Kentucky Policy for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Adopted by CPE: September 23, 2016
Adopted by CEO: May 16, 2016
The Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), as currently constituted and through its prior iterations, has a rich history of promoting diversity and inclusion at Kentucky’s public postsecondary institutions. In 1982, the Council on Higher Education (CHE) developed The Commonwealth of Kentucky Higher Education Desegregation Plan in response to a U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) finding that “the Commonwealth of Kentucky, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has failed to eliminate the vestiges of its former de jure racially dual system of public higher education.”
For the next 25 plus years, CHE and CPE focused the Desegregation Plan and its subsequent revisions on increasing the enrollment and success of African-American students, increasing the number of African- American employees on campus, and enhancing Kentucky State University, with later versions also focusing on improving campus climate. To provide oversight on plan implementation and ensure that diversity initiatives were a priority on Kentucky’s public college and university campuses, the CPE created the Committee on Equal Opportunities (CEO).
In December of 2008, the OCR released Kentucky from the remedial planning process, but CPE sought to continue its diversity efforts and initiatives. CPE has a statutorily mandated responsibility in the area of diversity and equal opportunities through KRS 164.020(19) which requires that CPE postpone the approval of any new academic program at a state postsecondary educational institution if the institution has not met the equal educational opportunity goals established by CPE. As such, the CPE directed the CEO, in collaboration with the public institutions, to develop a process that would help to ensure that the significant progress made in promoting diversity was preserved and further enhanced throughout public postsecondary education.
In order to continue to meet its statutory obligation and further its commitment to diversity and inclusion, the CEO and CPE revised its administrative regulation 13 KAR 2:060, which sets forth the new academic degree program approval process and institutional equal opportunity goals. Incorporated by reference into that regulation was the first Kentucky Public Postsecondary Education Diversity Policy and Framework for Institution Diversity Plan Development, adopted by the CEO and CPE in August and September of 2010, respectively. Under this policy, CPE set forth a very broad definition of diversity, and institutions were required to create diversity plans that addressed, at a minimum, four areas: (1) student body diversity that mirrors the diversity of the Commonwealth or the institution’s service area, (2) the closing of achievement gaps, (3) workforce diversity, and (4) campus climate. The duration of the policy was five (5) years with review commencing during the fifth year.
In this new iteration of the Policy, CPE seeks to build on the strong foundation cultivated over the past 30 years and further integrate the new degree program approval process and the statewide diversity policy into one seamless framework, upon which equal educational opportunity goals can be set; strategies to obtain those goals can be developed, adopted, and implemented; and institutional progress can be evaluated. In addition, CPE continues to affirm diversity as a core value in its statewide strategic planning process. As such, this Policy and CPE’s Strategic Agenda are completely aligned, with common metrics, strategies, and appropriate references and acknowledgments.
Policy for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
This statewide policy is grounded on the premise that to truly prepare students for life and work in an increasingly diverse society, the public postsecondary institutions within the Commonwealth shall develop a plan to embrace diversity and equity within constitutional and legal parameters, commit to improving academic achievement for all students, create an inclusive campus environment, and produce culturally competent graduates for the workforce.