About the Division of Inclusion and Equity


GVSU is transformed as a national model for equity, inclusion, and social justice through pioneering, innovative and dynamic leadership by the Division of Inclusion and Equity and its shared efforts.


Through collaboration, consultation, and leadership with students, faculty, staff, administrators and community partners, the Division of Inclusion and Equity advances GVSU’s social justice framework for equity and inclusion.  The division coordinates sustainable and strategic institutional efforts to engage all members of the community while also intentionally supporting and advocating for historically underrepresented communities. The division’s work furthers the university's liberal education and student-centered mission.

Core Values

A social justice and intersectional framework guides the strategic efforts of the division.  This framework acknowledges systems of oppression and marginalization and aspects of power and privilege and seeks to educate and empower all members of the community to work toward equity.  This framework also acknowledges the university’s place within systemic and institutionalized challenges for equity and inclusion, but affirms our commitment and responsibility to strive for transformation. The division is guided by this framework to seek a deeper understanding of complex intersecting social identities which highlights the centrality of understanding the full dimensions of identities and how these they dynamically interact with one another.  As such, our work and education is grounded in teaching about and addressing interdependent systems of oppression and marginalization.

The division’s value for equity supports the university’s “institutional commitment to acting with integrity, communicating openly and honestly, operating transparently and accepting responsibility for our words and actions” (University Compliance Office) and commitment to identify and eliminate barriers to recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty, and staff.  The division seeks to set high standards of professional ethics and consistency in principles, expectations, and actions.  The division supports the university’s compliance with extensive and ever-changing applicable federal and state laws and regulations regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action as well as university policy.  The division also ensures GVSU’s commitment to equal opportunity for all persons and works to eliminate and prevent discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, citizenship, color, familial or marital status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information (including family medical history), height, national origin, political affiliation, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, participation in the uniformed services, veteran status, or weight in admissions, access, and treatment in educational, athletic, social, cultural, or other university programs and activities and employment. Equitable practices and policies are designed to accommodate differences in the contexts of learning and working, particularly in light of historical factors of disadvantage and marginalization. While taking seriously the university’s legal obligations, we also understand that if we look at this approach as merely a compliance issue we will never achieve our greater goals within our community.  By creating a community that fosters diversity, rather than requires it, we hope to create a place where obligations are met organically rather than through federal mandate.  As such, the division accepts a beyond-compliance model that recognizes compliance as a minimum standard for equity and inclusion and strives to set a new bar for excellence and advocacy in these areas.

The division furthers the university’s commitment to student success by supporting diverse and underrepresented student engagement and development as well as the recruitment, development, and retention of reflective, student-centered faculty and staff who are prepared to meet the needs of our diverse students.  It shapes educational practice and policies that encourage high levels of learning and personal development for marginalized and underrepresented students, student persistence, and student satisfaction.  The division partners with faculty, staff, and the community to educate all students about power and privilege and works collaboratively to empower students from diverse communities, and engages students in critical dialogue and programming related to campus climate and social justice.

Understanding that equity and inclusion must be embedded across the university to effect institutional change, the division accomplishes its mission in part by establishing partnerships within the university and across our external communities.  As such, effective equity and inclusion strategies are derived only through efforts that support shared understanding and shared accountability.  In these efforts, the division prioritizes collaboration with academic and administrative units across campus, and furthers the university’s commitment to shared governance through ongoing education, engagement, and consultation with students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Effective, authentic and genuine collaboration is modeled within the division.

GVSU’s success in advancing equity and inclusion is due, in part, to the long-standing diversity champions within West Michigan’s diverse communities.  GVSU strives to be as much a part of the community as it hopes the community is a part of it.  It’s with this deep understanding that the division is committed to creating reciprocal and mutually beneficial external partnerships particularly with historically underserved communities.

The division seeks to advance the university’s culture of assessment and data-driven decision-making and is committed to implementing and innovating evidence-based practices that are supported by measurable outcomes that drive institutional actions and further the university’s strategic planning priorities.  Diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice are not just rhetoric within the division, nor at GVSU.  Enacting equity requires a continual process of learning, disaggregating data, and questioning assumptions about relevance and effectiveness.  We are committed to measuring and demonstrating institutional change through assessment and reporting and maintaining a high level of transparency and accountability.

Framework for Equity and Inclusion at GVSU and Division Strategic Plan

The Framework for Inclusion and Equity at GVSU articulates the university’s understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It sets the stage for the next phase of our commitment to advance diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. Grand Valley believes that equity and inclusion makes each member of our community better and is fundamental to what it means to be a Laker.

While the entire university plays a part in these efforts, the Division of Inclusion and Equity takes a leadership role in advancing this Framework for Equity and Inclusion. The Strategic Plan for the Division of Inclusion and Equity identifies six strategic functions that will guide our work over the next several years. In addition, it outlines six major actions and priorities for the upcoming academic year (2015-2016).

Both of these documents are open for comment and feedback. To read more about the Framework and Strategic Plan, view the full documents, and provide your valued input, click here.

As adopted by the Board of Trustees, Grand Valley State University is committed to inclusion and equity, and strives to establish a climate that welcomes and affirms the contributions of all students and employees. The University is guided by values for inclusiveness and community which are integral to our mission to educate students to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies, and to enrich the community through excellent teaching, active scholarship, and public service. The University strives to provide all members of its community an inclusive environment and equitable opportunities for success.

The University is also committed to maintaining a climate conducive to an educational, living, and employment environment that is free from unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination, as well as those defined by this policy. All members of the community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others. It is neither the purpose nor intent of this policy to infringe on the First Amendment or academic freedom as defined by the University.

The University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution, consistent with its obligations as a federal contractor. It encourages diversity and provides equal opportunity in education, employment, all of its programs, and the use of its facilities. It is committed to protecting the constitutional and statutory civil rights of persons connected with the University.

Members of the University community, including students, employees, faculty, staff, administrators, Board members, consultants, vendors, others engaged to do business with the University, candidates for employment or admissions, and visitors or guests have the right to be free from acts of harassment and discrimination, including sexual misconduct, as defined by this policy. In accordance with applicable federal and state law and this policy, acts of discrimination or harassment by members of the campus community are prohibited if they discriminate or harass on the basis of age, color, disability, familial status, height, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex/gender (including gender identity and expression), sexual orientation, veteran or active duty military status or weight. This includes inappropriate limitation of, access to, or participation in educational, employment, athletic, social, cultural, or other university programs and activities. The University will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. Limitations are lawful if they are: directly related to a legitimate university purpose, required by law, or lawfully required by a grant or contract between the university and the state or federal government. For the purposes of this policy, sex-/gender-based harassment includes sexual misconduct, sexual assault, interpersonal or relationship violence, and stalking.