social justice

A year of progress on diversity, equity and inclusion

In an academic year with heightened awareness of racial justice issues, Bellarmine University made measurable progress on the equity and inclusion commitment that is a major pillar of the university’s strategic plan, “Tradition and Transformation.” 
The strategic plan calls for the university to “demonstrate a fully realized and lived commitment to equity and inclusion, empowering all members of its increasingly diverse community and supporting them to achieve their full potential.” 
Last year, 20% of Bellarmine’s student population was made up of underrepresented minorities, a term that includes students who report an ethnicity or race other than white. 
Last summer, Dr. Donald “DJ” Mitchell, Jr., began serving as the university’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer while continuing his faculty appointment as professor of education and chair of Bellarmine's Master's in Higher Education Leadership and Social Justice program. 
“This was a year where our campus community could have been satisfied with the status quo given the pandemic, but I’m glad we decided we would continue to strengthen our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives to ensure that we emerged stronger,” said Mitchell. “Surely, we have much more work to do, but the foundation we are laying provides an incredible blueprint for us to fully operationalize our social justice mission.”
In addition to advising Bellarmine’s president, Dr. Susan M. Donovan, and serving as a member of her cabinet, Mitchell works with campus entities to strengthen cultural competency to ensure students are being prepared to enter a diverse global society. 
Mitchell summarized major accomplishments from the recently completed academic year in a recent report that contained these highlights: 
Around Campus 
  • The university finalized a new affirmative action plan last fall, with new trainings and resources under development to support that plan’s implementation. 
  • A campus accessibility audit took place in the spring semester, focusing on climate, physical space and technology. Recommendations are forthcoming. The audit’s goal is to create a campus culture that centers accessibility. Bellarmine’s Student Government Association funded the audit and set aside funds to support its implementation.  
  • Mitchell conducted training and professional development workshops for offices including Athletics; Enrollment, Marketing and Communication; Public Safety and the W. Fielding Rubel School of Business. 
  • The university launched an internal grant program to support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives from faculty, staff and students. The initiatives can be specific to Bellarmine or serve the Louisville community. The Student Government Association provided partial funding. 
In the Classroom 
  • A new guest lecture program allows faculty members to request guest lectures on topics of diversity, equity and inclusion. Fourteen such lectures took place in the spring semester. 
In the Community 
  • Bellarmine is creating new community partnerships with organizations such as the Louisville Urban League and Nativity Academy, focused on education, health, wellness and financial empowerment.
Mitchell’s office maintains a website that offers diversity, equity and inclusion resources for faculty, staff and students. His work is supported by an Advisory Board on Equity and Inclusion whose members are appointed by the university’s president, Dr. Susan M. Donovan. 

Tags: social justice

About Bellarmine University

Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.