Message from the Dean – Diversity Action Plan

July 21, 2020

Dear Schulich Community,

Many of you have been asking the Schulich School of Music leadership for a statement of commitment to action in light of recent events, notably, anti-Black racism protests worldwide and heightened awareness of inequities and discrimination in society at large and within our School. I am writing to share the specific actions we are taking to achieve our goals over the next five years, the duration of the Strategic Plan (2020–24). These actions are anchored to the community planning process that our School undertook in 2019, which led to identifying diversity initiatives as a strategic priority.

Our diversity goals are consistent with McGill University’s EDI Strategic Plan and are founded on the vision statement developed collectively by the School in Fall 2017:

The Schulich School of Music is committed to promoting diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in our learning and employment environment, our artistic and social interactions, and our engagement with all communities. The School aims to foster a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of all persons. We strive to identify, remove, and prevent barriers that hinder full and meaningful participation in all aspects of campus life. All members of the Schulich School of Music community share the responsibility of supporting these values and goals.


The Diversity Action Plan describes the initiatives to enable and achieve three main goals.

  1. Diversify our community by implementing strategies to recruit underrepresented populations.

    Student population
    A working group of staff and students will research and develop a recruitment plan to reach prospective students from underrepresented populations. These include Black, Indigenous and, in many areas of musical activity, women and LGBTQ2i+ persons. In order to enhance social representativeness in the School, our efforts must focus on proactive recruitment to encourage admissions applications from groups who are currently underrepresented and on measures to demonstrate that our learning community is one in which all are welcomed and can succeed.
    Timeline: recruitment plan due March 2021, implementation starting 2021 recruitment cycle

    The Dean and Advancement team will fundraise to create more scholarship support for students from underrepresented groups.
    Timeline: started in Fall 2019, ongoing

    The School will work with relevant units at McGill to establish mentorship and outreach programs, particularly for students from underrepresented groups. We need to ensure that students who are minorities are supported and feel included in our community.
    Timeline: to start, the Dean is consulting with Black music alumni and the McGill Black Alumni Association throughout Summer 2020, program to be established 2020/21

    Faculty population
    All Area Coordinators will collaborate with their respective instructors and students to foster a program of invitees who would bring to the Area diverse identities (including members of underrepresented groups), experiences, and perspectives. This is where input from students and colleagues is particularly welcome in order to find exciting, top quality candidates who will enrich learning at the School through their expertise and diverse voices.
    Timeline: starting Fall 2020

    The Dean will invite Distinguished Visiting Scholars (Dean’s Chairs) who enhance diversity in our community. This practice is already in place, for example, recent Dean’s Chairs have included women, and experts in disability studies in music and Indigenous music. We aim to welcome a senior scholar from one of the Black, Indigenous and/or Person of Colour communities.
    Timeline: ongoing

    The School will increase efforts to seek out candidates from underrepresented groups in tenure-stream hiring. The University has established compulsory equity training for each member of a search committee and committees will be charged with rigorously applying employment equity protocols that include proactive recruitment to ensure a pool of diverse and excellent candidates. The “equivalency class” measure will apply such that where two or more candidates are deemed to be excellent and have the qualifications necessary to fulfill position requirements, the offer for the position shall first be made to the candidate who is a member of the least represented equity group in the academic unit.
    Timeline: as soon as the hiring freeze ends (expected December 2020), we will launch searches for positions in Ethnomusicology and Performance Science
  2. Improve equity, diversity and inclusion in personal awareness and practices

    The School will establish a standing committee of Faculty Council, with faculty, staff and student representation, to promote initiatives related to equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. This will be the core engine of cultural change in the School and the liaison with central University EDI resources.
    Timeline: Faculty Council approval in Fall 2020

    A working group of faculty and students will develop School-wide guidelines for faculty-student interaction in the music context. These will build on the guidelines developed by the Jazz Equity Working Group and be modelled on similar initiatives at other Music Schools, to ensure that all faculty and students understand and uphold the principles of respect, professionalism, integrity, responsibility and equity in the musical environment.
    Timeline: ongoing, report due December 2020

    The School will ensure regular training workshops for faculty, staff and students on EDI matters. Training workshops were initiated in 2017 but learning in this area is necessarily iterative and ongoing so that awareness and practices take root. One of the mandates of EDI Committee will be to establish an annual program.
    Timeline: ongoing, 2020/21 will start with anti-Black racism workshop in October 2020
  3. Enhance the diversity of curriculum, repertoire and teaching modalities

    Area Coordinators in both Departments and Ensemble Directors will lead discussions with their respective instructors and students to develop concrete strategies with short- and longer-term targets for diversifying the curriculum/repertoire in each area/program. It is critical that those closest to the area of activity be engaged and involved to determine the most appropriate form of diversification to achieve their learning objectives, and to decide how changes will be implemented and sustained.
    Timeline: discussions starting September 2020, plans due March 2021, implementation starting 2021

    Students will be supported and encouraged by their practical instructors and supervisors in their efforts to diversify their personal repertoires and scholarly approaches.
    Timeline: starting Fall 2020

    The School has hired a senior, tenure-stream faculty member with expertise in leading innovative pedagogy in higher education. Once established, this position will play a central role in helping the School to implement our teaching and learning enhancement goals.
    Timeline: Professor Creech will join the School in August 2020.

    Just to be clear, our commitment to the activities and qualities on which the School’s reputation is based remain unchanged. Our goal is to build on the School’s strengths and reputation to ensure its continued excellence and leadership.

    This is an exciting moment in the School’s history. We have the opportunity to use the increased awareness of social injustice to examine our own foundations, policies and practices and to ensure that our learning, research and performance environments reflect our institutional commitment to equity and inclusion. Working together, we can strive to make the Schulich School of Music a welcoming place for all and ensure that our excellence is strengthened through diversity.

    Brenda Ravenscroft, Ph.D.
    Dean, Schulich School of Music


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