Colgate Athletics Rolls Out Comprehensive DEI Plan


As part of Colgate’s Third-Century Plan, Colgate Athletics adopted the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan in 2019. Colgate Vice President and Director of Athletics Nicki Moore tasked Deputy Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator Juliana Smith to help craft a committee at Colgate that would carry out DEI initiatives.

Smith said that the selection of the committee has happened over two years, beginning with volunteer work and later adding staff members. 

“The group has evolved over the last two years. It began with individuals who self-selected to be involved in the work. When the charge was formalized and updated in 2019, additional staff members were invited to be involved. Individuals could accept or decline that invitation. The last round of expansion took place after the working group determined the makeup of the permanent DEI committee that would carry forth the plan’s implementation. Existing group members were invited to stay on the committee, and any roles that were unfilled were open for nominations. The working group voted on the additional members and presented its recommendation to the athletics director. She accepted the group’s recommendation and personally invited those selected to serve on the committee,” Smith said. 

Smith also said that this task is particularly challenging, but can lead to immense growth.

“This work is challenging and requires humility and vulnerability for each person involved, and it’s an amazing opportunity for each of us to grow through the work while serving as leaders in this space for our division,” Smith said.

The committee will be addressing inclusivity in the Colgate athletic environment and redefining what is considered Colgate Athletics’ core values. While that may be a challenging task, Smith seemed confident and excited to begin the difficult work.

“Leading a process focused on systemic change can seem never-ending, but it’s important that we celebrate progress along the way. The committee acknowledged the sense of urgency that exists across our nation in the space of diversity, equity and inclusion, but we maintain that this work isn’t about reacting to current events,” Smith said. “Rather, the work that the committee is charged with carrying out is for the long-term success of our division. That said, I’m proud of the way we’ve responded to the current climate without losing sight of the long-term systemic change we’re working towards. We’ve made great progress over the last year, and that was prior to the official release of our plan.”

The group also has several positions intended to foster inclusion and increased representation of BIPOC candidates for faculty and staff positions. The plan also includes vigilance in hiring practices and several initiatives for faculty and staff retention once these underrepresented candidates are actually hired by Colgate. In this way, the DEI team is committed to not only bringing these underrepresented candidates onto Colgate’s campus but also keeping them here and assisting in enhancing their experience. This is evident in the fourth goal of the plan labeled “Retention and Development of Diverse Faculty & Staff,” which mentions support for underrepresented faculty and staff members. 

There have also been several webinars and meetings held with coaches, administrators and staff to discuss the place of white people in the push for racial equity. Senior Associate Director for External Affairs and Strategic Advancement and member of the DEI committee Laura Sgrecci spoke about the importance of white solidarity and action in the committee’s work. 

“Whether we realize it or not, those of us who are white contribute to the systems which perpetuate the problem, but by committing to the hard and sometimes uncomfortable work, we can be part of the solution,” she said. “[I am] grateful to work as part of the DEI committee, creating change throughout PERA so that each and every person feels welcome, included, has a voice and has a place here.” 

But the work of the DEI core goals does not end with coaches, staff, faculty and administration.

“[It] is essential that student-athletes are involved in the plan. Involvement can range from simply knowing what the plan is and keeping an eye on our division’s progress toward each initiative to serving as a full member of the DEI committee. My hope is that the plan’s success is manifested in a more inclusive, rich student-athlete experience. Each goal and initiative was written with the student-athlete experience in mind, even those centered on faculty and staff,” Smith said.

Smith said she hopes everyone involved in Colgate Athletics will be a part of this revolutionary movement, and remain committed to making Colgate a more inclusive and equitable space.