Inclusive Excellence



Inclusive Excellence is a framework designed to integrate diversity, equity, and educational quality efforts into institutional missions and institutional operations as a shared responsibility among all members. It is an active ongoing process of continuous improvement through inquiry, action, accountability, and assessment as a driving force for organizing efforts to build and sustain a climate and culture that invites and leverages diversity to guide innovation in teaching, research, discovery, service, partnership, and accountability within and beyond the institution’s borders. 


UNC Charlotte’s Inclusive Excellence (IE) Framework represents our customized approach for how we synergize and support our collective diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts throughout the tapestry of our institution. Adapted from the 2005 AACU model, our IE framework provides an additional dimension of communication and shared language due to the elevated need to intentionally use meaning-making to connect members of our community to consistent messaging and to establish and reinforce an institutional standard. Our framework dimensions are listed below. For more information on our strategic actions, we encourage you to explore our forthcoming Inclusive Excellence Action Plan.

UNC Charlotte's Inclusive Excellence Framework

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All framework dimensions support a comprehensive and flexible structure for engaged, intentional, and systemic self-study across all areas of UNC Charlotte's functioning. Once a functional area or college/unit/department has studied their areas of strength and strategic opportunity, specific priorities are developed for each dimension--accompanied by actions and metrics. Expand a dimension below to learn more about the types of activities that are the focus of self-inquiry and strategic action development.

This dimension refers to the compositional diversity of our undergraduate, graduate and professional student body, faculty and staff and the context-specific outcomes related to recruitment, retention, development, and long-term success outcomes (graduation, tenure, career advancement, etc.) within Charlotte. Reflection questions to be engaged in this dimension include:
  • How do we invite people to join us (recruitment)?
  • Who gets to be here (admissions/hiring)?
  • How do we provide support (advising/career ladders)?
  • Who benefits, who is excluded, and how (graduation/career outcomes)?
  • How have we updated our practices to reflect current and future needs?
  • How accessible are our facilities, language, and policy understandings?
This dimension refers to our ability to create and sustain an organizational environment that acknowledges and celebrates diversity and employs inclusive practices throughout its daily behaviors and norms. Our goal extends beyond creating a supportive and respectful climate of valuing different perspectives and experiences. We seek to nourish a culture where individuals feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to the University and safe enough to take interpersonal risks within our work and learning environment. As a community, we work together to build a living, learning, and working environment where all are supported, respected, feel a sense of belonging, and are given the tools and opportunities to thrive. Much of this dimension is measured by perception, thus reflection questions include:
  • What is it like here and how do we know?
  • How do we relate to one another?
  • Who is thriving and why?
  • What data do we identify and use to prioritize areas of growth and improvement?
  • What are our institutional best practices to ensure all feel welcomed, valued, and respected?
  • How are our institutional best practices evaluated and by whom?
  • Who are we including or excluding in our planning?
This dimension refers to how we engage our students, faculty, staff, alumni and volunteers in learning varied perspectives of domestic and international diversity, equity, and inclusion. Specifically, how our curricula and pedagogies, teaching, research, and scholarship are designed to enhance employee and student development in our pursuit of discovery, innovation, community engagement, service, and overall community health and well-being. Programs and processes included course offerings, service learning, and professional development activities to promote intercultural awareness, cultural humility, and competence through cross-cultural engagement. Reflection questions to consider include things like:
  • What do we teach, why, and how?
  • What do we research, why, and how?
  • How and where do we disseminate knowledge?;
  • How do we develop our students?
  • How do we develop our faculty and staff?
  • How do we encourage research and collaboration across DEI topics?
  • How does our knowledge sharing attend to students’ and employees’ differing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds?
This dimension refers to our ability to create and sustain an institutional infrastructure that effectively supports progress in achieving the diversity goals in Charlotte’s strategic plan. Institutional infrastructure refers to the policies, resources, organizational and communication structures, performance measures, and the use of metrics and other evidence to drive intentional decision-making around diversity, equity, inclusion, and institutional sustainability. Reflection questions to begin fostering this work include:
  • How are we organized?
  • Where do we invest our energies and money?
  • What "governs" our work?
  • How do we know if our intent matches our impact?
  • How do we build and maintain inclusive capacity?
  • How do we develop and improve policies and procedures to support DEI?
  • How do we access and monitor our progress, intent, and impact?
This dimension refers to how we promote a clear, cohesive, and comprehensive standard of defining and operationalizing our goals, accomplishments, initiatives, and innovations in our diversity, equity and inclusion practices and policies. It also entails our collective understanding of how we define our culture and climate and establish a deliberately inclusive mindset toward belonging. The reflection questions to explore are:
  • How do we communicate what’s important to us?
  • Are our efforts translatable across multiple audiences?
  • What are our shared expectations?
  • How do we amplify and normalize our messaging as a daily practice?
  • Is our messaging consistent across the institution?
  • Is our messaging accessible?
  • How inclusive is our language among intended audience(s)?
This dimension refers to how we leverage Charlotte’s mission and guiding commitments to improve outcomes and reduce disparities for historically underrepresented, underserved and minoritized groups throughout Charlotte and its surrounding communities, North Carolina and beyond. Specifically, we understand how place-based organizations like ours hold a social responsibility to understand and track our impacts on the well-being of the communities and partners we engage. Thus, reflection questions to consider are:
  • Where are we and how did we come to be here?
  • What impact do we have on this place and surrounding areas?
  • How does the community contribute to our success and knowledge?
  • What does it mean to be a good neighbor?
  • Are we intentional in addressing historically underserved and minoritized communities?
  • How are we building partnerships to create solutions for community-based DEI challenges?
  • How do we measure, monitor, and set ethical expectations for outreach, engagement and collaboration with underserved and minoritized communities?