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Thriving and Inclusion

In pursuit of our strategic plan priority to foster a thriving and inclusive University community, President Crutcher has appointed three university-wide committees to address issues specific to thriving, inclusion, diversity, and equity (TIDE). These strategically connected committees are currently engaged in important work to better understand Richmond’s past, coordinate our current TIDE efforts across campus, and plan for our shared future. The committees’ efforts will culminate in a final report from the President by June 30, 2019, offering recommendations to help us become a stronger community where all our members can participate fully in the life of the university, reach their full potential, and thrive together.


Key Terms and Definitions

The University’s thriving and inclusion efforts are grounded in the below terms and definitions. These definitions resulted from the efforts of the Planning Committee for a Thriving and Inclusive Community in 2015, which informed the Thriving and Inclusive University Community pillar of the strategic plan, Forging Our Future, Building from Strength.

Diversity: A state of having many forms of difference present in a community, often including a wide range of human differences. At its most basic, diversity refers to demographic difference, especially with respect to those demographic groups that have been historically restrained, excluded, or oppressed.

Equity: The ability of historically under-represented populations to achieve results consistent with full participation. This includes the creation of opportunities for such populations to have equal access to and participate in professional and educational programs that close the achievement and outcomes gaps between populations. In higher education, equity can be achieved by eliminating disparities of opportunity, resources, and outcomes for historically underrepresented populations in ways that are consistent with the institutional commitment to full participation. Pursuing equity requires equity mindedness, an approach guided by an awareness of the ways in which many groups have been historically excluded from professional and educational opportunities within the structures and institutions that house those opportunities. Being equity-minded in higher education also means “relocating the cause of disparities…in outcomes from the imagined deficits of [historically excluded groups] to the institutional structures and policies we create.”[1]

Full Participation: An affirmative value focused on creating a campus community in which all community members, whatever their identity, background, or institutional position, thrive, recognize their full potential, engage meaningfully in institutional life, and contribute to the flourishing of others. Full participation means a commitment to the mutual thriving of members of the community, and that the thriving of one group should not come at the expense of thriving of another group.[2] Full participation directs us to focus on achieving equity in terms of opportunity and outcomes afforded by and in higher education.

Inclusivity: What a community does to demonstrate its commitment to diversity; how a community honors, values, and accepts diversity among its community members. Inclusivity is observable in the extent to which (a) community members feel a sense of belonging and (b) the community is equitable in its provision and distribution of opportunities among its members.

Making Excellence Inclusive: An active process that requires the uncovering of inequities in student success, identifying effective educational practices, and building such practices organically to sustain institutional change, with the goal of providing all students access to a high-quality, practical liberal arts education.[3]

Thriving: Thriving is a condition of individuals who experience an institution’s commitment to full participation. When a community fosters wellbeing among all its members, enables individuals to reach their full potential, and intentionally eliminates barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential, community members thrive. Thriving does not equate to happiness or being comfortable; resilience, stretching one’s potential, making decisions about a balanced and fulfilling life, and giving oneself permission to fail are all dimensions of thriving. 

[1] K. Witham, L.E. Malcom-Piqueux, A.C. Dowd, and E.M. Bensimon. America’s Unmet Promise: The imperative for equity in higher education. American Association of Colleges and Universities (2015).

[2] S. Sturm, T. Eatman, J. Saltmarsh, and A. Bush. “Full participation: Building the architecture for diversity and public engagement in higher education.” White Paper, Columbia University Law School, Center for Institutional and Social Change (2011).

[3] Making Excellence Inclusive. Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Retrieved from