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November 1, 2017

I write to you today on a topic of central importance to Peabody and its long-term objectives, specifically to provide an update on various initiatives related to diversity and inclusion that have been in the works and are now moving forward.

The Peabody Diversity Pathway Task Force was formed some 18 months ago in order to more effectively address important issues around diversity and inclusion at Peabody. The charge of that group is to examine Peabody’s current state of diversity with a focus on under-represented communities and establish a long-term plan that addresses the diversity pipeline for students, faculty, and staff, and in doing so, foster an ongoing conversation about the culture of diversity at Peabody and in the world of classical music.

In order to facilitate the work of the task force, sub-committees were formed across three areas:  Pipeline to Student Recruitment; Curriculum and Programming; and Climate/Inclusion and Cultural Competency.  Each group, co-chaired by a member of the administration, a faculty member, and a student, was charged with making a series of recommendations to the task force for consideration. The following is a brief update on action steps and specific initiatives currently underway, including those emerging from the various work groups.

Student Recruitment

  • Identify preparatory programs, community music schools, public schools, and performing arts high schools that have notable populations of under-represented minority (URM) students, and target recruitment activities of staff and faculty for repeated engagement. The goal is to engage with at least 4 schools with notable URM populations during the 2017-18 academic year, conducting admissions presentations and/or faculty workshops.
  • Identify at least 3 schools for the Blue Ribbon Scholarship, a new program in which partner schools can identify and recommend strong applicants who, if admitted, will receive scholarships to attend Peabody. The intent is to build on progress made in the last two years in which the number of URM matriculated students has increased as a percentage of student population from 8 percent to 9 percent.
  • Engage with notable organizations focused on building diversity in the arts such as the Sphinx Organization and the Atlanta Symphony Talent Development program. The goal is to conduct visits and make presentations on applying to music schools, the audition process, financial aid, and careers in music, while providing an opportunity for students and parents to engage with admissions staff.  We will explore opportunities for students from these programs to visit Peabody.
  • Dedicate a percentage of the scholarship budget each year to expanding access to first-generation college students and other historically under-represented and disadvantaged students, and increase the role financial need plays in scholarship decisions in a merit-based system.
  • Develop marketing and messaging specific to recruiting diverse populations, highlighting success stories of URM alumni and new community engagement, curricular, and programmatic aspects focused on diversity.​
  • Continue to expand Peabody’s role in strengthening pathways to a conservatory education through programs like Tuned In (expanded this year to 70 students including strings for the first time), focusing on connecting with talented youth, creating the exposure and opportunities to cultivate their talent in order to maximize their potential for pursuing a life in music.

Faculty, Staff, and Programming Diversity

  • Provide training sessions on diversity and inclusion issues. To date, these have included Diversity and Inclusion for the 21st Century on the Homewood campus with 40 Peabody staff members attending, and the Faculty Opening Workshop at Peabody focused on Intergenerational Learning and the differences among us.  Over 100 faculty were in attendance. More sessions are planned.
  • Implement the Faculty Diversity Plan.  Out of 28 faculty members hired this year (adjunct, full-time and part-time), 18 percent were URM hires.
  • Include in the faculty evaluation system this year a new question asking how the faculty member is supporting diversity and modeling inclusion.
  • Establish the Diversity Faculty Development Fund in support of diversity and inclusion activities within our school. Departments are eligible to receive funding towards the expenses of an on-campus visit from a guest lecturer, presenter, or performer.
  • Incorporate programming of works of diverse composers and attract guest performers and faculty from under-represented minorities to more proactively highlight a diversity of musical voices.

Climate

  • Establish the Peabody Institute Diversity Fund to be able to address a wide range of issues related to diversity and inclusion.
  • Administer a climate survey. Finding an appropriate tool has been an area of close scrutiny by the subcommittee, and work is still ongoing to find and adapt that tool.
  • Utilize survey findings to help inform future required training and campus conversations for faculty, staff and students.
  • Develop a shared language/lexicon that is available and can be used as a point of entry into training sessions and as the take-away for the community.

These points are not intended to be comprehensive of all activities ongoing, but rather a review of key initiatives. I would also encourage you to look for more information about Diversity at Peabody at: http://peabody.jhu.edu/explore-peabody/our-future/diversity-at-peabody/.

I am grateful to the members of the Peabody Diversity Pathway Task Force and all other members of our community who have been part of this important conversation and the development of action steps now and in the future.