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Diversity and Workplace Climate report — AY18 - 19


October 30, 2019

In this past year, our committee has met two times.  The greatest challenge for us in meeting is that members of our committee come from across the state, and have schedules that follow seasonal and scholastic calendars, rather than 9-5 workweek type calendars.  However, members of our committee did meet an additional two times to conduct listening sessions, based on the training that three of our members received when they attended the Coming Together for Racial Understanding Workshop. 

Last year we identified two goals for training around diversity and inclusion. 

    • Build capacity to facilitate dialogues within the state Extension system
    • Build capacity to facilitate dialogue within at least one community

We have addressed those goals through the following efforts:

  • A listening session was held with the Ag Team in July.  Michael and River facilitated the session, and a group of 8 professionals and educators attended.  The listening session was an exercise in engaging in discussion to learn about the differences in experiences that shape each person’s story and how they define themselves. 
  • A listening session was held in Springfield in September at the Make-it Space in Springfield.  Extension educators from the 4-H and Nutrition Education offices in Springfield attended.  We engaged in two different exercises in that 3 hour workshop and evaluations were overwhelmingly positive.


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.
  • 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).
  • The time it takes to hire new people at the university adversely affects minorities, as does the sometimes narrow definitions of qualifications needed to qualify for a position.
  • Diversity needs to be about more than just gender and race. Economic status, level of education, age and physical appearance are all subject to biases.


Improved interaction within and among the various CAFE groups:

  • Our Ice Cream Social was held again this year. It provides a wonderful informal venue to gather and meet fellow colleagues and get to know each other better. Attendance was even better this year than last year. 
  • In winter this year, we were made aware of a grant being offered by the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy.  We applied for and received the grant, and are using the funds to hold a full day workshop to which we have invited extension professionals from all over Massachusetts and from neighboring states.  This workshop is scheduled for December 2, 2019. 
  • 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.