Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework

Northwestern, by seeking to be a biblical representation of a Christ-centered community of men and women, will be intentionally counter-cultural. As the culture runs away from God’s Word, Northwestern is running to God’s Word.

Open Letter to the University of Northwestern Community
on Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework

February 25, 2021

Dear University of Northwestern Community,

In September 2018 the Board of Trustees of the University of Northwestern approved the current Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework. The document came to fruition after twenty-two months of dialogue, research, surveys, reflection, discussion, and prayer. The team of individuals representing various divisions of the organization, appointed by Provost Sommers, was charged to review the 2011 Strategic Diversity and Reconciliation Plan draft, to re-examine the 2009 Diversity Audit as well as all current diversity efforts aimed at encouraging a community of belonging and oneness that reflects the global Kingdom of God. Additionally, the team was asked to conduct additional and needed research and surveys to add to the field of information, and to submit to the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) an updated Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Plan.

A key step in the process was the survey sent to the entire institutional community in April/May 2018. Data collected from the survey was vital in creating the draft document in August 2018. The final draft of the Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework was approved by the SLT and then submitted to the Board of Trustees for final approval in September 2018. Board approval was granted.

I would ask that you take time to read or re-read the document, if you have not had the opportunity.

Let me be clear regarding the formation of the Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework Plan. The document was built on a strong biblical foundation. Its scriptural foundation guides the directives outlined in the Framework so that we, the community of Northwestern, may consider how to encourage, uplift, support and love our fellow colleagues and students amidst our differences and perspectives.

The priorities and directives of the Framework articulate the importance of bringing glory and honor to the Lord by acknowledging the importance of clothing ourselves “with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourself with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Live in peace as members of one body. And, always be thankful.” (Col 3:12-17)

The Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework is clear about the direction Northwestern’s leadership is pursuing. The Framework, endorsed by the community and approved by the Board of Trustees, identifies several recommendations for community impact. The key point of the Framework acknowledges the three areas of urgency – – to build upon foundations already created, identify pathways for pursuing biblical unity, and recognize opportunities to move forward.

I understand some members of our community may not be in full agreement with the Framework’s purpose and directives, the rationale upon which the Framework stands, or the pace of its implementation. Since Northwestern’s Board of Trustees and the Senior Leadership Team have endorsed the Framework and its directives, let it be known that it is the direction which Northwestern will pursue, a direction driven by biblical principles and not cultural demands or expectations.

Let it also be known that our work will be intentional and active. All areas of the organization – university and media ministry, teaching & learning, faculty/staff and student development, institutional decisions, and connection to local and global communities – will be impacted.

It is imperative that we continue to remind ourselves within the Northwestern community that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) But, in working toward the goal of a Christ-centered, God-honoring community of believers, we must remember that doing so will require intentionality, a willingness to listen, an openness to genuine and honest conversations, a spirit of humility and forgiveness. Striving toward biblical unity will not be easy. We may have disagreements and struggles, but by God’s grace, we may experience glimpses now of what will be: people from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb, praising God. (Rev 7:9-10).

I conclude with this thought. Northwestern, by seeking to be a biblical representation of a Christ-centered community of men and women, will be intentionally counter-cultural. As the culture runs away from God’s Word, Northwestern is running to God’s Word.

Alan S. Cureton, President