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Diversity and Workplace Climate report — AY17-18

October 30, 2018

Over the past year, the committee has worked to address specifics laid out in the CNS Dean’s charge for each CNS unit-level advisory committee on Workplace Climate. Briefly, the Dean’s charge requested addressing the following:

  • Assess current practices for creating an inclusive workplace climate for faculty, staff, graduate students and postdocs (e.g. effective communication within and among groups, recognition of exemplary performance, social events to promote informal interactions between and among groups, identifying best practices for promoting cross-cultural awareness and inclusive learning environments, identifying policies/procedures to address implicit bias in the work-place).
  • Assess visibility of unit’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

Areas for Improvement

Committee members identified areas that need work both in CAFE and within the larger university culture. Some of these are:

  • One overarching organization with various programs and sources of funding.
  • Teams tend to work in silos. Little incentive to work together.
  • Some animosity experienced between researchers and staff due to emphasis on research at Umass.
  • Our associations with the public currently include relationships with oldest growers’ association in the country (wealthy, land owning white men).
  • Need to address economic diversity within the university.
  • The time it takes to hire new people at the university adversely affects minorities.


Improved effective communication within and among the various CAFE groups:

  • “News from the Third Floor” blog feature was implemented on our website to inform CAFE faculty and staff of timely updates from the Director or one of the admin team members.
  • An Ice Cream social was held this summer, which provided a wonderful informal venue to gather and meet fellow colleagues and get to know each other better. Our plan is to host some of these events at one of our off-campus offices or farms to encourage attendance from faculty and staff who work at one of our off-campus locations.
  • We continue to put out our Faculty and Staff Newsletter throughout the year to keep everyone up-to-date on the happenings within CAFE.

Recognition of exemplary work by CAFE faculty and staff:

  • Creation of CAFE awards for recognition of excellence of work in three categories: Innovator, Unsung Hero, Ol’ Faithful.
  • We continue to add featured stories to the CAFE website on a regular basis to highlight the wonderful work of our Extension faculty and staff.
  • We continue to add Faculty and Staff Snapshots to the website to help people get to know the different folks that make up CAFE and the work that they do.
  • A section within the Faculty and Staff section of the CAFE website was created to provide links to resources on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as state our goal and commitment toward advancing a climate of inclusivity on our campus and within CAFE.

Training around diversity and inclusion:

  • Our group has identified resources and opportunities both within the university and at the national level that can provide us with valuable tools and help us to gain a better understanding of how to discuss and promote a climate of equity and inclusion. Those resources and opportunities will be posted on our website.
  • Three people from CAFE (Michael DiPasquale, LARP; River Strong, Clean Energy Program; Eileen Vazquez, Nutrition Program) were given the opportunity to attend a week-long Train the Trainer - Coming Together for Racial Understanding Train-the-Trainer Workshop this past August in Washington D.C. Two goals have been identified from the workshop as priority to focus on over the next year:
    • Build capacity to facilitate dialogues within the state Extension system
    • Build capacity to facilitate dialogue within at least one community