Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Inclusivity and equity are a mindset and a practice. When embraced, they will affect all aspects of the living-learning community at Jewell, and we are charting a course to do just that. Jewell is working to be a more welcoming, anti-racist campus and support equity and diversity of people, perspectives and values. We invite you to visit this page regularly to stay up to date as we develop plans of action to move the institution forward.

Jewell Launches Racial Reconciliation Commission


April 2021 Video Announcement

Jewell seeks to find a historical and moral truth about our racial history, from the slaveholding of the College’s founders and the influence of those founders on the early decades of the College to today. A report will be presented in the 2021-2022 academic year and will available to the public at the Black Archives of Mid-America Kansas City. Watch this video announcement, or read more below.

Investing in Change

Jewell is committing real resources to empower change in a meaningful way, including new positions, scholarships and programs to serve the campus community.

  • Dedicated Staff

    • With endorsement by the Jewell Board of Trustees, a search began in June 2020 for a new Vice President for Access and Engagement, and Dr. Rodney Smith joined our team in August. As a member of the Cabinet, he is responsible for developing and supporting highly visible events and programs designed to further Jewell's goals for recruitment, retention and outreach to communities of color; participating in the civic arena of the region to advance inclusivity; and supporting efforts to fundraise around the enrollment and retention of students of color and the hiring of faculty of color. Read more about Dr. Smith.
    • In March 2020, Jewell created a new position in Student Life, The Director of New Student, Family and Intercultural Engagement. Traci Parker-Gray transitioned from the office of admission to the new role and works with all first-year, transfer and nontraditional students and their families, leading programming around equity, inclusion and belongingness.
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  • Shape the Future Grant and Access Scholarships

    In the past several years, Jewell has raised several million dollars to support and endow need-based scholarships. In 2019, the College created the Shape the Future Grant specifically for students of color and underserved students. This award is designed to promote equity, remove financial barriers and help Jewell graduate students who reflect the diversity in society. The grant can be combined with other scholarships and grants. The fall 2020 class has 32 Shape the Future grant recipients. They represent 12 states, and 84% of recipients are non-white. Apply or learn more at www.jewell.edu/shape-the-future.

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  • Strategic Partnerships

    • To change the way we engage with and support people with diverse backgrounds and experiences, Jewell began a partnership in summer 2019 with Sophic Solutions. Expanding on the diversity and inclusion employee training and education provided at Jewell since 2003, Sophic Solutions has guided students, faculty and staff through diversity training, forums and workgroups in order to generate an action plan for the College.
    • In 2019, Jewell became the academic home for American Public Square. Through its programming, American Public Square at Jewell seeks to change the tone and quality of public discourse, offering a better understanding of divergent perspectives. The organization invites communities to have frank and open discussions on topical issues of national importance. These gatherings, which occur throughout the region and feature speakers of national and local acclaim, foster fact-based, civil discourse and are expressly nonpartisan. At least twice per year, American Public Square hosts nationally recognized politicians, speakers and public figures on our campus.

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  • Intercultural Development Inventory

    In 2018, the College introduced the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a tool that evaluates intercultural competence within individuals and organizations. All faculty and staff members completed the assessment and were invited to meet individually with Dr. Andrew Pratt, Special Counsel to the President for Diversity and Inclusion, to review their profile results and create a personalized development plan. Deploying the assessment again in 2020 will help us track our progress in achieving an adaptation mindset enabling deep cultural bridging across diverse communities.

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Taking Action

We are committed to ensuring that all aspects of William Jewell College—systems, curriculum, faculty and staff—are anti-racist. We need your help. We invite you to work alongside us and hold us accountable for the changes we must make.

  • Racial Reconciliation Commission

    In April 2021, Jewell announced the establishment of a Racial Reconciliation Commission to find and express both a historical and moral truth about the racial history of the institution.

    Initial research regarding the slaveholding of the College’s founders and the influence of those founders on the early decades of the College has been compiled by Dr. Andy Pratt, dean emeritus of the Chapel, and Dr. Chris Wilkins, associate professor of history, as well as by Dr. Wilkins’ students. This research is not only regarded as pivotal to the Jewell community, but will provide insights into regional history, serving as a bridge to critical conversations around race.

    Dr. Elizabeth MacLeod Walls, president, and Dr. Rodney Smith, vice president for access and engagement, have established a Racial Reconciliation Commission, with the aim of “guiding the communication of these findings to various audiences and to help shape Jewell’s next steps in an intentional way.”

    The Commission includes broad representation across campus groups and organizations throughout Kansas City. These Commission is tasked with asking difficult questions and identifying broad communications opportunities for 1) sharing the research findings and 2) recommending actionable items for Jewell.

    “William Jewell College has a deep passion for and commitment to the shared prosperity initiative throughout the Kansas City region, and our history is a critical piece of this conversation,” said Jewell President Dr. MacLeod Walls. “With the launch of purposeful, institution-wide inclusivity efforts more than two years ago,” she continued, “Jewell has made significant strides in welcoming diverse students and employees and in looking at all of our policies and practices—price and access in particular—through an equity lens.  We are eager to build upon this momentum with the launching of the Commission.” 

    The work of the Commission will include a report to the president with key findings and recommendations in the next academic year. The report will be published on this web page and will become a key part of the Jewell story moving forward.

    “The work of the Commission will explore Jewell’s racial history,” noted Dr. Rodney Smith. “The Commission will serve as the spear-heading body of this work, coming together to analyze the arc of time from William Jewell’s founding to today, and become the driving force in creating change for good. I’m encouraged by Jewell’s commitment to this research, and for asking critical questions and furthering conversations about race.”

    Jewell’s research will be preserved and made available to the public at the Black Archives of Mid-America Kansas City, ensuring ongoing opportunities for public education and dialogue.

    “We are pleased to support the efforts of William Jewell College and the Racial Reconciliation Commission,” said Dr. Carmaletta Williams, executive director of the Black Archives. “Their work is in alignment with the Archives’ mission to honor our community heritage and catalyze public awareness and will become an important part of our collection at the Archives.”

    Commission Membership

    • Dr. Rodney Smith, Commission Chair and Vice President for Access and Engagement
    • Dr. Donna Gardner, Chair of the Education Department
    • Brynesha Griffin-Bey, Student Representative
    • Moses Harper, Assistant Football Coach
    • Marcus Jones, Student and Treasurer of the Black Student Alliance
    • Dr. Anthony Maglione, Director of Choral Studies 
    • Chris McCabe, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
    • Mark Mathes, Distinguished Alumnus and Liberty Historian
    • Hayley Michael, Student Participant in “Slavery, Memory, and Justice” Course
    • Clark Morris, Vice President for Advancement
    • Hunter O’Connor, Student and Kappa Alpha Order Number One
    • Keith Pence, William Jewell College Trustee
    • Dr. Andy Pratt, Dean Emeritus of the Chapel
    • Eileen Houston-Stewart, William Jewell Trustee Emerita and Alumna                    
    • Dr. Vernon Howard, Distinguished Alumnus and President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City   
    • Dr. Cecelia Robinson, Professor Emerita and Historian of Clay County African American Legacy, Inc.

    Advisors to the Commission

    • Vincent Paul Gauthier — Kansas City Community Advisor
    • Dr. David Sallee, President Emeritus of William Jewell College — Liberty Community Advisor
    • Dr. Chris Wilkins — Faculty Expert Advisor on Slavery, Memory, and Justice
    • Dr. Carmaletta Williams and The Black Archives of Mid-America Kansas City — Research Advisor
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  • Action Plans

    Each department, as well as students, created a chart of work in 2019-2020 with measurable outcomes for addressing diversity and inclusion. In summer 2020, the Jewell community held its annual inclusivity workshop and will outline more goals and finalize a plan of action to be shared on this page.

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  • Increasing Diversity on Campus

    Jewell is committed to creating a community that more accurately reflects the rich diversity in the world, including diversity of ideas, values and perspectives. We have significant work to do and are not letting up.

    • Since 2000, we’ve seen incremental increases in our non-White enrollment. In 2001, BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) enrollment was 6%; in 2010 it was 13.6%. In 2020, we reached 26.7%, compared to 20.7% for fall 2019 total enrollment. The 2020 incoming class is 36% non-white.
    • Jewell's faculty and staff is currently 18% racially and ethnically diverse. Faculty diversity specifically was established as a strategic priority several years ago with an increased focus on recruiting practices. Among the strategies is endowing a fellowship program to attract and retain more racially and ethnically diverse post-doctoral professors.
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    • Workgroups

      • Since 2016, Jewell has empowered Diversity and Inclusion Workgroups comprised of students, faculty and staff to identify opportunities and issues, and then enact plans. Some resulting initiatives have included campus-wide workshops and professional development, a best practices study of hiring protocols to attract non-White employee candidates, and a comprehensive student-readiness program for new students that begins in July 2020.
      • The Climate Assessment and Response Team (CART) launched in spring 2019 to serve as a steering committee for supporting a safe, inclusive and welcoming climate at Jewell. The team of students, faculty and staff assesses and responds to concerns arising from harassing or inflammatory incidents that create an unwelcoming campus environment.
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    • Student and Alumni Voices

      • Student Senate and Jewell started an open forum/listening series in late 2016, and those have continued in summer 2020 to listen to students’ thoughts about racism, diversity and equity.
      • Jewell created an Alumni Advisory Board for Radical Inclusivity that began meeting in fall 2020. The team is helping the College give shape to Radical Inclusivity, to foster meaningful change on our campus and to counsel the president, cabinet members, faculty and staff on this vital journey. The Advisory Committee might also become a network of support for our students of color, hosting forums and events designed to give voice to the experiences of black and brown students at Jewell.
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    • Curriculum

      Beginning in the fall 2017 semester, all students take Identity & Society (CTI 150), a seven-week course within the Critical Thought and Inquiry core curriculum. Led by an interdisciplinary team of faculty, the course engages students in a seminar-style format to think about how they have formed their own identity, how they can connect to and understand people whose lived experiences are different from their own, and how to keep respectful dialogue going especially in tough subjects around diversity and justice. CTI 150 delves into racism and privilege, and includes units on gender and sexuality, immigration and/or socioeconomic class.

      Students are required to take two more courses that can be in the core curriculum, their majors or electives. All the courses are certified by a faculty team, and many had extensive revisions. One course focuses on diversity and inclusion in the U.S. and another on diversity and inclusion globally. Some of the other courses that meet the graduation requirement include U.S. Pluralism, Intercultural Communication, World War Two, U.S.-Latinx Experience, Philosophy of Sex & Gender, Philosophy of Race, Social Psychology, Music in the Non-Western Traditions, Civil Rights & Liberties and Democracy American-Style.

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    • Equity in Admission

      Jewell committed in summer 2019 to eliminate standardized tests as an admission requirement for all students. This begins with the fall 2021 class. Since 2013, Jewell has offered a test-optional process; however, the level of burden for supporting materials became a barrier to students completing their application, especially among students of color. Completely eliminating test scores from our application process will help increase equity and eliminate a barrier that’s kept so many students from experiencing a transformational education. Beginning in July 2020, Jewell is eliminating the tuition deposit of $200, and the $100 housing security and damage deposit can be waived for any student who demonstrates high financial need. This change eliminates prioritizing enrollment and housing assignments for incoming students based on their ability to pay ahead.

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