Biola marked a major milestone this spring in its ongoing efforts to embrace and embody biblical diversity, launching a long-awaited “Institutional Diversity Strategic Plan” that will shape the university for years to come.
The comprehensive, multi-year plan seeks to “allow for greater flourishing of God’s vision for unity amidst diversity on our campus and beyond” by establishing measurable initiatives and strategies in such areas as academic curriculum, cocurricular activities, hiring, employee training and fundraising.
“For the past few years, the university’s leadership and Board of Trustees have given increased attention to how we are a community that thinks and acts biblically on diversity, truly caring about one another, welcoming students from diverse backgrounds and nurturing a climate that is welcoming for all,” President Barry H. Corey said at a launch event on March 26. “We’ve come a long way, but we’re committed to keep on going.”
The new plan is structured around four overarching goals, referred to as the “Four E’s”: embrace, equip, engage and expand. Under the plan, the university will seek to continue fostering a campus community that actively practices and invites all to embrace diversity. It will equip employees to enhance business practices and services as they support educational excellence. It will engage students in diversity-related educational opportunities to prepare students to work and serve in an ever-increasingly diverse world. And it will expand the accessibility and retention of individuals from diverse backgrounds on campus at all levels of the university. Among the plan’s more than 30 tangible strategies are enhanced retention efforts aimed at students of diverse backgrounds, new partnerships with local churches and parachurch ministries, enhanced theological and practical training opportunities for employees, and achievement of HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution) and AANAPISI (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions) designations.
Developed under the leadership of Tamra Malone, Biola’s chief diversity officer, the plan was shaped by an advisory board that included top university administrators and a task force made up of faculty, staff and students. It’s rooted in a three-page theological statement approved by the Board of Trustees in January 2019, titled “Unity Amidst Diversity,” which explores the biblical vision for Christians of diverse backgrounds to flourish together in a “vibrant community that is ultimately a countercultural witness to the world.”
Malone emphasized the plan’s role in advancing both Biola’s mission and the original vision of Biola’s founders for the institution to be a place where “all people, without reference to race, color, class, creed or previous condition, will ever be welcome.”
“We must take intentional steps to implement this vital work within our community, as we seek to reflect the breadth and depth of the diverse yet unified body of Christ,” said Malone, who called the plan “a historic achievement for our campus as it provides a roadmap for years to come.”
University leaders noted that the plan accounts for many forms of diversity — including race, ethnicity, cultural values, socioeconomic status, sex, disabilities, age, native language, church denomination and more.
“We can’t realize our mission if we are not diverse in many ways, including thought, ethnicity, socioeconomic backgrounds and faculty and leadership makeup — not just reflecting diversity in our student body, but in our whole community,” said Brad Cole, vice chair of Biola’s Board of Trustees. “Biblical diversity and our commitment to unity within diversity is key to living in a Christlike community. … I cannot be more excited and convinced that Biola is on the best path to doing important work in this area that propels us forward to greater relational and missional impact than ever before.”
Read an overview of Biola’s Institutional Diversity Strategic Plan and watch a video of the launch event at biola.edu/idsp.