Southwestern University announced today its decision to become an inaugural member of the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA). Texas’s first university joins 51 other institutions from across the country in the alliance, launched this week by the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center. LACRELA provides participating institutions with a 12-month curriculum led by racial-equity experts; an online resource library of rubrics, readings, and case studies; guidance on designing action plans; and campus climate surveys for students, faculty, and staff. 

“As the number 1 liberal arts institution and first University in Texas, Southwestern equips our students with the skills required to adapt, create, collaborate, and view challenges from multiple perspectives. Our membership in LACRELA will bolster our ongoing commitment to diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism in our policies, practices, and pedagogy,” stated President Laura Skandera Trombley.

“This alliance is an incredible opportunity for Southwestern to build new and reinforce existing relationships with other colleges while learning from experts who share our commitment to racial equity,” continued Trombley. “I look forward to seeing the resources and information LACRELA will make available to our students, faculty, and staff.” 

The presidents of alliance member colleges will meet quarterly to share strategies, seek advice, and identify ways the alliance can have a collective impact on racial equity in higher education. In addition, the presidents will occasionally come together to discuss how to address urgent racial issues confronting the nation, what to say to their respective campus communities, and what unified messages they can communicate to policymakers, journalists, and other audiences.

Racial Equity eConvening Series

Beginning in January 2021, the Race and Equity Center will host virtual monthly “eConvenings,” live, synchronous professional learning experiences for members that address a particular aspect of racial equity. The three-hour sessions will focus primarily on strategies and practical approaches and will be delivered by highly respected leaders of national higher-education associations, tenured professors who study race relations and people of color, chief diversity officers, and other experienced administrators and specialists. 

Online Equity Resource Portal

Southwestern University will have access to an online repository of resources and tools the center is developing for alliance member colleges. This portal, which will launch in late spring 2021, will include downloadable equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, slide decks, and conversation scripts to which every employee across all levels at each alliance member college will have full access. 

Campus Climate Surveys

Southwestern University will also receive a trio of campus climate surveys on a three-year rotational basis: a student survey in year one, a faculty survey in year two, and a staff survey in year three. 

The center’s National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates has been administered to more than 500,000 students at colleges and universities in every geographic region of the U.S. The climate surveys measure feelings of belonging and inclusion, the frequency and depth of cross-racial interactions, appraisals of institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion, and other related topics.