SUNY Announces Comprehensive 25-Point Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan to Close the Racial Equity Gaps, and Eliminate Cultural and Institutional Racial Discrimination Across SUNY

February 25, 2021

Chancellor Malatras Initiated a Process in September 2020 to Develop Plan Directly From Recommendations from Students, Faculty and Staff Across all Campuses

Board of Trustees Immediately Approve the Action Plan's Recommendation Creating a Board-Level Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Phase One Action Plan Online Here and the Resolution Creating the New Board Committee Here


Albany, NY
– During today’s State University of New York Board of Trustees meeting, Chancellor Jim Malatras announced SUNY’s 25-point Action Plan to close racial equity gaps, and eliminate cultural and institutional racial discrimination across SUNY campuses. During the meeting, the Board of Trustees also approved one of the key recommendations from the new Action Plan—creating a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Board of Trustees to provide policy direction, which will be led by co-chairs Trustees Marcos A. Crespo and Camille Joseph Varlack.

Chancellor Malatras announced the start of the process in September 2020 and charged a comprehensive assessment of racial equity gaps be completed and recommendations be provided by winter 2021. Chancellor Malatras appointed SUNY's Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer, Teresa Miller, to be the lead on overseeing the process. The plan was developed in collaboration with a broad cross section of stakeholders including SUNY Board Vice Chairman Cesar Perales, Trustees Marcos A. Crespo, Eunice A. Lewin, Stanley S. Litow, and Camille Joseph Varlack; SUNY leadership; faculty; student organizations; and experts within the SUNY Empire Shirley Chisholm Center for Equity Studies and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. Members of the SUNY community were invited to provide feedback and recommendations as well.

"The unfortunate fact is that racism and discrimination still exists within the academy and it has been put into sharper focus as the result of recent troubling events of racial, ethnic, gender, and religious injustices across the country. We must use the moment to shatter the deep and pervasive discrimination that still exists by taking real and meaningful steps now," said Chancellor Malatras. "The comprehensive SUNY Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan is the culmination of tireless work over the past few months to bring social justice and equity to the forefront, and it includes candid feedback from our students, faculty, and staff across our system. One report won’t solve the problem; but as Shirley Chisholm said ‘you don’t make progress standing on the sidelines.’ Conversations and conviction must manifest themselves into the steely resolve of action. Today, at SUNY, we begin to act to make SUNY the most equitable and inclusive system of higher education in the nation."

SUNY Chairman Merryl H. Tisch and Vice Chairman Cesar Perales said, "Six months ago, the SUNY Board of Trustees appointed Chancellor Malatras to lead SUNY and tackle the many issues that face all our campuses and today he and his team delivered a 25-point Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan that is the culmination of transparency, hard work, and leadership to close racial equity gaps and eliminate discrimination across all SUNY campuses. We are confident the achievable recommendations, which embraces the direct feedback from our campuses, will soon be implemented and make a difference in the lives of our students, faculty, and all within our campus communities. Our collective goal at every level of SUNY remains steadfast to provide the highest quality education, and being present and nimble to fix what’s broken if any issues arise, no matter how challenging, that threatens the learning environment of our students. We will continue to approach these issues with the highest urgency, resources, and the full commitment of all of SUNY."

SUNY Trustee Crespo said, "Today’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan represents a commitment to continue this important work, which will begin today, and I am honored to co-chair the Board’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee with Trustee Varlack. We as an institution have a deep responsibility to identify, respond to, and enact true reforms that deliver on real and meaningful change to close the racial inequities and eliminate discrimination wherever they exist. We’re taking a historic step in creating a platform for these issues within our system, and in facing these challenges head on we are setting ourselves apart and leading the way on decisions that will change the course of inclusion in higher education."

SUNY Trustee Varlack said, "We are at an incredible moment in our nation’s history—the civil rights movement is not a thing of the past, and it continues as we search for equality for all. As an immigrant, a Black woman, and a former SUNY student, I'm incredibly proud to be part of SUNY's history and now our future as co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee with Trustee Crespo. My time as a student at the University at Buffalo exposed me to an incredibly diverse world—it is my wish that every student at a SUNY institution benefits from a high-quality education and campus culture wherein they benefit from diversity at every level."

"In formulating this Action Plan, we assessed persistent gaps in outcomes for SUNY students in several areas, including enrollment, graduation and retention rates, and measures of campus climate, in addition to faculty and staff equity gaps," said SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer Miller. "This is the kind of data-intensive and critical introspection that is called for if SUNY is to be at the forefront of combatting discrimination, and leveling the playing field for all who study or work on SUNY campuses. We will improve the experiences of our students, faculty, and staff through greater diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we will get started immediately. And, while we all collectively have a role to play, my task, and that of our campus leadership, in particular, is ensuring transparency and accountability as we pursue the recommendations in this plan. My thanks to Chancellor Malatras and my fellow senior leaders at SUNY for their support and their commitment."

The 25-point action plan is designed to create a more inclusive, representative SUNY, and to achieve equity in student success outcomes. It includes:

Close Student Academic Equity Gaps
  • Strengthen and expand Opportunity Programs
  • Expand Re-Enroll to Complete programs to close persistent equity gaps
  • Develop a robust policy to expand college credit for life and work experience
  • Expand successful programs to support and recognize Indigenous learning across SUNY System
Create a More Inclusive Culture at SUNY
  • Develop a model diversity training program for campuses
  • Conduct a SUNY-Wide biennial climate survey
  • Review and enhance SUNY’s mission statement to expressly support diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Expand programs dedicated to the social-emotional and academic development of students of color
  • Expand clubs and other formal student organizations for students of color
  • Create a system-wide research institute on racial equity that focuses on African American studies
  • Create a permanent process to address diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Board of Trustees level
Embed Racial Equity into Curriculum and Toward Racial Equity
  • Incorporate diversity in General Education requirements
  • Update criminal justice curriculum
  • Develop a process to share best practices or best in class in embedding racial equity into curriculum
Strengthen Institutional Role of the Chief Diversity Officer on Every Campus
  • Conduct a System-wide audit of the impact and effectiveness of the Chief Diversity Officer role on every campus
  • Update policy to ensure that CDOs report directly to presidents at every campus
  • Ensure CDOs have sufficient resources to carry out their roles and responsibilities
  • Require that any hiring or change in employment status of a CDO be reported to the System Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Increase Diversity of Faculty and Staff at SUNY
  • Expand the PRODiG program to better serve SUNY’s community colleges
  • Establish a Black Leadership Academy
  • Forge partnerships between Educational Opportunity Centers and University Police Departments to recruit campus police officers in communities of color
  • Form a partnership with New York State Department of Civil Service to remove barriers to applicants to law enforcement positions
  • Create a public safety micro-credential to create education and workforce opportunities in law enforcement for students of color
  • Increase diversity within all candidate pools for non-faculty campus hiring
  • Expand campus participation in New York Higher Education Recruitment Consortia (HERCs)

For the full SUNY Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Phase One Action Plan, please click here.

Since Chancellor Malatras was appointed at the end of August, he has placed a priority on expanding SUNY’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. At the September Board meeting, in one of his first actions, he announced that SUNY would convene stakeholders from across the system and develop a systemwide action plan. He followed up at the October 30, 2020 Board of Trustees meeting, with his goals for the diversity, equity, and inclusion action plan.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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