In August 2016, MSU President Waded Cruzado charged the university community to develop a Diversity and Inclusion Framework that would be infused into the updated Montana State University strategic plan, Mountains and Minds: Learners and Leaders. An external, independent consultant with expertise in diversity planning, a visiting ACE fellow with extensive organizational knowledge, and an Advisory Committee of MSU faculty, students and staff were appointed by President Cruzado to carry out this charge.


The current Montana State University Diversity Framework builds on a foundation of institutional values and accomplishments that have been established over many years through the work of students, faculty and staff committed to broadening and strengthening diversity. 

For example, MSU Presidents have been advised by a Council of Elders since 2004 regarding the university’s educational commitments to the descendants of the state’s First Peoples. Also, The Council of American Indian Programs (CAIP), formerly known as Indian Program Directors, is a collaborative group comprised of staff and faculty dedicated to American Indian student recruitment and retention. The ADVANCE Project TRACS grant has received acclaim from publications like the “Chronicle of Higher Education,” celebrating successes in innovative hiring practices that help diversify faculty hires in STEM and promote work-life integration. Among student-led efforts is the Sustained Dialogue program which creates opportunities for students to engage in meaningful conversations around identity and inclusion. The Veteran Support Center has been recognized for providing resources and a supportive environment to promote success for veterans and their families at Montana State University. 

These are some of many examples that have laid the groundwork for Montana State University to be able to engage in critical and intentional conversations about the direction of diversity and inclusion efforts and where we want to be as a diverse institution in the future.

President's Statement

Dear MSU Community,

It is with great pleasure that I share with you Montana State University’s Diversity and Inclusion Framework report, the results of the work accomplished during the academic year 2016-17 on developing the first Diversity and Inclusion Plan for Montana State University.


When we began this process during the fall of 2016, we were inspired by our history and our legacy as a public, land-grant university. Historical records evince that, before President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act of 1862 into the law creating the public land-grant university system, higher education was an exclusive and socially homogeneous endeavor. With the Morrill Act, higher education opened its doors to the sons and daughters of the working families of every state and territory in the Union. 

The act’s namesake, Vermont Senator Justin Morrill had successfully argued that higher education should not be denied based on race, however, his victory was not complete: the South chose to create black-only colleges and universities rather than integrate. In 1890, the Second Land-Grant Act was passed, which began the process of making higher education available to African Americans. It would take many more generations before this racial barrier was broken down, but Morrill set the nation on an important path of embracing diversity in education.

Over one hundred years later, Congress passed the Third Land-Grant Act, conferring that designation to 29 tribal colleges and universities. Thanks to the leadership of then MSU President Michael Malone, this piece of legislation extended this designation to the First Peoples of our nation, and, with them, seven colleges in Montana. In fact, the state of Montana holds the honor of having the largest number of land-grant institutions in the nation. 


Our nation’s understanding and definition of diversity has evolved and will continue to do so. The same is true for Montana State University. It is necessary work. Cultures and economies are more porous than ever. 

In the future, very few of our graduates will spend their lives working and living in communities where everyone is just like them. That will be the exception. The rule will be communities and workplaces that are rich blends of people from different countries, races, religions, sexual orientations and identities, gender identities and expressions, ages, political affiliations, and other facets of diversity. By discussing, embracing, working on, and fostering diversity on our campus we enrich the lives of our students and prepare them for the world.

Our efforts this past year provide an important framework for addressing the needs of diverse students, faculty and staff and for preparing all students to work in a diverse world based on five major goals identified by our campus community. As the university updates its strategic plan just in time for our 125th Anniversary, the diversity and inclusion framework will be an important guide and resource. The framework reaffirms Montana State University’s mission as a welcoming and inclusive campus.

I am very proud we have worked together as a community to discuss diversity. It is important that we continue to work together on this issue. With history as our guide, we know that we will never arrive at a place where we can rest and say, “Our work is done.” Our work is a continuous conversation that must be nurtured by our collective efforts.

My deep thanks to all the students, faculty, staff , alumni, emeriti and community members who took their time to be involved in these efforts. We have reason to be proud about the depth and civility of our discussions as well as about the impact our work.

Waded Cruzado, President


Friends in front of Jabs Hall

Throughout the year, there were various opportunities for the community to engage in structured discussions about diversity and inclusion at MSU to move the plan forward. Stakeholder groups were invited to both become involved with the planning process and to encourage their constituents to participate in the institutional efforts. Individual academic colleges and units hosted discussions about ways that diversity work impacts their roles. Online forums were available for employees and community members who were not able to physically attend the summits and charrette.

These discussions laid the foundation for the first “Diversity Summit,” which was held November 1, 2016. Members of the MSU community were invited to attend a half-day session to explore possible meanings of diversity and to determine which guiding principles should inform an institutional diversity plan. With over 400 faculty, staff and students in attendance, the first Diversity Summit allowed themes to emerge from the community including the need for an updated diversity statement and a common understanding of the benefits of increasing diversity within the context of Montana State University.

“Diversity Summit Phase II” occurred on February 2, 2017, with over 300 participants attending a half-day session. An evening meeting specifically for students was held in order to welcome more student perspectives and feedback. Phase II was an active working session focused on revising the draft of the campus diversity statement, vision, principles, over-arching goals and strategies around diversity and inclusion work. Information gathered from the summit was analyzed by the advisory group. Broad themes emerged that were integrated into the diversity goals and strategies drafted by a writing team comprised of members of the Advisory Committee.

These goals and strategies were presented to the community at the Diversity Charrette on April 12, 2017. The charrette was a day-long open meeting for all stakeholders to provide feedback, generate solutions and review the goals and strategies that resulted from input throughout the process. Over 200 faculty, staff and students attended the charrette, adding comments to the content provided, discussing challenges and opportunities of diversity work, and reflecting on the goals and strategies put forth. The ideas that emerged through the Diversity Summits, department/college retreats, small meetings, one-on-one conversations and student forums all contributed to the development of the materials shared at the Charrette.


The outcome of these activities is a Diversity and Inclusion Framework, which you will find on the pages that follow. The Framework includes a revised Diversity Statement as well as diversity and inclusion goals and strategies. 


The Diversity and Inclusion Framework is comprised of the campus community’s ideas which emerged from a year of open discussions and critical thought. The Advisory Committee’s goal is that every member of the MSU community will incorporate these ideas into their daily work and measure progress annually since it is a living document. Each member of our community has a responsibility and a unique opportunity to continue to make MSU a more inclusive place. Thank you to all who contributed time and effort to the development of the Diversity and Inclusion Framework. The following includes the new diversity statement and vision, and the diversity and inclusion goals and strategies.

Montana State University Diversity Statement and Vision

Statement: To acknowledge and honor the tradition of the land-grant university, Montana State University is committed to developing and sustaining a culture of inclusion, social justice and diversity.

Vision: We believe that excellence at Montana State University is best achieved through a culture of intellectual and personal growth that is diverse and inclusive.

walking to class

Montana State University is located on the original homelands of Native peoples and acknowledging this rich history is central to our commitment to learning from the past. We prioritize efforts that create and support diverse working, teaching, learning and research environments and opportunities for the people who make up our community. We create an environment that welcomes, respects and nurtures all students, staff and faculty. We cultivate this inclusive environment by respecting and celebrating the diverse dimensions of people’s identities, particularly as those identities intersect in complex ways. We will continuously promote a culture of intellectual and personal growth for all, attuned to the importance of differences in age, race, ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic status, sex, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability status, religion and spirituality.

Montana State University Diversity and Inclusion Goals and Strategies

Theme: Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations

Goal: Create a civil, supportive and respectful environment where difference is a source of strength.

A. Implement and invest in collaborative, creative programs, speakers and events to improve campus climate for diverse students, faculty, staff, community constituents and campus guests.
B. Evaluate spaces on campus to increase visibility of services and representations of diverse identities and ways of being.
C. Invest in and showcase artwork that highlights diverse ways of being.
D. Consider providing resources to units that are currently addressing diversity work, such as the Center for Faculty Excellence, the Council of American Indian Programs, the Diversity Awareness Office, the Office of Institutional Equity, the Office of International Programs, Veterans Services, the President’s Commission on the Status of University Women (PCOSUW) and the Women’s Center.
E. Consider providing resources to departments addressing diversity and inclusion topics in the curriculum.
F. Create physical and intellectual spaces in which students, staff and faculty can engage in dialogue to develop a deeper understanding of identity, strengthen a sense of belonging for those from underrepresented groups, learn skills for resolving interpersonal conflict and create positive social change.
G. Consider providing resources for mentoring and networking programs that unite people with underrepresented identities in meaningful ways to reduce feelings of isolation.
H. Regularly assess campus climate through formal surveys, intentional small group discussions, unit self-studies and/or focus groups to monitor and respond to climate issues. Disseminate results of a biannual campus climate assessment. Continue to hold diversity summits in the fall and spring.
I. Include gender-neutral bathrooms and family care-room spaces in all new buildings and renovation projects.
J. Improve accessibility for people with disabilities to campus resources, all buildings, facilities and digital material.
K. Foster and support affinity groups for diverse students, faculty and staff.

Theme: Education and Scholarship

Goal: Equip students, faculty, and staff with the knowledge, experience and competencies necessary to eradicate biases and discrimination and to be successful in a multicultural, international, pluralistic society.

A. Develop and implement educational and co-curricular practices, programs, initiatives, training and courses that increase cultural attunement, foster self-exploration, improve understanding of diversity issues, promote meaningful engagement with those from different contexts/backgrounds, and prepare students for diverse living, learning and work environments.
B. Develop and implement professional development and workshop opportunities for Montana State University leadership and administrators, inclusive of faculty and staff that promote cultural attunement.
C. Evaluate Diversity Core classes and consider creating a “diversity across the curriculum” initiative.
D. Continue to invest in initiatives to sustain bias literacy training for all major decision making committees on campus including: search committees, salary committees, promotion and tenure committees.
E. Ensure scholarship and awards are distributed equitably.
F. Given funding availability and student demand, grow faculty lines in areas that produce innovative and nationally recognized research and scholarship on topics of social justice, identity or inclusion.
G. Support service learning, faculty-led travel and exchange/study abroad experiences within the U.S. and internationally.
H. Develop curricula for inside and outside of the classroom that foster cultural competency and different ways of knowing.
I. Expand research, travel and professional development resources
for students, staff and faculty from diverse demographic groups and abilities.
J. Increase faculty preparedness and competency with teaching students about diversity and creating inclusive learning environments.
K. Embed inclusion and diversity themes in orientation programs, on-boarding curricula and professional development activities.
L. Infuse diversity into student leadership development, service and co-curricular activities.

Theme: Access and Success

Goal: Recruit, promote the success of, and foster a sense of security and belonging for a diverse student body, faculty and staff.

A. Actively recruit, retain and advance a diverse community of faculty, staff and students with a special emphasis on underrepresented minorities.
B. Provide bridge funding to make competitive offers to outstanding dual-career hires.
C. Provide bridge funding for target-of-opportunity hires for people who are part of an underutilized or underrepresented group.
D. Provide resources to address gender and race gaps in salary.
E. Monitor faculty, students and staff retention and advancement by gender, race and ethnicity (and other disenfranchised groups as possible) and take necessary steps to achieve equity.
F. Establish resources for students, faculty and staff with family needs.
G. Continue to work on scholarship and financial aid programs to ensure that a Montana State University education is accessible to underrepresented students.
H. Consider aligning merit and reward structures with inclusion values by incorporating policies and practices that recognize contributions tied to diversity in leadership, service and scholarship.

Theme: Leadership and Accountability

Goal: Provide strong, active and visible leadership for diversity, equity and inclusion.

A. Create a new senior level full-time position dedicated to leading diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across campus.
B. Conduct an assessment of existing resources and infrastructure
to identify visible space that will maximize delivery of services for constituents and serve as a resource for the campus community.
C. Sustain the University Equity Advocate Program.
D. Sustain the University Family Advocate Program.
E. Formalize an Advisory Group that will evaluate, revise and recommend policies and practices that go beyond compliance and remove inequitable barriers as well as enhance the lives of diverse campus community members.
F. Provide opportunities for leadership training, support and professional advancement of diverse faculty and staff.
G. Implement a system of analytics and metrics to assess progress toward diversity plan goals. An example could also include a diversity section in yearly performance evaluations.

Theme: Communication

Goal: Increase the campus community’s and general public’s appreciation for the value of diversity at Montana State University through active communication to highlight underrepresented people.

A. Develop and implement a communication strategy that will include, but not be limited to, the preparation, distribution and evaluation of press releases and marketing materials that include and explain the contributions of diverse faculty, staff and students to MSU.
B. Evaluate and update centralized websites to ensure diverse representation and communicate a shared understanding of social justice, diversity, inclusion and equity.
C. Provide transparent data on diversity related demographics
and outcomes.
D. Celebrate and make visible the achievements and contributions of diverse faculty and staff, students and alumni.
E. Clearly communicate Montana State University’s commitment to and services supporting diversity at student, faculty and staff orientations.
F. Clearly communicate Montana State University’s commitment to supporting diversity to alumni.

Food Bazaar


We are excited that the Diversity and Inclusion process has resulted in several opportunities for campus-wide input, yielding a revised diversity statement and newly developed diversity goals and strategies, all of which are reflective of the Montana State University community’s values on diversity. 
As indicated in the initial charge, these recommendations will be infused into Montana State University’s strategic plan. The hope is that the framework serves as a model and guide for individual units across the university and that members of the community continue to engage in the process of operationalizing the ambitions, approaches, recommendations and considerations presented in this framework.


The following recommendations include short and longer term strategies to intentionally continue discussions regarding accountability and what it means to be successful in fulfilling our mission of inclusiveness. We are emphasizing the following as core recommendations:

A. Create an executive administrator position with university-wide influence to ensure coordination and oversight of all diversity and inclusion work, programs and activities. The position will have appropriate authority, recognition and visibility to provide effective leadership.
B. Develop a timeline for implementing the strategies with measurable progress beginning during the 2017-2018 academic year.
C. Implement a system of analytics and metrics to assess progress toward diversity plan goals.
D. Formalize the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, reflective of broader representation.
E. Incorporate the goals and strategies into Montana State University’s strategic plan.
F. Conduct Campus Climate Surveys and/or Focus Group activities on a regularly cyclical basis and provide resources for the studies/activities and the implementation for improvements.
G. Clearly communicate Montana State University’s commitment to and services supporting the diversity mission to students, faculty, staff and external community.

Advisory Group of Montana State University faculty, students and staff was appointed by President Cruzado. 
The members of the Advisory Group are:

Dr. Rusty Barceló, Co-Lead, Special Assistant to the President Rebecca Belou, Research Analyst, MSU Office of Planning & Analysis 
Ariel Donohue, Director, MSU Diversity Awareness Office
Adam Edelman, Associate Chief Information Officer, MSU University Information Technology
Ryan Erickson, MSU Graduate Assistant, LGBTQ Student Support, MSU Diversity Awareness Office
Dr. David DiMaria, Associate Provost, MSU Office of International Programs
Kade Falls Down, Student, MSU Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship 
Dr. Walter Fleming, Department Head, MSU Native American Studies Program 
Dr. Eric López, Co-Lead, ACE Fellow
DeNarius McGhee, Quarterback Coach, Bobcat Athletics 
Dr. Helen Melland, Dean, MSU College of Nursing
Dr. Mary Miles, Professor, MSU Health & Human Development 
Ricardo Sanon, Athletic Academic Coordinator, MSU Athletics Department 
Jyl Shaffer, Director, MSU Office of Institutional Equity
Dr. Jessi Smith, Professor, MSU Psychology Department 
Francine Spang-Willis, Program Manager, MSU American Indian/Alaskan Native Student Success Services

List of Diversity Resources/Offices
*Please note: Not an all-inclusive list

ADVANCE · Dr. Jessi Smith, Director 
AGEP-T: Pacific Northwest Collaborative Opportunities for Success in Mentoring of Students (PNW-COSMOS) · Drs. Karlene Hoo, Carrie Myers, & Sweeny Windchief, Co-PIs
Council of American Indian Programs · Francine Spang-Willis & Julian Collins, Co-Chairs 
Caring for Our Own Program (CO-OP) · Brian King, Associate Director 
Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity (CAIRHE) Dr. Alexandra Adams, Director/PI 
EMPower Program · Amy Stix, Director 
IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence · Dr. Brian Bothner, Director/PI 
MSU TRIO Student Support Services · Julian Collins, Director 
Native American Studies, American Indian/Alaska Native Student Success Services · Dr. Walter Fleming, Department Head 
The Center for Bilingual and Multicultural Education · Dr. Jioanna Carjuzaa, Executive Director 
Disability, Re-Entry and Veteran Services · Joe Schumacher, Director 
Diversity Awareness Office · Ariel Donohue, Director
Office of Planning & Analysis · Dr. Chris Fastnow, Director 
Office of Institutional Equity · Jyl Shaffer, Director and Title IX Coordinator 
Office of International Programs · Dr. I. Miley Gonzalez, Interim Associate Provost 
President’s Commission on the Status of University Women ·  Camie Bechtold & Dr. Tracy Sterling, Co-Chairs 
The Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership (SIGP) ·Drs. Karlene Hoo & Sweeney Windchief, Co-PIs 

View the Diversity and Inclusion Framework as PDF.