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Inclusive Excellence Framework

We work from the foundational belief that inclusion is required for individuals and institutions to thrive and achieve their greatest potential. Palo Alto University uses the Inclusive Excellence Framework as the basis for our endeavors to build individual and institutional capacity in equity. The IE framework provides a comprehensive organizing structure and a roadmap for systemic, intentional, and sustainable work to drive an inclusive university. This framework spotlights five critical dimensions of focus.  

Learn More about Palo Alto University's Inclusive Excellence & Mission, Values & Strategic Vision 2021-2026



  • Access & Success: Processes which increase representation of students, staff, and faculty from historically underrepresented groups + All people able to achieve at the highest level

  • Climate & Intergroup Relations: An institutional atmosphere that respects and values all individuals and facilitates a sense of belonging + Meaningful and inclusive interactions across lines of difference

  • Education & Scholarship: Development of individual capacity towards cultural responsiveness and cultural consciousness + Production of innovative scholarship on the impact, alleviation, and healing of marginalized communities

  • Infrastructure & Accountability: Organizational and communication structures, policies and practices, and resource distribution that enable sustained and systemic integration of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice + Outcome assessment and transparency across divisions to continually measure impact and refine efforts

  • Community Engagement: Engagement with individuals and groups in our local area + Reciprocal relationships with community partners in service of well-being and mental health

Working definitions. It is important that each of us work from a shared understanding of the concepts related to the IE framework and the equity work in our institution. The following are some key working definitions to frame the work.  
  • Diversity: Meaningful representation of groups historically underrepresented in higher education, facilitating a community embodying a multiplicity of identities including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability status, social class, education level, religion, and other sociocultural identities
  • Equity: The intentional investment of institutional resources and supports to ensure that outcomes do not differ by sociocultural identity or lived experience
  • Inclusion: An institutional climate that respects, values, and embraces individuals’ whole selves, inclusive of sociocultural identities and lived experiences
  • Belonging: A sense of connection, acceptance, and value as a member and part of a community or institution
  • Social justice: Social  justice is a recognition of the historical and contemporary structural forces that have created systems of inequity and disparity that unfairly advantage some groups and disadvantage other groups, particularly in terms of social status, economic justice, and physical and mental health. It is also a practice of proactively undoing these entrenched systems to allow all persons the opportunity to thrive and live safely, fully, and freely.