This special effort at Illinois Wesleyan has been inspired by the American Association of Colleges and University (AAC&U) initiative, which has guided numerous institutions in similar processes.

Some key definitions from the AAC&U initiative that will be used in integrating diversity and inclusion into the fabric of IWU are listed below.

Diversity: Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.

Inclusion: The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity – in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect – in ways that increase one's awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.

Inclusive Excellence: The integration of diversity and educational quality efforts into the core of the academic mission and institutional functioning. Diversity and inclusion are conceptualized as a multi-layered process through which we achieve excellence in learning; research and teaching; student development; institutional functioning; local and global community engagement; workforce development; and more.