May community letter: integrating Pacific's DEI Framework of Excellence

Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi

Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi is Pacific's vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. 

Dear Pacificans,

When I started at Pacific 10 months ago, I met with hundreds of students, faculty and staff to understand what mattered to them. My primary finding was that each Pacifican wants to be seen, heard and know they matter. These conversations helped inform strategies we’ve implemented to improve policies, practices, institutional climate and culture to support President Callahan’s goal of Pacific becoming a model anti-racist university.

We have made significant progress in our work together. Highlights from this year include:

  • The DEI Framework of Excellence was introduced as way to integrate DEI into all aspects of campus life and operations.
  • After thoughtful review of baseline data and many discussions about how to best improve institutional outcomes, the Board of Regents identified seven DEI priorities (one in each committee): 
    • Audit: Ensure all future audits include DEI dimensions.
    • Committee on Regents: Diversify Board of Regents on gender, race and sexual orientation.
    • Finance and Facilities: Increase diversity of vendors in the procurement process across gender, race, veterans and small business.
    • Academic/Student Affairs: Diversify faculty on race and gender and increase retention and graduation rates of students on race and gender.
    • Advancement/Enrollment: Achieve Hispanic-Serving Institution status and increase scholarships for students from underserved populations.
    • Investment: Diversify portfolio on DEI and sustainability dimensions.
    • Human Resources: Diversify staff on race and gender.
  • Benerd College’s DEI committee facilitated reading and discussions of the book, “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies” by renowned anti-racist educator and psychotherapist Resmaa Menakem. The book examines the damage done by racism in America.
  • College of the Pacific is leading general education curriculum changes to enhance knowledge, awareness and skills that address diversity, equity and inclusion issues, opportunities and challenges. Led by Professor Chris Goff, a working group of faculty and students are developing learning outcomes for diversity courses that will provide academic and professional training to help students examine and articulate their understanding of how social, cultural, economic and other historical forces shape contemporary American society.
  • The Conservatory of Music performed a DEI audit of its repertoire. Led by Fei-Lin Hsiao, associate professor of music therapy and assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, the audit provided insight into the types of representation needed on stage and revealed opportunities for greater inclusivity.
  • The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry DEI Committee administered an annual survey on schoolwide DEI needs. As a result, Dugoni offered cultural competency education training to first-year students and encouraged faculty and staff to engage in critical reflection of DEI in dentistry clinical education and equity issues in oral health care research.
  • The Eberhardt School of Business initiated the DEI certificate program, an intensive, two-day course for executives and leadership teams to advance diversity and inclusion efforts and make important strategic changes in their organizations. The CEOs of Color in Residence program created by Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Associate Professor Sacha Joseph-Mathews brought diverse business leaders and entrepreneurs to campus to share their expertise.
  • At McGeorge School of Law, Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz’s efforts to grow DEI initiatives resulted in a $20 million gift for need-based scholarships for students of color and first-generation students. Additionally, the Diverse Bar Support Stipend was created to provide one-time stipends to students preparing for the bar exam. An alumnus has also agreed to donate $50,000 to create an endowment to support the stipends in perpetuity.
  • The Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy’s DEI Committee examined the language used in the Oath of a Pharmacist and the school’s Pledge of Professionalism and felt it needed to incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism. Student leader Athena Hagan and Professor and DEI Lead Marisella Guerrero advanced the committee’s appeal to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) resulting in an amended national oath that pharmacy graduates throughout the nation will recite as part of their Pledge of Professionalism.
  • The School of Engineering and Computer Science (SOECS) doubled the growth of the MESA program (Math, Engineering, Science, Achievement), a college and career prep engine that propels student diversity and achievement in science, technology, engineering and math. SOECS sent over 80 students to MESA. Additionally, SOECS sent 12 MESA students to the Student Leadership Conference in San Jose, CA.
  • One of the School of Health Sciences’ (SHS) priorities is to raise funds for the Dean’s Transformative Resilience Scholarship, awarded to students from diverse backgrounds who have overcome challenges in their journey to graduate school. Eight scholarships were given last year and nine will be awarded next year.
  • The 2022 Muir Symposium titled, New Perspectives on People and Parks, was a gathering of Pacificans, community members and Muir descendants, to discuss Muir’s legacy and raise the questions, “For whom were national parks created? And who has had open access to “America’s Best Idea?” Organized by Professor Bill Swaggerty and University Archivist Mike Wurtz, symposia participants had curated tours of The Muir Experience and visited the archives of John Muir that are preserved and made available for research at the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center at Pacific.
  • The Black History Month Committee produced a robust calendar of events to educate Pacificans about the achievements of the African diaspora that exemplify our university values.
  • Student leaders in Associated Students of University of the Pacific’s (ASuop) department of DEI (Angel Zhong, Jose Flores-Jimenez and Victoria Martinez) implemented a wide range of equity-advancing opportunities for students, including a DEI cinema series with post-film discussions, workshops and trainings about privilege, microaggressions and how to be anti-racist that resulted in the creation of a DEI toolkit for students.
  • Community Involvement Program Student Association (CIPSA) was awarded the Anderson Y Community Service Award for engaging in ongoing community service. The student group exemplified equity through their service at the Stockton Emergency Food Bank, donating food for Thanksgiving and donating toys for the toy drive. CIPSA is housed within the Community Involvement Program (CIP), a comprehensive need-based scholarship and retention program for first-generation college students.
  • The Muslim Student Association (MSA) was named Student Organization of the Year for exemplifying inclusivity through collaborating with other clubs and organizations as well as providing quality programs.
  • Intercultural Student Success hosted year-long programming centered around critical dialogue, community building and cultural-informed student development designed to uplift the voices of students from diverse identities, backgrounds and experiences.
  • In addition to these DEI efforts, “Transformative Allyship,” a six-week workshop designed to create a racially inclusive organization was a success. The series was facilitated by Dr. Elizabeth Trayner, Title IX coordinator, and Dr. Elizabeth Orwin, dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science.
  • The DEI Challenge, a 10-week series for employees focused on topics such as microaggressions, privilege and building a discrimination-free workplace culture around equity and inclusion, was made possible through the partnership of the Staff Advisory Council (SAC), University Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (UCDEI), Academic Council (AC) and ASuop. To provide feedback on the Challenge, please fill out this survey.
  • And finally, three faculty, two staff and two students received the Champion of DEI Award, an annual award recognizing students, faculty and staff who exemplify the university’s values of DEI in an exceptional manner.

This is not an exhaustive list as there are many DEI efforts underway. I am inspired by the words of Regent Charles Berolzheimer when he said in a reflective essay at the April Board of Regents meeting, “Racism 100 or 200 years ago is just as much racism as it is today. We must acknowledge and learn from this history, certainly understanding the context of the times, but not excuse it. Putting our student’s learning, growth and development at the center of how we approach these challenges is perhaps our most important charge.”

I look forward to our continued journey as we integrate the DEI Framework of Excellence together.


Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Professor of Communication