Robin Kelley leads the OIE as the chief diversity officer.

The newly named Office of Inclusive Excellence (OIE), formerly known as the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which promotes diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) through its services, functions and initiatives, is looking to make sustainable shared transformational change at Gonzaga University with its upcoming plans.

“The primary reason why we changed our name is we wanted to express to the campus that the work we do is not just an extra add-on and that it needs to touch every aspect of the university and that we all need to be involved in this work,” said Robin Kelley, chief diversity officer for GU.

Kelley said the office oversees DEI work centered on GU's systems and structures, policies and procedures and campus climate. She also said the office collaborates on  programming and events.

According to Kelley, the name change better reflects the work done by the office’s team, and she said the term “inclusive excellence” is an emerging term used by DEI offices across the country.

"Inclusive excellence is a framework for diversity, equity and inclusion embedded in all aspects of the university, and we're all responsible for the students' success and DEI."

Christina Thomas, the acting Title IX coordinator and director of discrimination and harassment, also said she believes the name change reflects the goals and work of the office.

“We went through a lot of different name ideas of things we do but we decided on 'inclusive excellence' because we are inclusive as we are trying to build inclusivity throughout our entire campus community within the structures of GU within policies, etc.” Thomas said.  “We are trying to get those to grow, and we want an excellent university, so I think that helps with name recognition as the more people know who we are in the office and what we intend to do, the more likely people are wanting to engage.”

Kelley has led OIE as chief diversity officer since 2021 after beginning at GU in 2020 as associate chief diversity officer. She manages and coordinates from an institution level the DEI and belonging efforts of the university.

The office leads multiple sectors, including the BIAS Team, the Title IX Office and the Underrepresented Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, a council which represents students, faculty and staff equally. It also hosts training programs for faculty, staff and students.

The most recent announcement made by OIE is its Inclusive Excellence strategic plan, which is meant to set out the university’s next step to becoming a distinguished public institution that advances equitable access, inclusive learning and engagement in a diverse community. 

“The strategic plan is a roadmap for the entire campus to move towards change in doing our work and will cover diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, social justice and it will require all departments to have a plan for how they’re going to approach this work,” Kelley said.

According to Kelley, the university council has spent the past two years assessing GU’s current work with diversity. The first year was mostly spent on this assessment while the past year focused on involving community feedback through focus groups with cultural clubs, student groups, deans, faculty, staff, faculty senate, staff senate and smaller focus groups. Kelley said feedback has been collected from all these different groups through events such as a town hall last spring and sessions with university leadership.

The strategic plan focuses on the themes of recruitment, retention and success, campus climate and intergroup relationships, teaching, scholarship and service, education, training, development, assessment, reporting and accountability.

This adds to the impact that the office hopes to achieve throughout the upcoming years and directing the university toward creating positive change.

“I think that the impact the office has done and is still trying to do is change the structure of GU,” Thomas said. “I think the work that OIE is trying to do is going to have a long-lasting impact on GU which you may not see right now, but five-10 years down the road you will see the change and see how powerful an impact it makes in building a structure for the university.”

For more information on the Office of Inclusive Excellence and their work, visit https://www.gonzaga.edu/about/offices-services/office-of-inclusive-excellence.

Dominic Pe Benito is a diversity editor.

Diversity Editor

Dominic Pe Benito is a junior from Gilroy, CA. He was a staff writer last spring before becoming a diversity editor for this fall. He is also the editor-in-chief of Our Voices and president of FASU.