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Macaulay Honors College Releases “2020-2021: The Year in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

  • Report details positive change within the college including a 15% increase in overall admissions applications, diverse hires at the senior level, and new programming.
  • An open letter from students, paired with employee activism, moved the college to make important, permanent changes.


Macaulay saw an unprecedented level of activity during the 2020-2021 academic year aimed at providing a more equitable learning and professional environment for its staff and students. The Macaulay DEI Advisory Group, an internal committee charged by Interim Dean Dr. Vanessa K. Valdés to be an advisory body to the Office of the Dean, is pleased to share an accounting of these efforts in the newly-released report entitled “2020-2021: The Year in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The twenty-one page document, the first of its kind made available to the entire Macaulay community, details the progress that the college has made, outlines activities in key functional areas, and includes supporting data.

“The release of this DEI report is a major milestone for Macaulay,” said Dr. Valdés. “This global pandemic laid bare our structural inequities as a society; in response to it, we were able to examine many of our internal structures and make changes.”


The Initial Spark

During the summer of 2020, millions of Americans felt empowered to confront racial inequality, including members of the Macaulay community. Student and staff activist groups came together to share their stories and speak their truths. They used survey data, open letters of concern and direct dialog to recommend changes to the college’s administration. “2020-2021: The Year in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” includes many of these communications.

“We did a lot of listening when faced with the realities of these painful topics.” explains Gianina Chrisman, one of the leaders of the Macaulay DEI Advisory Group and Macaulay’s Associate Director of Career Development. “And then acted, working with the Departments of Academic Affairs, Student Development, External Relations and Enrollment Management to make Macaulay a more antiracist organization.”


Student Catalysts

The report acknowledges the important role that student activists and student government played in shaping policies and programs at Macaulay. The Macaulay Scholars Council represented student concerns in partnership with the college administration.

“Macaulay students are very driven and pro-active,” says Arvind Dev, Vice President of IT/Communications of the Macaulay Scholars Council. “They documented structural inequities that they experienced or witnessed others experiencing and pushed the administration to communicate better and adopt student-led solutions.”

The report covers several major initiatives, with the most important briefly listed here.

New Faculty: New hires in Academic Affairs, Advising, and Mental Health and Wellness, helped to ensure that college faculty and staff more closely reflect the diversity of New York City and of the student body.

Bridge Scholars: Macaulay expanded this innovative program, which provides a pathway for high achieving community college students to pursue a Macaulay Honors College education.

Applicant Diversity: Macaulay achieved a 15% percent increase in admissions applications, with applicants coming from over 900 different high schools and 30% of applicants identifying as Black/Latinx.

Staff Climate Survey: The Office of Institutional Effectiveness launched a staff climate survey for the first time to help the administration better understand employee experience and perspectives.

Justice and Equity Honors Network: This new program allows students from both Macaulay and Arizona State University Honors College to explore interdisciplinary issues related to justice and equity.

“While it is important to recognize the accomplishments Macaulay has made in the past year, the college has work to do to meet the full needs of its community,” said Chrisman. Adds Dr. Valdés, “Macaulay is committed to transparency in its efforts to be more inclusive, and we invite every member of our community to read the report and support these efforts.”


“2020-2021: The Year in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” may be accessed in its entirety by visiting https://macaulay.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/macaulay_dei_2021_0929.pdf