Carnegie Mellon University

Inclusive Excellence

A Community Responsibility

written by
Valeria J. Martinez

A goal is a dream with an action plan behind it. In 1996, the goal for researchers Lee and Smith was to identify ways to increase educational achievement. In their study, they measured three constructs of educators’ work: collective responsibility for student learning, staff cooperation and control over work conditions. The results demonstrated achievement gains were significantly higher in schools where teachers took collective responsibility for students’ academic success (and failure), where there was more staff cooperation and where there was more social equity for learning.

Over the years, these trends have shifted beyond the academic experience. Organizations engage in corporate responsibility models. Communities have neighborhood watches. Politicians have larger teams of advisers, etc. Although different, they all have one thing in common: It takes a community to achieve a goal.

The College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University shares the goal of educational excellence, recognizing that educational excellence is not possible without inclusion.

“In the past year, my office — in conjunction with the CFA Dean’s Office — has led change among our students, faculty and staff,” said Valeria J. Martinez, CFA’s assistant dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “We have reframed the DEI committees at each school; the college has instituted a DEI council that includes the chairs of those respective committees, as well as members from across the college, including the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Miller Institute for Contemporary Art and the BXA Intercollege Degree Programs; and, we have implemented new policies and practices to foster agency for those addressing bias-related incidents.”

Additionally, the CFA Office for the Assistant Dean for DEI has offered college-wide programming, including inaugural leadership development retreats for staff and faculty across the college. At the same time, each school is diversifying its curriculum to better engage students.

“These initiatives promote the development of each member of our college with the intention to strengthen our community responsibility toward inclusive excellence,” Martinez said.

“We have a responsibility to each other and ourselves if we are to experience a safer, more inclusive and equitable educational environment where excellence thrives. This is transformative work — it will take time; it will take action; it will take every one of us; and it will be worth it.”

Valeria J. Martinez
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, College of Fine Arts