistent and courageous acts of identifying and interrupting racism.
The specific session times for the October 12 workshop will be determined this summer and then communicated with all staff and administrators. Education and Training provided for staff/admin. In response to President Gibson’s charge:
January 21, 2021 – Mat Grimes (facilitator) over Zoom
October 14, 2021 – Mat Grimes (facilitator) over Zoom
August 31, 2022 – Laura Quiros (facilitator) on campus
Pending: October 12, 2023 – A Long Talk, Kyle Williams (facilitator) on campus
Criminal Justice Studies Major
The Criminal Justice Studies program was approved by NYS Education Department and students are declaring it. To date there are 43 declared majors, we have hired one new faculty member and are recruiting for a second one. Interest on the part of incoming first year students is high; of incoming first-year students about 30 have expressed interest in CJS.
To date, eight departments have received small grants to develop curriculum and recruit and support diverse students in their majors. Two departments have completed their projects; several are just finishing them now, and two that were awarded in Fall 2022 (Physics and Healthcare professions) are planning for implementation in Fall 2023.
Faculty from the departments that received grants earlier gave presentations on their projects in a panel in October, as many of the projects can be duplicated in other disciplines. The new Core Curriculum Director, Dr. Darren Lim, is working on implementing a review of the Franciscan Concern categories to develop a process to assure they meet the intended learning outcomes. A full assessment of outcomes in the Diversity category will be done next year.
Standish Library Director Vicki Parsons engaged a consultant to do a DEI inventory of library resources and the Library is systematically expanding resources in areas where needed to provide library resources to fully support student access to contemporary material on DEI issues.
The Student Retention and Success Committee has made comprehensive recommendations on how to assure that students in all diversity categories are retained and graduate at the same rate.
Damietta Cross-Cultural Center
The following is a list of major programming orchestrated through the Damietta Center in Spring 2023.
First Monday Meetings - Damietta + Affinity Club Officers (2/6, 3/6, 4/3): - Light Lunch - $203.94 Attendees: 8; Monthly Check-in between Damietta Director and Affinity Club Officers.
Ms. Bettie Mae Fikes - Black History Month Keynote (2/8) - $7,758.03
Attendees: 160; Gospel Singer and Civil Rights Advocate shares insights and inspiration through storytelling and song
Café Damietta and Active Minds (2/22) - Paesan's Pizza - $88.96
Attendees: 18; student-led dialogue on how to foster mental health and welcoming spaces on campus
Association of Franciscan Colleges & Universities (AFCU) Conference (3/9) - Registration - June 2023 - $25
Damietta Staff Bonding Event - Kingpin Lanes Bowling (3/12) - $167.42 Attendees: 8; staff bonding with student leaders
Café Damietta: Music Exploration (3/22) - $73.30
Attendees: 24; student-led gathering for listening and conversation regarding culturally diverse music: Hip Hop, Caribbean, African, Latin
Expozé - Multicultural Talent Show (4/1) - Program Insert - $23.98
Attendees: 231; showcase of dance, spoken word, singing and other talents from our students of diverse backgrounds and allies
Black Student Union purchased decorations and programs: $500 Asian Student Association purchased AVI Catering: $1,579.46
ACE Women's Network Conference: Leading with Compassion Virtual Conference - Registration -
ALANA & Lavender Celebration of Achievement - (5/7) - Programs, Gifts, Balloons, Flowers, Hotel Keynote Speaker - $465.92
Attendees: 50 graduates; a pre-commencement commemoration to celebrate the achievements of graduating students who identify as and support ALANA and LGBTQ+ students.
Business Affairs purchased AVI Catering: $1,164.57
Contributions to Campus Partner Events:
Wrap Around the World with Sam Kim Lecture (2/6) - Diversity Action Committee - $500 Comedy for Peace (2/2) - Student Activities & Leadership Development, SEB Coffeehouse - $235 NASCE T-shirts (3/7) - Center for Academic Community Engagement - $300
DataFest (3/24) - Dr. Kursad Tosun - School of Science - $250
Work In-Progress: A Global Worldview in the Art Studio with Dr. Scott Foster Lecture (4/3) - AVI Catering - Education Department - $100
MLK Lecture Series - Tim Tyson (4/26) - Academic Affairs - $1000
Top Achievements/ Moments for the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center
Damietta Center Open House (9/16):
- Inaugural Open House with catering for students to experience the Damietta Center Lounge.
- Goal = yearly event
Women of Color in Media Panel (11/14):
- Three dynamic professionals share successes and challenges relating to race and gender
- Partnership between Damietta Center and Academic Affairs
- George Camacho (Damietta Center) and Sam Hesler (Academic Affairs) leveraged previous professional relationships to secure top-tier talent in the media industry for this event at a minimal cost.
First Monday Meetings - Damietta + Affinity Club Officers (2/6, 3/6, 4/3):
- Monthly Check-in between Damietta Director and Affinity Club Officers.
- Goal = foster effective working relationships within Damietta network and beyond
Ms. Bettie Mae Fikes - Black History Month Keynote (2/8)
- Gospel Singer and Civil Rights Advocate shares insights and inspiration through storytelling and song
- Dynamic presentation with a living legend
Supporting Our Vision
In April, the Cohoes Savings Foundation awarded Siena College $10,000 to fund a current scholarship for non-traditional students. A non-traditional student is defined as a student who is over the age of 22 in their first term of undergraduate study with a combination of the following characteristics; have a full- time job, have children, single parent, financially independent of their parents, military Veterans and/or professionals in professions where credentialing and requirements to maintain credentials have changed and now require a four-year bachelor degree. This scholarship will provide approximately 3-5 scholarships to non-traditional students of financial need as determined by Siena College’s Office of Financial Aid for the 2023-2024 academic year.
On May 3rd, a grant application was submitted to Boeing for a Women in Leadership Initiative ($40,000). The grant requested funding for a variety of programs to help empower female students to become leaders in their chosen professions. The proposal includes a Women in Business Scholarship for a freshman female who enrolls in the School of Business where female student are underrepresented. In the fall of 2022, women only represented 35% of the total students in the School of Business. This follows a national trend of declining graduation rates of females with undergraduate business degrees. The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics reported in 2019 that women earning bachelor’s degrees in business has started to decline. Between 2002 and 2004, women receiving bachelor’s degrees in business peaked over the 50% mark. However, the percentage of women earning business degrees has gradually declined since to 46.7% in 2019 which is the lowest since 1987. The Boeing Women in Leadership Initiative proposal also includes funding for a speaker series to bring one to two high profile women who are top leaders in their field (business, government, STEM, etc.) for the 2023-2024 academic year as well as funding for women lead teams that enter the Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Spark Tank competition. Both of these components are to help inspire women to leadership and entrepreneurship careers. Women continually remain underrepresented in C-Suite positions in corporate America. In 2022, only 27% of C-Suite positions in the United States were held by women and only 6.4% of women run a S&P Company (Catalyst, 2022).
On May 26th, a Letter of Intent will be submitted to the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation (MCHF) to develop the healthcare worker/nursing pipeline ($320,000). Included in this proposal is a K-12 healthcare workforce recruitment program which focuses on schools in underserved populations. This is a request to support a program spearheaded by Admissions that will increase college access and equity for underrepresented students, as well as strengthen the funnel of future healthcare workers. The goal is to break down information and communication barriers to ensure that every student has the opportunity to pursue higher education and a healthcare career. Our enrollment team has used its resources for years on initiatives to increase access to higher education, but require additional funding to scale these programs and make a greater impact. The program begins in elementary school with a storybook featuring Baloo and in person/hands on presentations talking about the different careers/jobs in healthcare, continues to middle school which begins to introduce the skills required for a career in healthcare and then to high school to assist in college application preparation. This program is aimed primarily at schools in underserved communities where there is not a strong guidance counseling and/or career preparation infrastructure. The MHCF LOI also includes funding for nursing scholarships for students from underserved populations.