Dean Coll's Letter on Diversity Report

April 27, 2022

Dear Members of the J-School Community,

I write with important updates about our school’s ongoing actions to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion across the Graduate School of Journalism.

I am pleased to announce the public release of an independent report – including 21 key recommendations for action – that we commissioned in late 2020 from former faculty member Lonnie Isabel. The report reflects months of interviews and data collection and analysis, as well as the input of faculty, staff and alumni volunteers. 

Professor Isabel‘s report offers a landmark assessment of the school’s climate, deficits in representation, and patterns of student discipline and achievement – and some of it makes for disturbing reading. Some of the findings echo testimony and calls for reform we have heard from students and recent alumni of color during town hall and other meetings, starting in the summer of 2020. 

The report proposes a clear, nuanced and measurable path for change, one we have already embarked upon, aided by Professor Isabel’s decision to submit his action recommendations to the school and faculty at the start of this academic year, so that we could evaluate his findings and get to work while he completed his data analysis.

As some of you know, this spring, after a rigorous search, we appointed the school’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Pamela McKelvin-Jefferson, who is already making an impact – among other things, by identifying how we can rigorously measure change and hold ourselves accountable for achieving it.

Pamela is working with our school leaders in student life, admissions, career services, academic affairs, human resources and on our faculty to strengthen our hiring, increase access for underrepresented students, and above all to focus hard on how to support students of color and foreign students from the global south who must navigate our short, intense degree programs – too often, as Professor Isabel’s report documents, while feeling excluded or experiencing unacceptable barriers to achievement.

Faculty-and-staff committees on curriculum reform and criteria for student honors and prizes have already completed important work this academic year. Yet we are all aware that much remains undone and that the work will challenge us to renew our commitment to change – and to be accountable to our community – amidst many competing priorities.

Please join me in welcoming Pamela and in thanking Lonnie Isabel for his lasting contribution to the J-School.


Steve Coll