University implements professional development program based on diversity for faculty, staff

The BUILD diversity certificate is a volunteer based professional development program which focuses on diversity and inclusion and is available to all DePaul faculty and staff. According to the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity (OIDE), “BUILD provides participants with the ‘building blocks to an inclusive campus.’”

“The certificate program helps participants develop cultural competencies, offering the tools necessary for linking diversity to organizational and work performance, and connecting the university’s Vincentian mission of dignity and respect for all individuals to our core operating business principles,” OIDE adds. 

BUILD believes in building multicultural competencies, understanding differences and how they impact the workplace, inclusive excellence, leveraging diversity and building leadership capacity and lastly, developing measures of success.

“BUILD also will focus on building a curriculum that addresses these themes with DePaul faculty and staff experts as well as external diversity, equity and inclusion presenters,” said Liz Ortiz, the vice president of OIDE. “OIDE is proud to work with the campus community in designing a dialogue that reflects the needs and concerns of our community.”

The 18-month long program offers a range of required and elective courses in a seminar format including workshops focusing on structural racism, anti-racism, implicit bias and microaggressions. 

“We are coming into these difficult conversations very vulnerable,” said BUILD Director of Diversity Operations Jose Perales. “We try to have a space to address these issues that are not easy to talk about in the spirit of learning.”

He emphasizes that BUILD offers a safe, welcoming and confidential space for participants. 

“It’s about us as a community engaging all of these concepts with the intent of trying to improve and have a better work environment at DePaul,” Perales said. “We realize that [change] is not going to happen necessarily with one session or several sessions, but what will happen at least is an acknowledgment that we’re attempting to learn about it.”

BUILD’s curriculum is timely as it addresses many of the social, political and economic racial disparities marginalized communities face. Although racial injustice in the U.S. has persisted for centuries, the recent rise in Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd’s death has highlighted the need for diversity and inclusion training. 

The program emerged in 2013 and has since offered 138 workshops with over 1,900 faculty and staff participants. BUILD also regularly updates their content and enlists new speakers while maintaining its core concepts and learning outcomes.

The courses are facilitated by subject matter experts including DePaul faculty external persons. Courses range from addressing racial injustices to a variety of other topics. 

“Examination of the Self” is a new seminar offered this year, facilitated by Dr. Sumi Pendakur, the chief learning officer and director of the USC Equity Institutes at the USC Race and Equity Center

Another addition to the program is the session, “How to Be an Antiracist,” a special event held in conjunction with the DePaul President’s book club based on Ibram X. Kendi’s book. 

Most exciting, BUILD also holds two events during Latinx Heritage month and for the first time, civil rights icon Dolores Huerta will be a keynote speaker on Oct. 7. 

BUILD offers a wide range of courses, and participants can select as many or as few workshops as they like. The program offers two different levels — level two being slightly more comprehensive. Faculty and staff have the option to complete either or both levels. 

The program aims to be accessible and flexible by offering select workshops twice so participants have a greater opportunity to attend. Additionally, those who’ve already taken BUILD workshops can apply past credit towards their certificate. 

There are four training sectors that comprise the BUILD curriculum. First, the compliance sector addresses DePaul’s anti-discrimination policies such as EEO, Title IX and Legislation, which covers laws, policies and regulations. 

Second, the accountability and metrics sector aims to assess the impact of BUILD has on DePaul. Third, the recruitment, retention and engagement sector addresses best teaching practices, implicit bias and strategies that foster a diverse and engaged workforce.

Finally, the cultural competencies sector offers a range of courses focusing on students with disabilities, the DePaul veteran community, and how we serve undocumented communities at DePaul. 

DePaul faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up for as many or as few BUILD courses as they like, and can register for BUILD courses on the OIDE site. 

While the BUILD program is currently limited to DePaul faculty and staff, a student version will potentially launch during the winter quarter.