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Building an Inclusive Campus Culture

A community that welcomes everyone.

A Message From the President

American University is committed to ensuring that we are a community where people of all identities and experiences are understood, appreciated, and fully included.

Nearly 125 years ago, our founders endowed us with the core values of equality, diversity, justice, human rights, and public service — values that have shaped our mission and influenced our actions to this day. We are dedicated to retaining these principles as we respond to the needs of a changing world.

We foster a community where diverse perspectives are discussed and debated in an environment that values human dignity and respect, academic freedom, and freedom of expression. When we invite different perspectives and listen to others, we have the opportunity to consider new viewpoints and sharpen our own perspectives. We learn and thrive. I look forward to learning from all of you.

— Sylvia M. Burwell
President, American University

Crucial Conversations Series

Interfaith Chapel Service

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I Am Diveristy and Inclusion Series for Faculty and Staff

Creating Inclusive Communities

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Leadership Development Speaker Series

Courses offered to AU Staff through AsucessfulU

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President’s Council on Diversity & Inclusion(PCDI)

We look forward to hearing from you!

(PCDI) advises the president and reviews and makes recommendations regarding diversity and inclusion-related strategic plan goals, as well as AU policy and procedures.

We hope that this page is engaging and informative. It represents many hours of discussion, debate and work, yet it is neither complete nor perfect. If it does not represent you, or if it lacks important information, please let us know at

President's Charge February 29, 2016

To make lasting improvements in both the diversity and inclusiveness of our community, AU is committed to the following actions:

  • Establish a presidential council to oversee these plans, monitor institutional progress, recommend new objectives, and plan necessary resources
  • Introduce a mandatory course on diversity and inclusion for all first year and transfer students
  • Revise and elevate awareness of discrimination policies, channels for complaint, and avenues for support
  • Reallocate five tenure or tenure track positions to recruit diverse candidates to AU's faculty
  • Develop programs to cultivate inclusive classrooms, including an entry program for newly appointed tenure track faculty and dialogue sessions for current faculty

Charting Progress

  • A plan for diversifying and retaining diverse faculty - Target of Opportunity Program (TOP) - is developed by Mary Clark, Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice Provost and Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Dean of the School of Education
  • Human Resources examines every phase of staff hiring process with the goal of increasing diversity and inclusion
  • HR leaders meet with 60 staff members of color to identify changes the university could make to improve racial climate and establish a new staff and faculty people of color affinity group
  • PCDI provides input on the Undergraduate Campus Climate Survey to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment
  • Revisions to survey are made to gather more comprehensive data from current undergraduate students regarding diversity and inclusion on campus
  • Ibram X. Kendi, best-selling author and award-winning historian, is announced as the founding director of AU's new Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center
  • The Center will bring together teams of faculty and student researchers to conduct cutting-edge, intersectional, and interdisciplinary research of racial inequality and discrimination of a national and international scope
  • AU believes the Center will serve as a global leader for anti-racist research and policymaking
  • A new African-American and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) major launches within the College of Arts and Sciences
  • The program examines African American history and culture in the U.S. in the context of contemporary and historical African cultures, theories of racial ideology and race politics, and the distinctive artistic, literary, and cultural practices of African people worldwide
  • The program is offered by the Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Collaborative, a vibrant and inclusive community that explores diverse voices, histories, and experiences through socially-engaged scholarship
  • American University Experience (AUx), a set of two required transition courses, is rolled out to all first-year students in academic year 2018-2019
  • he first pilot of AUx1, which launched last year, had a retention rate of 98%
  • University-wide discussions on implementing additional courses related to diversity and inclusion into the AU Core begin

Pathways for Change

We are establishing an infrastructure to support, cultivate, and foster greater diversity and inclusion.

Reporting Bias

For complaints against:

Looking forward

To make a lasting impact, we must continue to uphold our core values.

Diversity on campus

AU aligns with the work of the Association of American Colleges & Universities in defining diversity and inclusion.

AU's population 1

Minority Freshmen
32 %
Undergraduates of color
31 %
Full-time faculty of color
18 %
  1. Data from 2016

Diversity is defined as individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations).

Inclusion is the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity in the curriculum, co-curriculum, and communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect.

Creating Change

I do see change, and I do feel it, because I’ve been part of it.

I think AU and campus groups are facilitating more avenues to talk about race and diversity. In my department, we teach 12 different languages and we live that diversity in a way that is so natural to us. Yet throughout the university, we need to have difficult conversations, and we won’t always have closure. I do see change, and I do feel it, because I’ve been part of it. Having lived in Latin America for 15 years and been exposed to different environments, I can say that this campus has been very welcoming. I do feel at home here.


CAS Professor Caleen Jennings

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Professor Caleen Jennings’s play “Queens Girl in Africa” leads the second Women’s Voices festival in Washington.

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FDDS scholars pose outside

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Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program Receives All-Inclusive Award

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Craig Stevens

Achievements ·

American University Senior Craig Stevens Named a 2018 Marshall Scholar

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On campus with people walking, trees, and an AU flag.


AU Announces New Tenure-Line Faculty Hires

Introducing teachers and researchers to the AU community.

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Chalkboard with equations

Department Spotlight

New Majors and Programs Debut Fall 2017

For fall 2017, AU students can take advantage of a diverse group of new undergrad and graduate majors, minors, and tracks within the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Initiatives Across Campus

Across our campus, community members are committed to cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture.

  • School & College Initiatives
  • Center for Diversity & Inclusion
  • Department Initiatives

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Student Activities

There are more than 200 student-led organizations that help students create connections and find support systems on campus.

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Alumni Association

AU offers a diverse range of affinity groups and networks that celebrate identity, industry, leisure, student activities, and student experience.

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