Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Diversity Digest Volume 10, Number 2

Diversity Digest
Volume 10,
Number 2

Download our print issue (PDF)
Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Diversity and Learning: “A Defining Moment”
Institutional Diversity in a New Nation: Lessons Lived, Lessons Learned
The Pedagogy of Sentipensante: Recasting Institutional Core Agreements
Transforming Our Institutions for the Twenty-first Century: The Role of the Chief Diversity Officer
Creating Institutional Transformation Using the Equity Scorecard
Curricular Transformation
Service Learning, Multicultural Education, and the Core Curriculum:
A Model for Institutional Change
Drop It Like It’s Hot! Hip-Hop in the Twenty-First-Century Classroom
A Sustainable Campus-Wide Program for Diversity Curriculum Infusion
Campus-Community Involvement
El Camino Real: Where Culture and Academia Meet
Faculty Involvement
Advancing Diversity through a Framework of Intersectionality: Inclusion of LGBT Issues in Higher Education
Transitioning on Campus: Creating a Welcoming Climate for Transgender People
Complicating Diversity Categories: Jewish Identity in the Classroom
Student Experience
Dealing with Student Resistance: Sources and Strategies
Beyond Tourism: Race, Space, and National Identity in London
Graduate and Professional Degree Attainment for Students of Color
Affordability of Postsecondary Education for Students of Color
Diversity and Learning Resources

Creating Institutional Transformation Using the Equity Scorecard

By Abbie Robinson-Armstrong, vice president for intercultural affairs; Derenda King, intercultural associate; David Killoran, professor and chair of Department of English; Henry Ward, director of intercultural affairs; Matthew X. Fissinger, director of admissions; and Lorianne Harrison, associate director for residence life—all at Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University (LMU) launched the “equity scorecard” in 2002 to support the university’s new strategic plan, which aims in part to “actively promote diversity in the student body, faculty, and staff and to create a more vibrant student culture through an enhanced intellectual environment.” The equity scorecard is one of the most effective diversity assessment tools available, and we have used it to convince faculty and staff of the need for change and to provide a structure of accountability. By using the scorecard to stimulate discussion and action within individual strategic units, faculty and administrators have transformed the institution, effecting measurable outcomes across multiple departments and programs.

Estela Bensimon’s team at the University of Southern California designed the scorecard to address the problem “that equity, while valued in principle at many institutions, is not regularly measured in relation to educational outcomes for specific groups of students.” Bensimon describes the scorecard as a diversity assessment tool that “foster[s] institutional change in higher education by helping to close the achievement gap for historically underrepresented students” (Bensimon 2004, 45). The scorecard encourages institutions to develop a consultative process that incorporates both the broad-based needs of the institution and those of specific institutional units and strategic programs. By requiring measurable accountability, it promotes institutional change.

LMU’s Use of the Scorecard

Equity scorecards focus attention on educational equity and use quantitative data to assess progress in four perspectives: (1) access, (2) retention, (3) educational excellence, and (4) institutional viability. Such units as the registrar’s or financial aid office collect data, which we disaggregate by ethnicity and gender to determine an institution’s “score” in each of these perspectives. The scorecard’s innovation lies in part in its system for evaluating the subjective dimensions of excellence and viability. To evaluate educational excellence, we consider ethnicity and gender in relation to such factors as the dean’s list, four-year graduation rates, the top ten percent in GPA distribution, and pass/fail rates in gatekeeper courses. We evaluate institutional viability by considering the faculty and staff’s ethnicity, gender, and institutional rank, and identifying how these are related.

LMU has expanded the use of equity scorecards by applying the scorecard to individual strategic units within the university: separate colleges and schools, the honors program, the athletics program, the study abroad program, and the university library, for example. Each unit compares the data in all four scorecard perspectives to the profile of the overall student body to determine where education gaps exist. We then amalgamate these individual scorecards to create the institutional equity scorecard. We define equity as the point at which a particular ethnic group’s representation across all academic indicators—majors, programs, honors, graduation, and degrees awarded—is relatively equal to the group’s representation in the student body.

LMU’s deans appoint members to serve on a scorecard team. These members lead their respective units’ initiatives to review their data and to implement programmatic responses where necessary. The team meets every few months to discuss successes and challenges and to provide support. Through team members, individual units maintain control of their equity initiatives: they must identify their action areas and meet their chosen goals. The president holds each unit accountable for change: after a two-year period, the committee reassesses the data and reports to the president at a town-hall style meeting.

LMU’s president led the scorecard initiative, so the administration supported it from its inception. Nevertheless, we faced challenges as we began to implement the scorecard. Often faculty and staff responded to quantitative data analysis with discomfort, and we had to contend with a culture that did not support its use. Five years after the project’s initiation, however, the LMU community has widely accepted the scorecard; some departments have even voluntarily implemented it.

Scorecard Outcomes

With the help of a Campus Diversity Initiative grant from the James Irvine Foundation, we responded to the scorecard results by establishing a number of programs across the university. The synergy created by the interaction of the strategic plan, equity scorecard, and diversity initiatives provided ideological and financial support for transforming the institution. Although we cannot possibly describe every new program implemented or recount every outcome, several examples illustrate the encompassing scope of transformation.

The student body’s diversity and levels of achievement have vastly improved. Before the scorecard was used, Asian/ Pacific Islander student enrollment percentages had decreased. After launching the equity scorecard, Asian/Pacific Islander enrollment increased from 12 percent in 2002 to 14 percent in 2005. Previously, we did not collect data on the percentages of underrepresented students who applied for national and international scholarships; as of fall 2005, we established baseline data, and we now aim to increase the number of students of color who apply for and are awarded these scholarships. We have also increased the percentages of students of color invited into the University Honors Program. In 2002, African Americans comprised 1.9 percent of students in the program; in 2005, they comprised 2.4 percent. Latino shares grew from 6.7 percent to 8.3 percent in the same period.

Many departments have likewise made considerable gains in diversifying their faculty and curricula. For example, the history department reported a near doubling in the percentages of female faculty members since instituting the scorecard. LMU has instituted new forms of faculty support, including a popular faculty development program on inclusive teaching that provides ongoing pedagogical support for new tenure-track faculty members in their second year of teaching. Departments have also instituted curricular change: one example comes from the classics and archaeology department, where a professor used a Transformation of Courses in the Major grant to develop a new text to engage students of color in Latin classes.

By using the equity scorecard, LMU has found a way to draw attention to inequity and to motivate change. The equity scorecard inspired us to seek outcomes that included new departmental and institutional structures; changes in policies, pedagogies, curriculum, and budgets, and in student learning and assessment practices; and shifts in the language campus administrators use to talk about the university. Not only has the equity scorecard helped the university make clear and compelling cases to key stakeholders about why things must be done differently, but it has pushed faculty and staff to craft a sensible agenda that focuses on improvement without assigning blame. The equity scorecard has stimulated debate about critical academic issues (including academic climate, faculty retention, faculty recruitment and hiring, access, and student success). In doing so, it has allowed faculty and staff to simultaneously work within a culture and challenge that culture’s comfort zone in pursuit of change.

The Original Diversity Scorecard:
Making the Need for Change Visible

Estela Mara Bensimon described the original diversity scorecard initiative upon which the equity scorecard is based as follows:

“With the exception of historically black institutions and tribal colleges, intra-institutional stratification based on race and ethnicity is a reality within most higher education institutions, regardless of whether they are predominantly white, open-access, or classified as Hispanic Serving Institutions. However, the specificities of this intra-institutional stratification are largely invisible because equity in educational outcomes does not constitute a metric of institutional performance that is continuously tracked. . . . The core principle of the Diversity Scorecard is that evidence (i.e., factual data) about the state of equity in educational outcomes for African Americans and Latinos can have a powerful effect on increasing the recognition by faculty members, administrators, counselors, and others about the existence of inequities as well as their motivation to resolve them. That is, in order to bring about institutional change, individuals have to see, on their own, as clearly as possible, the magnitude of inequities, rather than having researchers, like us, tell them that they exist.”

For more on the diversity scorecard, see E. M. Bensimon, D. Polkinghorne, and G. Bauman, “The Accountability Side of Diversity,” Diversity Digest 7 (July 2003): 1–2, www.diversityweb.org/Digest/vol7no1-2/bensimon.cfm.



Bensimon, E. M. 2004. The diversity scorecard: A learning approach to institutional change. Change (January/ February): 44–52.

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