KCAI’s Path Forward for Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Access and Sustainability (IDEAS)

We at the Kansas City Art Institute recognize that a plurality of voices and perspectives is crucial in providing educational excellence that develops visionary creators, artists and global citizens. We strive towards creating a campus community with the broadest spectrum of representation with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, socioeconomic status and first-generation students. The core concepts of inclusion, diversity, equity, access and sustainability are guiding principles integral to KCAI’s strategic and academic planning, social and studio practices, research, and learning outcomes.

Like many institutions and organizations around the world, KCAI is evaluating our past and considering our future in educating for change and advocating for social justice. We strive to create a campus culture of transparency, collaboration and accountability – a place in which all members feel visible and supported. This work is not about one moment in time; rather, it’s a commitment to ongoing training and conversations to help bring about positive change on our campus and in our community. It is about building a path forward.

Immediate action

  • Adopt a mission statement for inclusion, diversity, equity, access and sustainability (IDEAS)
  • Support the work of a newly formed IDEAS Council, a group made up of faculty, staff and students, giving students direct access to administration.
  • Diversify hiring practices. The college appointed Shawntae Jones to the newly created position, Director of Diverse Talent and Inclusion who will oversee all faculty and staff searches.
  • Develop The President’s Action Council. The purpose of this group is to advance an action agenda assembled from the recommendations of the Diversity Working Group of the Faculty Assembly and the IDEAS Council and/or student groups. Students participating in the President’s Action Council will include BIPOC representatives and all students will be compensated for their time and work.
  • Integrate diversity and anti-racist language into college-wide student learning outcomes for each academic department and program. Include a new, diversity-specific learning outcome across the college.
  • Perform a comprehensive review of Liberal Arts courses focused primarily on western canon and look for way to integrate a wider cultural perspective.
  • Uphold a higher level of transparency in regard to college revenue, expenses and tuition increases.
  • Annual staff and faculty training in areas such as implicit bias, Title IX and Title VI. We will also make education on Title IX and Title VI rights readily available to students.

Our community is one of creative and passionate minds, and together we can forge a path on which we confront and work to end individual and institutional racism.

IDEAS Council

In the early spring of 2020, the Diversity Working Group (DWG), comprised of Kansas City Art Institute faculty, created a set of recommendations which included the formation of an IDEAS Council, made up of a broad cross-section of faculty, staff, and students to address the critical issues of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Sustainability across all facets of the Institution. 

In the wake of nationwide unrest over police killings and systemic racism, the KCAI Student Solidarity Network and Black Student Union issued a list of demands, calling for systemic change and reform of policies and practices that perpetuate racism, anti-black, and colonial systems within our Institution. 

From these two sets of actions, the IDEAS Council began to take shape in the fall of 2020, adding members, clarifying its duties and processes, and beginning to meet regularly. In the spirit of transparency and campus-wide communication, we would like to share our collective vision, mission, and membership. In striving for a better KCAI for all, the Council warmly welcomes any feedback and ideas: ideas@kcai.edu

Vision – the end goal that we envision for our campus culture

Our vision is to dismantle racism and discriminatory practices within ourselves, our community and our institution through listening, dialogue, education and action, and to shift KCAI culture toward genuine, meaningful, and continuous Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Sustainability across all facets of our Institution. 

Mission – how are we going to accomplish our vision

The IDEAS Council (the Council), alongside the Diversity Working Group of the Faculty Assembly, is the official body dedicated to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Sustainability.

The Council is co-facilitated by Shawntae Jones, Director of Diverse Talent and Inclusion, and tyler galloway, chair of the Graphic Design Department.  Members of staff (Staff Advisory Council members), faculty (Diversity Working Group members), and students (Student Solidarity Network, Black Student Union, and selected active students for broad representation, all of whom will be compensated for their work) all serve on the council. Members will work through the Student List of Demands originated by the Student Solidarity Network. We welcome further input and recommendations from as many constituencies as possible, with special attention to introducing more efficient, safe opportunities for students to voice their concerns regarding the KCAI community with respect to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Sustainability.

We will collaboratively assess these and related issues brought to the Council and create a series of action-oriented recommendations with implementation timelines. The Council will work with all appropriate campus groups to realize those recommendations, including but not limited to, the President’s Action Council; Student Solidarity Network, Black Student Union and other student groups; Chairs Council and Departments; Staff Advisory Council and others. The Council will serve in an assessment and advisory role for a maximum of two years, with the understanding that at the end of its term, members would rotate and adjust goals and strategy as needed for future work.

IDEAS Council recommendations will be brought to the President’s Action Council, who will review the priorities and implementation timeline for the strategic initiatives recommended by the IDEAS Council and Diversity Working Group, and identify available resources to support the necessary work.

the appointment process for each IDEAS Council member:

Shawntae Griffin – Co-facilitator; director of diverse talent and inclusion; hired as part of KCAI’s response to student demands for more diverse leadership. IDEAS council is a logical part of her job description.

tyler galloway – Co-facilitator; invited by Bambi Burgard and Tony Jones.

Eleanor Lim-Midyett, Lisa Maione – Diversity Working Group co-chairs; recommended for inclusion by administration; Shawntae and tyler invited Eleanor and Lisa to nominate 3 DWG members; Eleanor and Lisa self-nominated at tyler’s encouragement, due to their early leadership of DWG.

Miguel Rivera – Diversity Working Group; nominated by Eleanor and Lisa.

Jean Schmitt – EcoSARC faculty committee; originally self-nominated to advocate for the “sustainability” aspect of IDEAS; ok’d by Bambi Burgard; invited by Shawntae and tyler.

Michael Schonhoff, Malisha Meador – Recommended by Tony Jones and Bambi Burgard, in consultation with Brian Henke, Nicolle Ratliff and Gina Golba. 

Angelica DeSimio – Originally suggested by Lisa Maione based on Angelica’s IDEAS alumni network project; recommended by Tony Jones and Bambi Burgard, in consultation with Brian Henke, Nicolle Ratliff and Gina Golba. 

Kevin Hopkins – Student; Painting and Art History; Black Student Union member; invited by Shawntae Jones.

Aleah Washington – Student; senior in Sculpture; currently major + in Fiber; nominated by Peyton Follis through a request for nominations from Gina Golba.

Sydney Smith – Student; senior in Fiber; Student Solidarity Network member; suggested by Bambi Burgard due to their leadership position in SSN; invited by Shawntae and tyler.

Peyton Follis – Student; junior in Sculpture; self-nominated through a request for nominations from Gina Golba.

Syren Law – Student; Foundation [prospective Film and Creative Writing major]; invited through a campus-wide open call, with an emphasis on queer/bipoc students.

Lucky Moe – Student; sophomore in Illustration; invited through a campus-wide open call, with an emphasis on queer/bipoc students.


March 30, 2021

The IDEAS Council is proud to share our recommendations for goals and actions that we hope will continue to move the Institute on a path toward ever-greater Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Sustainability for all.

This document is based on the original list of demands from the Student Solidarity Network and Black Student Union, the great work and recommendations made by the faculty Diversity Working Group, and the KCAI response from chairs council and administration. It is essentially a re-organization and consolidation of the existing demands and ideas, with details added that will move each goal further toward realization. It was shared with the president and his cabinet last week.

Please note that we view this as a living document and work-in-progress, intended to be refined and adjusted, and used as a catalyst for action. More research and benchmarking needs to be done to correct some factual errors, and timelines on some goals will likely shift to later dates as we start to work on these goals with many members of the campus community.

We welcome your input to edit, refine, correct errors, and add detail. Please note the goal number and be as clear and concise as possible with your suggestions. Email ideas@kcai.edu.

The feedback session will close on Friday, April 16.

Thank you to the entire community for your support and open minds in this important process of bettering ourselves and our institution.

IDEAS Council