Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

A Message From the Chief Equity Officer

Traci D. Ellis, J.D., SHRM-SCP
Traci D. Ellis, J.D., SHRM-SCP

The Academy’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is evidenced by the Board of Trustees’ adoption of an Equity and Excellence policy. This critical policy “institutionalizes” equity work so that, regardless of leaders and other employees who may come and go, “equity”, and its attendant required outcomes, remains intact. I invite you to read our policy to understand the depth and breadth of the Academy’s focus on the “intentional integration of Cultural Competence, Diversity, Equity, Equity-Minded Frame, Excellence and Inclusion into every facet of the Academy, with the understanding that it is an active and ongoing process involving structures, processes and people and not an isolated initiative.”

The work of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is the collective work of the Academy, and we invite you to celebrate all that we have accomplished together over the last several years, as well as to get excited about all that we can accomplish… together.

This new DEI digital space documents our historical work, DEI data and resources, our current work to operationalize and implement the Equity and Excellence policy, and our future DEI efforts to  ensure the Academy has more diverse, equitable and inclusive practices and culture. In this regard, this site shows where we have been, where we currently are, and where we are going.

Creating an equity focused culture that solicits and values the talents and contributions of all people and that celebrates diversity across identity and circumstances requires that we examine ourselves through an equity lens that seeks to expose and eliminate both the known and “hidden in plain sight”, structural inequities that persist in all institutions, including ours. It is not lofty platitudes on a wall. It is action – because action is the only thing that will lead to meaningful change and a lasting impact.

In other words, as the Equity Literacy Institute cautions us, “There is no path to equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity… Equity approaches that fail to directly confront inequity play a significant role in sustaining inequity.” 

Our goal is to be a model for other organizations to end educational inequities, by eliminating racial and other equity gaps at the Academy, through strategies that dismantle systemic practices, policies, and infrastructure that are the root causes of such inequities. Left unchallenged, we cannot thrive as an academic institution of international stature. 

It is hard work. It sometimes feels elusive. But our mission, vision, and beliefs demand that we persist in aligning our work with the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. And if we are intellectually honest about our data (prioritizing both quantitative and qualitative data), willing to prioritize historically marginalized voices, willing to have “courageous conversations” with each other about inequities, and committed to taking this journey together that requires a lot of interpersonal and  systemic reflection and change, (which admittedly is uncomfortable and disconcerting at times!), we can collectively achieve transformative changes that advance the human condition.

If this work resonates with you, please explore further and consider how you can collaborate with us. And, don’t hesitate to contact us with your ideas of how to make this DEI site even better!

Traci D. Ellis, J.D., SHRM-SCP


The IMSA Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), situated in the Office of the President and Human Resources, is responsible for ensuring that we have a diverse and inclusive community, that promotes equity. Through our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, we work to ensure that those with individual differences (e.g. personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g. race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) are engaged in the service of teaching, learning and advancing the human condition. IMSA takes a proactive and intentional approach in fostering and nurturing a safe, affirming and responsive environment and organizational culture where all feel they have value, the opportunity to contribute their best work and the ability to realize their full potential.

In addition, IMSA recognizes and acknowledges the historical underrepresentation and marginalization of culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse groups, both universally, and particularly, in STEM education and professions. These disparities also exist in the representation of the Academy’s workforce. We are committed to advancing equity in STEM education and representation and creating a diverse, inclusive community of global citizens who can realize their full potential, and execute our mission to advance the human condition. Equity at IMSA is defined as:

Access for Culturally, Linguistically and Economically Diverse and Marginalized students to differentiated academic and social-emotional supports and interventions that create opportunity for them to participate in educational programs and co-curricular activities that are capable of closing the excellence gaps in student experiences, success and retention. Additionally, with respect to the Academy’s workforce, Equity means differentiated strategies and resources to attract, retain and professionally develop Culturally, Linguistically and Economically Diverse and Marginalized applicants and employees.

IMSA has a 20-year history of moving DEI forward. The work has evolved from a focus on multiculturalism, to diversity and inclusion and now it is being approached through a model of Equity and Excellence, the intentional integration of Cultural Competence, Diversity, Equity, Equity-Minded Frame, Excellence and Inclusion into every facet of the Academy, with the understanding that it is an active and ongoing process involving structures, processes and people and not an isolated initiative.

IMSA’s DEI Initiatives

Through IMSA’s DEI initiatives, we have created opportunities to learn about, celebrate, and address inequities that exist at IMSA and beyond. Professional and student learning has focused on areas of implicit bias, systemic oppression, power and privilege and educational equity. Some of IMSA’s DEI Initiatives include:

IMSA approaches DEI work through an equity-minded frame, the data-driven outlook and perspectives that call attention to patterns of inequity in access, outcomes and retention as institutional problems, in an effort to develop systemic strategies within the control of the Academy that address these inequities.

Thus, IMSA’s DEI work has been informed by the following data:


IMSA is a leader in educating and developing a diverse STEM pipeline of creative, ethical, and scientific innovators for Illinois and the world. We aspire to become a recognized global leader and catalyst in equity and excellence in STEM teaching and learning, innovation and entrepreneurship.
– José M. Torres, PhD, President