Webb Institute is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Below is a message from the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Bruce Rosenblatt, about Webb’s current initiatives and strategic plan.
A MESSAGE ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION AT WEBB
The topics of diversity, equity and inclusion have been an ongoing commitment of the Webb Institute Board of Trustees and Administration and are common themes throughout the recently adopted Webb Strategic Plan. Recognizing that inclusivity, mutual respect and integrity are fundamental to Webb’s Mission, the Strategic Plan calls for consideration of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of Webb governance and operations, including the makeup of the Board, faculty, staff, and student body.
Two goals of the Plan that relate to enhancing the diversity of the student body are:
“To develop a comprehensive student recruitment program to ensure a highly-qualified, diverse student body in future years”, and,
To meet the demonstrated financial need of every student, in keeping with Williams Webb’s goal of serving students with limited resources.”
A significant step towards progressing our commitment to diversity in the student body was the hiring of Lauren Carballo as Director of Admissions and Student Affairs. Being one of the few non-English speaking, Hispanic students in her elementary school, Lauren has personal knowledge of the challenges that young people with differing backgrounds face growing up. Early in life, she developed a passion for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion – a trait that has served Webb and our students well. In her four years at Webb, Lauren has reinvigorated our student recruitment processes
Some recent initiatives aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students at Webb include:
- building bridges to organizations and high schools with large populations of underrepresented students,
- placing greater emphasis on applicants overall academic records, strength of character, extra-curricular and leadership interests, and less emphasis on SAT/ACT scores, and,
- establishing a room & board scholarship program to meet demonstrated financial need. This program originated with a grant from the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation. Over 200 gifts from alumni and friends of Webb have been received over the last three years as we seek to establish permanently endowed scholarship funds to perpetuate the program.
These initiatives are already reaping rewards, with significant increases in the number of minority and socio economically disadvantaged students being realized in recent years. For example, the percentage of ALANA (Asian American, Latino American, Native American, and African American) students in the freshmen class has averaged 28% over the last two years, up two-fold from the ten-year average. Similarly, underrepresented minorities (Latino, Native American and African American) comprise 12% of these classes, up three-fold. We are pleased with these improvements in the diversity of our student body while recognizing that there is more that we can do.
The aforementioned initiatives have been a factor in the steady increase in the application pool and the qualifications of our freshmen over the last five years. At the same time, we have achieved record graduation rates and now boast a student body of 101 students. Of particular significance, the graduation rates of our women and ALANA students have been comparable to or higher than their counterparts. These outcomes are consistent with research indicating the superior performance of diverse communities.
We continuously strive to provide a Webb experience that is safe and enjoyable for all students, regardless of their race, national origin, gender, or religion. Goals in the Strategic Plan related to equity and inclusivity include to:
“Reinforce the strong moral and ethical awareness of Webb students, and the principles of Webb’s Honor Code, so that the college is regarded as a model of inclusivity, respect and integrity”, and,
“Develop programs that further raise the cultural awareness of the student body, faculty and staff, and provide support for the different needs of a diverse student body.”
A number of student clubs provide support for the minority populations at Webb. External speakers on diversity/acceptance/inclusion are invited to present their ideas at Leadership Week. Earlier this year, a webinar hosted by Lauren Caballo on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion garnered participation from three-fourths of the student body. Psychologist Dr. Michelle Stein has become an integral part of our efforts to enhance student health, meeting weekly with Webb students to discuss all aspects of student wellness.
A year ago, the Board of Trustees established its Diversity Committee, with trustee, faculty, staff, and student representation. Chaired by Jen Waters ’91, the Committee is tasked with exploring ideas on enhancing diversity and inclusivity at Webb. The chairmanship of the group has recently transitioned to Dr. George Campbell. This Committee will be reporting to the Board at its regular meetings and tracking our progress in enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion at Webb.
We are constantly on the lookout for new ways to improve the environment at Webb. Should you have suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact Board Chair Bruce Rosenblatt at firstname.lastname@example.org, President Keith Michel at email@example.com, or Director of Admissions and Student Affairs Lauren Carballo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you wish to assist in these efforts by visiting high schools in your region, let us know. The “demonstrated need” scholarship program has been a resounding success but needs more resources. Should you wish to contribute to this effort, please contact the Director of Development Anthony Zic at email@example.com.
We are hopeful that our Homecoming in May can be an in-person event. If so, please join us on campus and exchange ideas with our students, faculty and staff on these important issues.
Bruce S. Rosenblatt
Chairman of the Board of Trustees