The USC Equity Institutes is an eight-week professional learning series for 20 leaders and/or faculty members on a single college or university campus. Each Institute has eight virtual modules that are taught synchronously one day each week. Using webcams, one expert instructor from the USC Race and Equity Center and the 20 participants engage together on our virtual learning platform for 2 hours, all at the same time.

USC Race and Equity Center staff and faculty affiliates, as well as highly respected scholars in our national network, teach the weekly modules.

To apply to the program, sign up at:

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The USC Equity Institute leverages the expertise of the USC Race and Equity Center researchers and faculty affiliates, as well as highly experienced and respected scholars and practitioners in our network, to support senior administrative leaders from the same campus in:

  • Exploring topics, frameworks, evidence-based readings, books, and practical tools on racial equity; 
  • Creating spaces for colleagues to talk honestly with each other about seemingly explosive racial topics;
  • Cultivating cohorts of race-conscious, equity-minded colleagues and collaborators; and
  • Strategically achieving racial equity goals.


Foundations in Racial Equity

(*REC 700) Foundations of Racial Equity in Higher Education:
This module is an introduction to foundational concepts and terms pertaining to race and racial equity in higher education. We will set ground rules and community standards that will lay the foundation for the rest of the Institute. Participants will engage in identity exploration and the mapping of identity salience. Participants are also introduced to a range of racial trends at postsecondary institutions across the nation and afforded opportunities to juxtapose those with racial realities on their campus.

(*REC 701) Talking about Race, Racism, and Racial Inequities:
This module teaches leaders how to raise race questions; productively lead race-related conversations with their leadership teams and the broader campus; mediate tensions that arise in conversations about racist structures, cultures, policies, and norms; and talk honestly about data that show racial inequities between groups. Participants also develop a broader anti-racist vocabulary.

Race-Conscious Leadership

(REC 702) Race-Conscious Leadership in Higher Education:
This module focuses on what race-conscious leaders do to advance racial equity, questions they ask, data sources on which they rely, and relationships they foster with racially diverse stakeholders on campus. Also discussed are the benefits of leading with a high level of consciousness and threats of attempting to lead without consciousness of racial realities at their institutions.

(REC 703) Race-Conscious Enrollment Management:
This module focuses on developing strategies and innovative approaches to recruiting and enrolling students of color. Some attention is also paid to understanding affirmative action policies and the legal parameters of race-conscious admissions practices. Also provided are case examples from institutions that significantly increased their enrollment of students of color.

(REC 704) Advancing Racial Equity In Mostly White Contexts:
This module is for leaders on campuses with little racial diversity, as well as those who serve on mostly or exclusively White leadership teams. Participants will deepen understandings around foundational principles with respect to institutional commitments to racial equity. In addition, participants will deepen understandings around the experiences of students, staff, faculty and administrators of color on PWIs. And finally, participants will continue to build their knowledge, skills, and dispositions as leaders for racial equity on their PWI.

(REC 705) Advancing Racial Equity in a Majority-Minority Context:
Presently, a growing number of colleges and universities are majority-minority institutions, many of which are recognized as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). While people of color may be in the majority at a college, institutional norms often continue to operate from structures of Whiteness, from what is taught in the classroom and the co-curriculum, to the standards for tenure and promotion. Special attention will be paid to intra- and inter-group conflict, across communities of color, within this unique institutional context.

(REC 706) Leading in Moments of Racial Crisis: Part 1:
Racist incidents are a frequent occurrence on college and university campuses. However, many institutional leaders remain unsure and underprepared to respond in moments of racial crises. Through this 2-part module, college and university administrators will learn how to 1) appropriately assess and accurately appraise the severity of racial incidents; 2) develop rapid response protocols in addressing racial crises; 3) explore ways to collectively engage with the campus community to generate solutions; and 4) rehearse race-conscious responses to case studies of campus racial incidents.

(REC 707) Leading in Moments of Racial Crisis: Part 2:
Building upon the foundation provided in Part I of this module, Part II focuses on providing institutional leaders with specific anti-racist language and communications strategies to effectively navigate common pitfalls when engaging college and university communities, as well as broader publics (e.g., press conferences and statements to media), both during or immediately following racial crises.

(REC 708) Understanding Campus Unrest and Responding Student Protest:
This module assists campus leaders in understanding campus unrest and responding to the student protestors in three tactical ways: 1) meaningful acknowledgement of campus racial, gender, religious, and other inequities; 2) allocation of institutional resources and relevant support to ensure student safety and facilitate the political practice of protest; and 3) work with students in a timely manner to manage and address student protestors’ demands.

Assessment and Evaluation

(REC 709) Using Assessment and Evaluation to Improve Campus Racial Climates:
Research has consistently shown that hostile racial campus climates hinder the academic performance and sense of belonging among racially minoritized students. This module will provide practical strategies (including assessment and evaluation) that can be utilized by various institutional leaders and engaged practitioners to improve the experiences of racially minoritized students across different sectors of the institution (e.g. classrooms, residence halls, and student organizations).

(REC 710) Assessing Racial Equity Through Disaggregating Data:
Through this module, university and college administrators, faculty, and other campus leaders will learn how to articulate a compelling rationale for disaggregating campus data to identify racial and ethnic inequities, gain tools for how to identify and leverage existing campus data sources, and identify strategies to appropriately and effectively showcase disaggregated data. Black, Asian/Asian American, Latinx, Native American, and Pacific Islander are not monolithic racial categories and need specific interventions and nuanced support.

(REC 711) Making Racial Equity Data Transparent:
Transparency in sharing disaggregated data is an essential facet of racially equitable practices in the college or university environment. In this module, participants will explore examples of data dashboards, learn how to make their data understandable and accessible, and identify opportunity gaps in student success and engagement. Participants in this module will move beyond simply posting the data to concrete ways to use data as a catalyst for change and to construct racial equity goals that are context-specific.

Teaching and Learning

(REC 712) Understanding and Navigating Identity as Faculty:
This module explores aspects of identity related to social positions of power, privilege, and subordination. Specifically, faculty and other administrative leaders will learn to 1) recognize and respect these aspects of identity in themselves and others; 2) identify their own identity-based blind spots and vantage points related to pedagogy, advising, research, and other professional practices; and 3) embed this awareness into their classroom and advising practices with the intention of advancing racial equity

(REC 713) Creating Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Classrooms:
This module trains faculty and other teaching and learning professionals to 1) understand the foundations of culturally responsive and culturally sustaining curricula; 2) learn methods to critically review their own curricula and curriculum-building practices; and 3) use equity-minded pedagogical lenses to revise existing or produce new course curricula.

(REC 714) Microaggressions And Stereotype Threat: Navigating Invisible Racism In The Classroom:
This module will educate and prepare faculty to identify and combat racial stereotype threat and microaggressions in the classroom. First, attendees will engage in a series of activities aimed at identifying classroom interactions and incidents that can foster stereotype threat, which can often be exacerbated by microaggressions. To that end, this module will also present the academic and psychological consequences of classroom microaggressions and the instructional imperative behind reducing microaggressions in learning environments. Participants will ultimately be equipped with the skills to respond to stereotype threat and microaggressions in the classroom.

(REC 715) Inclusive Pedagogy and Classroom Transformation:
Through this module, faculty, department chairs, and deans will explore empowering teaching practices, including inclusive pedagogy and culturally relevant curriculum, to address the needs of students from a multitude of identities. Identity differences between instructor and students will be discussed. Participants will also explore ways to structurally transform the classroom to maintain an inclusive learning environment for all students.

(REC 716) Classroom Incivility and Productive Conversations about Race:
Through this module, faculty will explore how to productively tackle the topic of race in college and university classrooms. Discussions concerning race are often challenging and controversial; however, it is vital that faculty do not shy away from these opportunities, and are instead prepared to facilitate critical discussions about race and racism in a classroom setting. Faculty will also learn strategies to avoid offensive rhetoric and personal attacks throughout the discussion by establishing a shared understanding of classroom expectations with their students.

Human Resources Management

(REC 717) Reducing Implicit Bias in the Search and Hiring Process:
Through this module, faculty and other potential members of search and hiring committees will be able to define, recognize, and name implicit bias and its consequences, and actively engage in research-tested practices that prevent implicit bias in the search and hiring processes.

(REC 718) Recruiting and Selection of Professionals of Color:
Higher education’s history of institutionalized racism has prevented the recruitment and selection of employees of color. Furthermore, it has kept most people of color employed by the university in staff and facilities roles (e.g. dining services, janitorial, etc.). Through this exercise, participants will be exposed to various strategies that can be utilized to recruit employees of color into decision making positions.

(REC 719) Retention and Advancement of Professionals of Color:
This module focuses on the mentoring, retention, and advancement of people of color across the institution, once they are hired. Participants in this module will engage in learning about and designing mentoring and reward structures, as well as feedback systems, that are not normed in Whiteness. Institutional leaders will have the opportunity to think critically about how they can ensure their campuses provide rich support for employees of color to thrive.

(REC 721) Relationships of Power and Reducing Abuse of Power in the Workplace:
In this module, participants will take an intersectional lens to substantively alter their understanding of how structural and personal power can manifest in the workplace. For example, the power to exclude or to demean a woman of color’s work in a racially and gendered coded way if often not intentional, and yet, has deep consequences. Participants will learn key strategies to identify and reduce gendered and raced power asymmetries.

(REC 722) Cultivating a Local Pipeline for Diverse Institutional Leadership:
Administrators and campus leaders have a rich opportunity to cultivate leadership among talented people of color from within the organization. Participants in this module will engage in critical reflection about learned values regarding achievement and meritocracy, as these oft-unspoken values can be barriers to equitable change and progress. Participants will also examine the culture and cultural practices of the campus through reflexive questioning. What is the system and structure of rewards and recognition? Whose labor is valued and how? Institutional leaders will also learn about departmental diversity audits and promising practices in mentoring staff and faculty of color.

Strategy and Accountability

(REC 723) Accountability And Incentivization For Improving And Advancing Equity Goals:
Racial equity goals will only be achieved in a culture of evidence and accountability. In this module, participants will learn strategic ways to hold offices and departments accountable to improving and advancing the community’s racial equity goals. Participants will explore examples of tying goals to performance appraisals, making departmental and office goals written, public, and transparent, and establishing incentive and reward structures that encourage campus stakeholders to strive for goal completion.

(REC 724) Strategic Planning and Action for Racial Equity:
Through this module, university and college administrators, faculty, and other campus leaders will learn key steps to strategically plan and execute actionable goals to enhance racial equity at their respective campuses. Designed for those who have not embarked upon a D&I; strategic planning process yet.

(REC 725) Messaging Commitment to Racial Equity and Inclusion:
Through this module, university and college administrators and other campus leaders will learn how to effectively communicate their commitments to equity and inclusion on their respective campuses. We will also explore how to uphold these commitments through institutional transparency and a persistent dedication to actionable goals.

(REC 727) Communicating Institutional Progress on Racial Equity Goals:
This module is designed for participants in institutions that have conducted a rigorous campus climate assessment. Telling the story of progress is critically important. Institutional participants in this module will name their desired racial equity outcomes and learn the skills to highlight movement achieved on identifying and tackling racial inequities. Participants will also learn how to scaffold their racial equity goals in order to make progress manageable and how to tell the story of small (and big) wins in a meaningful way

Contemporary Issues

(REC 728) “But I’m Not A Racist!”: Navigating The Defensive Emotions Of Campus Racial Conflict:
The ability to reduce defensiveness, hear feedback, separate it from rhetoric, and take ownership over behavioral changes is a powerful, but overlooked, leadership tool. However, navigating the charge of “racism” can be difficult and personally challenging. Participants in this module will learn about the framework of White Fragility and what to do (and what not to do) when receiving feedback around racism or racist actions.

(REC 729) Dismantling Persistent Racial Equity Problems in STEM:
Through this module, faculty, administrators, and staff in STEM will learn about on-going inequities found across STEM fields (e.g. access to educational programs, inequities in income opportunities for underrepresented groups, disparities for women of color, etc.). Participants will then learn about specific practices that they can employ within their respective roles to disrupt and dismantle local systems of oppression that are responsible for reproducing such inequities.

(REC 730) Identifying, Understanding, and Confronting Implicit Bias:
Through this module, institutional leaders across the university will learn about implicit biases, (e.g. where they come from and how they are generated) and the various ways they are manifested and develop actionable plans to challenge and strategically deal with such biases across different contexts.

(REC 731) Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and Othering:
Through this module, collegiate officials will investigate the detrimental impacts of xenophobia, Islamophobia, and othering on college and university campuses. In response to the current political climate, it is important that university leaders develop strategies to combat the oppressive ideologies that have infiltrated academic discourse and maintain an inclusive environment for students from all religious backgrounds and homelands.

(REC 732) Cultivating Trans Inclusive Campus Environments:
College campuses have traditionally been spaces that center White, middle class, heterosexual, and cisgender bodies and experiences. Trans, gender queer, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students are some of the fastest growing student populations. This module will discuss various practices that specific departments and the larger campus community can engage in to create more welcoming and inclusive environments for students from gender minoritized backgrounds, particularly by understanding the heterogeneity across their social identities.


Alfreda Brown
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
Kent State University

Ali Michael
Director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators
Race Institute for K-12 Educators

Alma Clayton-Pedersen
CEO, Emeritus Consulting Group
Association of American Colleges and Universities

Art Munin
Associate Vice Chancellor & Dean of Students
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Becky Wai-Ling Packard
Mount Holyoke College

Benjamin Reese
Former Vice President for Institutional Equity
and Chief Diversity Officer
Duke University

Brandi P. Jones
Vice Dean for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives
University of Southern California

Brian Peterson
Director, Makuu Black Cultural Center
University of Pennsylvania

Brighid Dwyer
Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion
Princeton University

Carl S. Moore
Assistant Chief Academic Officer
(Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs)
University of the District of Columbia

Cecilia Orphan
Assistant Professor
University of Denver

Christine Quemuel
Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity
University of Hawai’i, Manoa

Christine Stanley
Texas A&M University

Christopher Nellum
Senior Director, Higher Education
Research and Policy
The Education Trust – West

Colleen Lewis
Assistant Professor
University of Illinois

Constanza Cabello
Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion &
Community Engagement
Framingham State University

Daniella Ann Cook
Associate Professor, Department of Instruction & Teacher Education
College of Education

Darryl Yong
Harvey Mudd College

Daryl G. Smith
Senior Research Fellow and Professor Emerita of
Education and Psychology
Claremont Graduate University

David Earl Jones
Chief Diversity Officer and
Director of Talent Management
William Paterson University

David Horton
Associate Professor
Ohio University

DeAngela Burns-Wallace, Ed. D.
Acting Secretary
Kansas Department of Administration

Donnell Butler
Senior Associate Dean for Planning and Analysis of Student Outcomes
Franklin and Marshall College

Francisco Rios
Dean, Woodring College of Education
Western Washington University

Frank Harris III
Professor and Co-Director, Community College
Equity Assessment Lab
San Diego State University

James Soto Antony
Director, Higher Education Program
Harvard University

James T. Minor
Assistant Vice Chancellor
California State University System

Jerlando F.L. Jackson
Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Julie J. Park
Associate Professor
University of Maryland

Julie Posselt
Associate Professor
University of Southern California

Karlene Burrell-McRae
Dean of the College
Colby College

Kelly Mack
Vice President for Undergraduate STEM
Association of American Colleges and Universities

Kenechukwu (K.C.) Mmeje
Vice President for Student Affairs
Southern Methodist University

Kevin McDonald
Vice President for Diversity,
Equity, and Inclusion
University of Virginia

Kimberly A. Griffin
Associate Professor
University of Maryland

Kristan Venegas
Associate Dean of Faculty, La Fetra
College of Education
University of La Verne

Lori S. White
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Washington University in St. Louis

Marco Barker
Vice Chancellor, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
University of Nebraska Lincoln

Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi
Vice Provost, Chief Diversity and Community
Engagement Officer
University of San Francisco

Michele Minter
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity
Princeton University

Minh C. Tran
Director of Curriculum and Academic Enrichment
University of California, Los Angeles

Mitchell J. Chang
University of California, Los Angeles

Monique Snowden
Provost and Senior Vice President
Fielding Graduate University

Nolan Cabrera
Associate Professor
University of Arizona

Nooshin Valizadeh
Adjunct Professor
University of Southern California

Ontario Wooden
Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovative,
Engaged and Global Education
North Carolina Central University

Roderick Labrador
Associate Professor and Academic Advisor,
Department of Ethnic Studies
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Ryan J. Davis
Associate Vice President of
Institutional Equity and Diversity
Brown University

Shá Duncan Smith
Assistant Vice President and Dean of Inclusive
and Community Development

Shaun R. Harper
Provost Professor and USC Race and Equity
Center Executive Director
University of Southern California

Shigeru Sakurai
LGBT Equity Center Director
University of Maryland

Stephen John Quaye
Associate Professor
Ohio State University

Sumun L. Pendakur
Chief Learning Officer and USC Equity Institutes,
University of Southern California

Susan M. Klusmeier
Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies
University of Kansas

Susan Marine
Associate Professor
Merrimack College

Susana Muñoz
Assistant Professor
Colorado State University

Tabbye Chavous
Professor and Director, National Center for
Institutional Diversity
University of Michigan

Taffye Benson Clayton
Vice President and Associate Provost
Auburn University

Thai-Huy Nguyen
Assistant Professor, College of Education
Seattle University

Tia Brown McNair
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Student
Association of American Colleges and Universities

Tiffany Jones
Director of Higher Education Policy
The Education Trust

Toby S. Jenkins
Associate Professor and Director, Museum of
University of South Carolina

Vijay Pendakur
Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of
Cornell University

Yvonne Romero da Silva
Vice President for Enrollment
Rice University


“USC’s Equity Institute model inspired important racial equity discussions and moved the learning meter on equity related topics for participants on our campus. The equity-based learning modules offered innovative approaches to inclusion and diversity organizational learning and were presented with clarity and depth by content experts and leaders in higher education. Faculty and administrators gained insight from instructors, while discussing and engaging relevant topics and scenarios with colleagues in real time. The USC Equity Institute is an impactful modern strategy for any Chief Diversity Officer or institution seeking to provide high-quality, rich content, equity-focused learning for faculty and administrator leaders on campus.”

Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton
Vice President and Associate Provost/CDO
Auburn University

“As the inaugural chief diversity officer, I turned to the USC Equity Institutes, for I believe that it would help our institution create solutions to the opportunity areas we as a community identified as needing action. We found our experience to be extremely beneficial in learning more about ourselves and how we can best serve our institution. The lessons learned have been valuable more than ever as we now begin the creation of our college’s first Diversity Strategic Plan and the tools needed to complete this task have been sharpened due to the USC Equity Institute.”

Scott J. Blair, M.Ed.
Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator
Northampton Community College

“The USC Equity Institute was critical for us on the heels of August 2017 and the one year anniversary of the same. The program allowed us to bring the three local law enforcement agency leadership teams together along with faculty from UVA. The work we did in the program was emotional, perspective changing, and helped us steer a culture change within our teams. We are getting ready to begin work on our Race Equity Project along with the support of faculty and researchers here at UVA.”

Gloria Graham
Associate Vice-President for Safety and Security
University of Virginia

“The USC Equity Institute was critical for us on the heels of August 2017 and the one year anniversary of the same. The program allowed us to bring the three local law enforcement agency leadership teams together along with faculty from UVA. The work we did in the program was emotional, perspective changing, and helped us steer a culture change within our teams. We are getting ready to begin work on our Race Equity Project along with the support of faculty and researchers here at UVA.”

Gloria Graham
Associate Vice-President for Safety and Security
University of Virginia

“The USC Equity Institute assisted in message elevation and translation of institutional inclusion, equity and diversity initiatives. The activities, and those involved, brought visibility to micro and macro interactions where race is a factor in individual and institutional success.”

Dr. Malika Carter
Chief Diversity Officer
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

“Participating in the USC Race and Equity Institute has pushed our institution to develop a more nuanced understanding of the field of racial inequity studies. The Institute helped participants think through the intersectionality of inequity, as well as the ways that inequity can be embedded in institutional policies, procedures and practices. Perhaps more importantly, the Institute’s design, which urges participants to collaborate on actions steps to address inequity, has sharpened our understanding of the value of partnerships when leveraging opportunities for institutional change.”

Dr. Amoaba Gooden
Chair and Associate Professor
Department of Pan-African Studies
Kent State University


The cost of the USC Equity Institutes for the 2022-2023 year will be $40,000 for up to 20 participants.

Institute participants receive individual, authentic University of Southern California Rossier School of Education executive leadership certificates, signed by the Center Executive Director and the Equity Institutes Director, upon completion of eight virtual modules.


Learners: Senior level administrators
# of participants: Cohort of 20-22
Pace and length: 1 module per week for 8 weeks
Format: 2 hour synchronous, virtual modules via Zoom meeting
Key Elements:
  • Developing shared understanding of racial equity on your campus
  • Team building
  • Racial equity goal setting
Cost: $40,000
To Apply: Submit Intake Form by November 1, 2022 for Spring 2023

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