Action and Understanding

View of USD campus from Tecolote Canyon


In the spring of 2021, the University of San Diego announced the Horizon Project, an initiative designed to move USD into the forefront of Catholic higher education by following Pope Francis’ guidance that as a Catholic community we must be more “open, expansive and welcoming.”

The project’s goals are ambitious but achievable: By the fall of 2026, the university  will be recognized as a Hispanic-serving institution; be one of the 100 most diverse, independent universities in the country; be a leader among our national Catholic peer universities for percentage of students of color enrolled, percentage of Black students enrolled and retention and graduation rates of students of color; and increase the number of full-time Black faculty within each of the professional schools and the College of Arts and Sciences.

USD vice provost Regina Dixon-ReevesOn August 1, Regina Dixon-Reeves, PhD (pictured) was appointed as USD’s vice provost for diversity, equity and inclusion. She comes to the university from the University of Chicago, where she served as the assistant provost in the Office of the Provost.

“In my experience, most people are genuine when they say, ‘I want diversity, I want inclusion, I want equity.’ But they don’t know how to implement it,” says Dixon-Reeves. “I have an opportunity to really help people to think about how we do this work, how we do teaching and learning with an eye toward diversity, inclusion and equity. People at USD are committed to this work; they just need some help and ideas for how it might best be done. I think I’m a really good person to do that. I’m an idea person.”

To Dixon-Reeves’ point, headway is already being made. “Over the past four years, we’ve made tremendous progress toward inclusive excellence,” says USD President James Harris, DEd. “Today, we have the most diverse student body and faculty in our history, and the Horizon Project will propel those efforts to the next level.”

A detailed online blueprint for the initiative lays out the call for action and stresses the effort will “deliberately focus our attention on three key elements to ensure we achieve inclusive excellence: people, policies and practices.”

Key elements of the “people” project goal are as follows: Recruiting and retaining a more diverse student body; recruiting, hiring and retaining more diverse faculty members, administration and staff and expanding recruitment of the diverse members of the USD Board of Trustees.

Goals of the “policies” goal include exploration of a test-blind admission policy beyond 2021, mandating campus-wide anti-racism and implicit bias training for the USD community and revising USD’s policies on hate crimes and acts of intolerance.

The “practices” goal includes development and adoption of plans for diversity and inclusive excellence by every academic and administrative unit on campus, reviewing public safety protocols and enacting best practices for working with diverse populations, and recognizing the accomplishments of USD community members who promote and enhance diversity on campus.

“The Horizon Project is a movement for stewardship and requires collective action for change,” says Harris.

And the time to continue making that change is now. — Julene Snyder

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