Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ)

Sandra Mitchell, Senior Diversity Officer

I am pleased to serve as the inaugural Senior Diversity Officer for the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University (CSB/SJU).  In my new and exciting role, I am charged to provide counsel to the President on diversity and inclusion matters and provide leadership for our diversity and educational equity initiatives.

Since January 2023, we have been laying a foundation for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) that is based on the wonderful work that has been and continues to be done by committed members of our community, and which honors our Benedictine heritage.  We have centered our work around these priorities, which align and support the university’s strategic priorities:

  • Building and maintaining a campus climate where all community members experience a sense of belonging and well-being that is supported through academic success, respectful engagement, authentic relationships, growth and flourishing.
  • Institutionalizing our efforts by developing an infrastructure that is not a single set of initiatives on the margins but is an integral part of all functions of the university.
  • Recruiting, retaining, and contributing to the success a diverse community of students and employees who bring a wider range of perspectives, expands networks of support, and enriches the entire CSB and SJU community.
  • Enhancing and maintaining an intentional focus on curricular and pedagogical innovation, curricular and co-curricular offerings and professional development related to DEIJ for all members of our community.
  • Developing and supporting the growth of existing and new partnerships in order to build stronger connections with diverse local communities.

All of this is done with the knowledge that both DEIJ and our Benedictine values enforce our work toward the central purpose of higher education– to challenge students and all members of our community to think about their own perspectives, whatever those might be, and how they may best serve the common good.

Much has been accomplished, but we realize there is much yet to be done.  DEIJ work is by its very nature collaborative.  I hope that we will continue to work together to build a community and ultimately a world made better by all of the individual strengths we bring to this work and to our collective responsibility.

Sandra Mitchell, Senior Diversity Officer

Sandra Mitchell, Senior Diversity Hire

Brian Bruess, President College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University

The missions of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University call us to join together in the self-reflective, honest, unrelenting, and bold journey of becoming a beloved community for all.

The groundwork for this journey is found in our Benedictine Values and Wisdom traditions, our commitment to the Catholic intellectual and social traditions, and our institutional learning goals. Our Benedictine values inspire us to seek an awareness of God, to live in community, to respect all persons, to listen attentively, to extend hospitality, and to work for justice and stability. The Catholic tradition call us to uphold the dignity of all people, to dismantle systems of oppression, to understand the intersection of faith and reason, and to unapologetically act for the greater good. And our liberal arts heritage, as expressed in our institutional learning goals, challenges all members of our community to think critically and seek wisdom through the integration of knowledge and information.

For these and many other good and principled reasons, we commit fully to teaching and learning about and understanding the full range of human differences, to advancing just practices that ensure access and success for all, to welcoming all as members of our community so each feels a deep sense of belonging, and to relentlessly working for justice. We do all this because it is good and right. We do this because our mission calls us. We do this for individual and collective human flourishing.

This call is simple, powerful, and enduring.

Let us continue the journey, together.

Brian Bruess, President

President Brian Bruess

CSB+SJU Inclusion Visioning Statement

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University believe that an excellent liberal arts education requires an understanding and appreciation of cultural difference and that everyone deserves to feel safe and morally valued. To that end, we will challenge our own practices and systems. Our commitment to an inclusive environment will be incorporated into all decision-making processes. We dedicate ourselves to cultivating an equitable, inclusive community founded on respect for all persons. We commit to:

  • Foster a learning and working environment that reflects respect for all persons
  • Make decisions in accordance with our commitment to inclusivity
  • Promote inclusion via self-reflection and professional development
  • Respond to the common call of Catholic Social Teaching and Benedictine values to dismantle systems of oppression
  • Share and engage these practices in all that we do in the classroom, across our campuses and in the greater world

What is DEIJ?

Diversity: The presence of the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.

Equity: Having fair and just practices that ensure access, resources, and opportunities are provided for all to succeed and grow.

Inclusion: The involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized.

Justice: Creating environments that support all equitably without regard to race-ethnicity, gender identity, religion, or learning potential.

Saint Ben's Students enjoy an academic challenge in their physics lab.
Photo of student and their study material.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Advisory Board

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Advisory Board (formerly the DEIJ Coordinating Council) is an institution-wide committee charged with promoting the Benedictine, Catholic and liberal arts ideas of learning, justice and community to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University.  The council meets regularly to align strategic initiatives and emerging topics with the value of DEIJ in our community. 

Our Commitment

We take equity seriously. On our campus, in our hiring practices, and in encouraging our students to challenge societal norms, we believe that an excellent liberal arts education requires an understanding of our cultural differences. 

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University challenges its practices and systems, too. Here, we have collected resources and information about our work to provide a whole-person education that includes a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. 

A Stronger Community

We dedicate ourselves to cultivating an equitable, inclusive community founded on respect for all persons. This includes: 

  • Foster a learning and working environment that reflects respect for all persons
  • Make decisions in accordance with our commitment to inclusivity
  • Promote inclusion via self-reflection and professional development
  • Respond to the common call of Catholic Social Teaching and Benedictine values to dismantle systems of oppression
  • Share and engage these practices in all that we do in the classroom, across our campuses, and in the greater world

Our goal is to create a community where all students, faculty and staff across identities may succeed in a climate that is characterized by our belief that the people who make up community are transformed and made better not in spite of, but because of the presence of others in our community.

Sandra Mitchell, Senior Diversity Officer, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University

DEIJ Strategic Plan Executive Summary

The strategic plan outlined for CSB and SJU aims to continue and expand upon our commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) through a comprehensive approach across various facets of institutional life. Inspired by the Becoming Community initiative, which emphasized transformative inclusion, the plan sets ambitious goals to embed DEIJ principles into the core fabric of the institutions.

Key Elements of the Plan include:

1. Culture and Climate of Transformative Inclusion: Creating a campus climate where all community members feel a sense of belonging and well-being. This involves addressing behaviors that marginalize populations, providing training for staff, and developing inclusive living and learning environments.

2. Infrastructure and Accountability: Establishing an office dedicated to DEIJ efforts with allocated resources and staffing. This office will coordinate institutional DEIJ initiatives and ensure transparency and accountability across departments.

3. Student Enrollment and Success: Increasing recruitment and retention of BIPOC, first-generation, and Pell-eligible students. Goals include enhancing support structures, fostering equitable access to resources, and promoting student success through high-impact practices.

4. Workforce Development as Tools for Transforming Community: Implementing strategies for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, staff, and administrators. This includes setting representation goals, providing bias training for search committees, and creating mentoring programs.

5. Education and Development: Integrating DEIJ into curricular and co-curricular content, and offering professional development opportunities for faculty and staff. This includes ongoing training, creating a DEIJ certificate program, and supporting research initiatives in DEIJ.

6. Building and Sustaining Partnerships: Strengthening collaborations with local and regional communities, including BIPOC organizations and Native Nations. Initiatives focus on community engagement, outreach, and supporting diverse local businesses through responsible purchasing practices.

Overall, the plan emphasizes the intersectionality of DEIJ with the Benedictine values of the institutions, aiming for comprehensive institutional transformation. It underscores the ongoing nature of DEIJ work as a critical component of educational excellence and community engagement.

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