Findings of Workplace Culture Concerns within Undergraduate Admissions Office
December 17, 2020
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
As you may know, earlier this fall an employee in the Undergraduate Admission Office filed a formal complaint alleging discriminatory and hostile working conditions against his manager, and then he resigned.
Loyola University Chicago is committed to providing a culture of safety, respect, equity, and inclusion within all University workspaces and educational settings. The University does not tolerate discrimination, bullying, or harassment of any kind. As you would expect, Loyola maintains a policy that prohibits discrimination and from the start has taken these allegations very seriously.
An immediate investigation was initiated by Loyola’s Office for Equity and Compliance, and due to the charged nature of the allegations, and to avoid even the appearance of any conflict of interest, the University subsequently engaged an external investigator who specializes in workplace investigations and has extensive U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) experience to review the facts in this case to ensure fairness to all parties involved.
After a thorough review of the evidence provided by both parties in this matter, and numerous witness interviews, the external investigation concluded. The findings were that the manager did not violate the University’s Comprehensive Policy with respect to the allegations of hostile work environment, discrimination, or retaliation. Therefore, the manager was found not responsible. The investigator’s report was shared with a panel of Loyolans, and the members of the panel provided their input and broader recommendations to the Provost.
We recognize that some may disagree with this outcome. In fact, given the reaction and the very differing views expressed among the University community from the outset to this situation, it is clear we still have significant work to do as a University.
As a Jesuit, Catholic institution, our mission compels us to implement enduring institutional changes while also addressing immediate needs. As such, we need to improve our ability to listen for true understanding without rushing to judgement, and to exercise respect, care, and responsibility for others, even when we disagree.
More importantly, it is essential for us to individually and institutionally understand how people who have shared interactions within our community experience these interactions differently, and can come to differing viewpoints as a result. We must work together to build bridges of trust and to try to understand the reasons for our differing viewpoints, while at all times demonstrating compassion and respect for each other.
To that end, we are pursuing meaningful steps to enact broad and sustainable cultural change that permeates throughout the University to ensure we are living up to our own expectations and values. For example, we have already:
- Started the search for a new Director of Multicultural Admission to ensure we continue that important work, which helped us welcome our most diverse class in University history this year;
- Introduced mandatory racial bias training for first-year students;
- Begun establishing a Black Student Success Taskforce to implement solutions like an Office of Black Student Success by early spring semester 2021;
- Completed anti-racism training for all staff in Enrollment Management;
- Expanded mental health resources for all students, faculty, and staff; and
- Commenced planning for the establishment of our new Institute for Racial Justice.
Additionally, in the coming months, we will aim to take the following steps that take into consideration the feedback and recommendations of the panel:
- Require faculty and staff, including managers, to participate in developmental training that is mission-based with an eye to racial justice and reconciliation, and such training is an ongoing expectation for professional development;
- Establish Community Standards for University faculty and staff that clearly set the expectations of every member of the Loyola community with a measurement of our progress toward these standards and clear modes of accountability for those who violate them;
- Introduce mandatory anti-discrimination training for all University faculty and staff who are involved in the recruitment and hiring process;
- Add new courses to our robust cultural competency training repertoire available to staff and faculty year-round;
- Improve the diversity of employment candidate pools through formal partnerships with specialized recruiting organizations;
- Remove standardized test requirements from admission criteria;
- Increase recruitment efforts focused on students coming from Chicago Public Schools;
- Implement data-driven solutions to optimize recruitment of diverse student populations; and
- Expand mentoring programs for diverse faculty through the Center for Faculty Excellence.
As a University community, we must focus on healing and rededicate ourselves to action; we must all—together—advance a University climate and culture that supports our mission and commitment to respect, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We invite you to continue to follow our efforts to make Loyola a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for all students, faculty, and staff by visiting the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Anti-Racism Initiative websites often.
Yours in Loyola,
Norberto Grzywacz, PhD
Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Winifred Williams, PhD
Vice President, Chief Vice Human Resources Officer and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer