Rutgers logo
University Equity and Inclusion
Winants Hall

University Equity Audit Frequently Asked Questions


Review the questions and answers below to understand the objectives of the University Equity Audit and learn about next steps. 

Accordion Content

  • The equity audit was a mechanism to institutionally embrace diversity as a core value. We have demonstrated institutional maturity by grappling with where we are in order to identify our shortcomings as well as our opportunities for growth. It contained three components: 1) a central administration self-study, 2) a university leadership perceptions survey, and 3) an equity scorecard.

  • Rutgers is in the midst of profound change; it is at a pivotal point, which we can use to define our priorities, move forward, and grow. To seize this strategic opportunity, we needed to ascertain where our current practices matched or deviated from our aspirations of inclusive excellence. Being truly excellent requires us to recognize that there is no single embodiment of excellence, but it is up to us to recognize and reward it in all of its forms. Well-informed and inclusive leaders know it can be found in historically unexpected places. The purpose of this exercise was not to say “look at how great we are,” but instead “look at how great we can be, if…we embrace diversity as a core institutional value.” We recognize that moving Rutgers forward will require us to collectively capitalize on the “if’s,” for these are our opportunities to achieve our shared vision of excellence.

  • Diversity refers to the variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, age, religion, language, disability status, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geographic region, and more.       

    Equity refers to actively working to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented full participation across differences in culture and circumstance, specifically redressing the exclusion of historically underrepresented groups in higher education. Attention to equity involves ensuring access, opportunity, and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff in every stage of education and career development.

    Inclusion refers to the act of creating environments in which individuals and groups feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued by eliminating practices and behaviors that marginalize. An inclusive climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions so that all people can fully participate in the university’s opportunities.

  • The central administration is composed of executive and senior vice presidents who support the academic and organizational activities across the chancellor-led units (Camden, Newark, New Brunswick, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences), ensuring the smooth operations of the Rutgers University system. They conducted a self-study because lasting institutional change must start in the center and extend out to the chancellor-led units to declare values and priorities. The first step of an honest appraisal of Rutgers is a University Equity Audit focused on central administration because centrally we must hold ourselves accountable first. The self-study enabled executive and senior vice presidents to summarize all current activities in their areas of responsibility that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and reflect on how they think about DEI operationally. The guided self-study asked leaders to engage their respective leadership teams in defining challenges at present (current state) and identify aspirations (ideal state), then reflect on the gap to highlight areas in need of change.

  • Leaders had three weeks to complete the self-study, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, to Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

  • Leaders of the central administration were asked to first determine whether they wanted their leadership team to complete the self-study as a collective team or to develop a unit-based team with representatives from throughout their organization. 
    If they opted for a unit-based team they needed to quickly identify representatives from each unit within their organization. The aim of this approach was to draw on the deep knowledge and expertise of each unit to inform the organization’s self-study. The suggestion for this type of team was to select a member of one unit as a lead, possibly also a leadership team member, and have it staffed by someone whose regular responsibility is to support high-level working teams to keep the work on track given the short turnaround time. 
    If they opted to complete the self-study as a collective leadership team, it was still useful to determine leadership of the self-study process and internal staffing to ensure a high level of support for the self-study given the short turnaround time. Leaders were informed that this is only the beginning of a sustained process to support institutional change and there will be additional opportunities as they shape their organization’s path forward to ensure broad engagement throughout their composite units.
    At a minimum, leaders were encouraged to dedicate a meeting of their leadership team to discussing Part 2 (Operational Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Rating) and Part 3 (Moving Toward Inclusive Excellence) to ensure that their self-study reflected the engagement of those responsible for co-leading their organization.

  • The university leadership perceptions survey aimed to better understand, through triangulation, where the central administration stood on values, principles, and sensibilities about inclusion to inform the work needed to move the institution forward. It was an opportunity for the central administration to learn what perspectives they shared, how they are perceived by others, and what needs to be done to maximize Rutgers' opportunity to attain excellence.

  • Senior university leaders in the central administration (executive/senior vice presidents), as well as their direct reports and all four chancellors, as well as their respective leadership teams (executive/vice chancellors and deans), received the survey.

  • Since the survey was conducted by a team internal to Rutgers, anonymity was essential to encouraging authentic sharing. Each participant received an invitation email that acted as a key enabling them to take the survey only once and enabling Qualtrics to send reminders until it had been completed. Once the participant began the survey, however, their identifying information linked to their email address was no longer attached. Think of it as a house key, you need it to open the door but your movement is not tracked once you enter the house.

  • The survey was in the field for two weeks from Wednesday, July 29, 2020, to Tuesday, August 11, 2020.

  • The equity scorecard was developed to tie quantitative metrics to equity priorities for increasing the representation of historically underrepresented groups at Rutgers. The Office of Institutional Research and Academic Planning compiled summary data on how the university is doing on four dimensions across the chancellor-led units:

    1. Access: Metrics that summarize whether access to the university is increasing for members of historically underrepresented groups.
    2. Retention: Metrics that summarize whether the university is retaining members of historically underrepresented groups.
    3. Success: Metrics that summarize whether students and faculty from historically underrepresented groups are successful at the university.
    4. Leadership Representation: Metrics that summarize whether members of historically underrepresented groups occupy positions of authority.
  • We defined historically underrepresented groups by race and gender. Higher education has a history of inequitable representation by race and gender. Therefore, we need to track quantitative metrics to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented full participation. Race and ethnicity are captured as individuals who identify as Black, Latinx, and/or Native American who are not foreign born. Women are not historically underrepresented in all categories but the difference between the representation of Black, Latinx, and Native American (BLNA) women/men and non-BLNA women is important to capture. For undergraduate students, we added Pell-eligibility, which identifies students having exceptional financial needs, to measure the socioeconomic diversity of the undergraduate population. In addition, available institutional data limits the characteristics that we can track to assess inequities and following trends by race and gender is consistent with research and higher education best practices.

  • Visit President Holloway's website and learn more about our institutional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • The findings from the University Equity Audit will shape the development of a universitywide diversity strategic planning process to be launched this academic year that brings in the voices, ideas, and energy of the diverse stakeholders in our beloved community. We will take what we learned from the University Equity Audit to develop tools and methods that will allow us to look at the chancellor-led units to see what they need to do to increase their opportunities for attaining inclusive excellence. Both steps are integral to developing a shared vision and strategy that acts on the recommendations outlined here, informed at all times by a clear understanding that diversity, equity, and inclusion lead us to excellence.

  • The University Equity Audit was led by Enobong (Anna) Branch. The report would not have been possible without the dedicated work of the analytical team in the senior vice president's office: Corinne Castro, senior director of faculty diversity and inclusion; Joan Collier, director of institutional equity and strategic initiatives; and Lajeanesse Harris, senior executive assistant. We are also indebted to Jessica Zura, associate director of administration and planning, who was the administrative lead for the University Equity Audit. If you have further questions, please contact