Letter to Campus
(March 30, 2022)

UMD’s Deans unanimously supported a proposal to incorporate discipline-specific diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) learning outcomes into all undergraduate degree programs. This decision (on September 11, 2020) captured an emergent campus sentiment embodied in UMD’s Fearlessly Forward strategic plan, which includes as a guiding principle that our strength is enhanced by embracing differences and pursuing equity.

An underlying rationale for this campus-wide initiative is that UMD has a responsibility to prepare students for a changing, globally interconnected world by:

  1. fostering nuanced comprehension of how social identity differences have affected the evolution of their chosen disciplines, and
  2. imparting skillful ways to promote inclusion and equity in the practice of those disciplines.
Key steps in implementing this initiative and relevant campus resources are summarized below.

DEI Learning Outcomes Initiative

As a first step, all undergraduate degree programs were invited to generate and submit discipline-specific DEI learning outcomes with their AY2022 annual learning outcomes assessment reports. Nearly all degree programs submitted DEI outcomes and, as support for this work, members of the Provost’s Commission on Learning Outcomes Assessment compiled descriptive information about these submissions and shared their observations regarding attributes that could strengthen their value.

General Ed Diversity Implementation Working Group


On March 1, 2022, the University Senate voted to approve modifications to the General Education diversity requirement that had been proposed by the Diversity Education Task Force (DETF). Consistent with several pillars of UMD’s strategic plan (i.e., re-imagine learning; take on humanity’s grand challenges), these modifications necessitate development of a coordinated, campus-wide plan to handle shifts in the academic content of approved courses, procedures for signaling, record-keeping, and monitoring students’ progress in fulfilling the requirement, and transitioning from old to new terms.

The purpose of the General Education Diversity Implementation (GEDI) working group is to plan, coordinate, launch, monitor, and report on progress regarding approved changes to the General Education diversity requirement.

The General Education Diversity Implementation (GEDI) working group would report to, coordinate with, and be guided by the Dean for Undergraduate Studies. It would be chaired by the Associate Dean for General Education, who oversees the entire General Education program.

Membership and structure

To fine-tune and successfully implement General Education diversity requirement changes, the combined knowledge and coordinated effort of key administrators, faculty and technical staff experts, advisors, and General Education instructors is essential.

To keep this initiative agile and focused on task completion, an optimal size for a planning group is 6-9 people. (More than this makes it difficult to schedule meetings, share information, and reach consensus.)

Thus, to balance broad campus participation with efficiency, the GEDI working group will be composed of a planning subgroup with members who work with (1) an administrative subgroup and (2) an academic subgroup.

GEDI planning group members should be comprised of:

  • Campus and college administrators and leaders responsible for estimating and reaching undergraduate planning cycle targets
  • Representatives from DIT, the Registrar’s office, the Diversity Education Task Force, the General Education diversity faculty board, and TLTC or ODI
  • An expert in learning outcome assessment

GEDI academic working group members should be nominated by their academic colleges in consultation with the Dean for Undergraduate Studies to ensure that the group as a whole:

  • is broadly representative of the academic units that currently supply the largest share of General Education diversity courses;
  • includes scholarly expertise in areas related to diversity (e.g., race and racism; women’s studies, multilingual societies, etc.), and
  • encompasses a wide range of the social identity attributes that are the focus of General Education diversity courses.

GEDI administrative working group members should be determined through consultation with key campus units involved in: information systems and programming of campus IT tools, registration standards, advising (including transfer advising), and relationships with local community colleges.

GEDI working group tasks

are broadly conceived as follows:

  • GEDI planning group
    i. Plan and coordinate the work, decisions, and communications across subgroups. Help them find resolutions to issues and problems.
    ii. Identify the impact on University course administration and operations and systems for modifications that reflect the approved changes and suggest approaches that ensure a smooth, low-cost transition, including transfer credit services, negotiations with community colleges, timing of the change in requirements, etc.
    iii. Implement, and monitor the impact of proposed General Education diversity course modifications on seat availability for undergraduate students; and identify and implement recommendations for addressing any shortfalls in needed versus available seats.
  • GEDI academic group
      i. Finalize language used for the category labels and learning outcomes of the proposed changes to the diversity General Education requirements, in a way that:
      1. captures the spirit and intent of proposed changes;
      2. is clear and meaningful to instructors from different disciplinary backgrounds; and
      3. signals broad inclusion of diversity attributes.
    • ii. Develop course approval standards in each category for use by the Diversity General Education faculty board (including recommending general guidelines or content standards for required learning outcomes). These should balance inclusion of diversity courses across a broad range of disciplines with academic and substantive rigor.
    • iii. Develop protocols for converting currently approved General Education diversity courses to the proposed new categories and establish procedures to streamline the review process for currently approved courses.
    • iv. Identify content and process recommendations for instructor workshops and consultations that could be offered by the Office of Undergraduate Studies, the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center, and/or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
  • GEDI administrative group
    i. Provide estimates of the scope, time, and costs associated with implementing changes in various campus information systems.
    ii. Identify potential roadblocks or problems and recommend possible solutions as well as what units would undertake making needed changes.
    iii. Implement IT and policy changes and monitor progress.

Suggested decision-making principles:

  • The GEDI working group should ensure broad representation and/or transparency in making decisions.
  • Where possible, the GEDI working group and any subgroups should strive for resolutions and decisions that incorporate minority viewpoints. Where unanimity cannot be reached, its decisions should be guided by a plurality of members.

Deliverables of the GEDI working group include the following:

  • Provide the Dean for Undergraduate Studies and the Senate Educational Affairs Committee with a preliminary report on the proposed implementation plan, including an estimated timetable for implementing changes, language and rationale for final category names and learning outcomes, and summary of the impact associated with completing the proposed changes.
  • Provide the Dean for Undergraduate Studies with interim progress reports on the timetable, anticipated challenges, and suggested resolutions for identified challenges.
  • Present to the University Senate regular reports on implementation of General Education diversity changes including data on the conversion of previously approved courses, new approved courses, and any assessment data pertaining to course quality.