The Actions Speak Louder
Than Words Challenge

The courage to change starts right here at Elmhurst University.

President Troy D. VanAken has called on all members of the campus community to join this new campuswide challenge. The goal is to enable participants to play an active role in building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus.

Take These Three Steps to Participate

Logo for the Elmhurst University Actions Speak Louder Than Words Challenge

Statue of Reinhold Niebuhr in academic centers in Kranz Forum on the campus of Elmhurst University in Elmhurst, IL.

1. Learn and Reflect

Throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, the University will offer a wide variety of thought-provoking events, activities and resources that explore today’s most urgent topics in greater depth.

Individual student academic honors.

2. Support the DEI Scholarship

Launched at the start of the academic year, the President’s Scholarship for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will support students from historically underrepresented groups. With a fundraising goal of $200,000, the initiative features a matching challenge of up to $100,000 that will double the impact of each gift.


Elmhurst University mascot Victor E. Bluejay points to his right.

3. Make an Action Plan

Consider how you can use your platform and spheres of influence. Reflect on what you want to learn and what you will stand for. In the coming weeks, you will be able to share your action plan on this page. Need an example to spark ideas? See President VanAken’s action plan below.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words Challenge

Action Plan: Troy VanAken

After spending the summer and beginning of the Fall Term reading, listening and reflecting, I am even more certain that higher education is one of the most powerful vehicles available to provide opportunity and address equity issues in society. So my actions in this area will be to:

  • Continue to help increase recruitment, retention and graduation rates at Elmhurst University, paying specific attention to underrepresented populations.
  • Lead the NSF-funded Promotion of Underrepresented Minorities in Academic STEM (PUMA-STEM) Alliance, whose goal is to double the number of STEM graduates from underrepresented populations.
  • Refocus on international recruitment efforts, as COVID-19 vaccines and other relief measures allow, to contribute to Elmhurst University’s global diversity and provide educational opportunities for international populations.

I also plan to remain intentional about engaging with student groups that would benefit from appropriate presidential involvement. So my actions will include being available for the Coalition on Multicultural Engagement at least once each term, and more if appropriate.

Institutionally, I will work with the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to develop plans and initiatives that will help us continue to advance as a diverse, equitable and inclusive University.

Finally, recognizing that students want to see faculty and staff members who look like them and better represent them, I plan to:

  • Work with the Office of Human Resources to keep developing hiring and other employment practices that will help us to further diversify our workforce.
  • Collaborate with the campus community to develop a Chief Diversity Officer position, and then execute a search in 2021 to bring such a leader to campus to fill this role.

Drawing on our core values of community and social responsibility, this initiative provides ways for us to come together, as individuals and as an institution, to act on our social responsibilities and empower others to do the same.

— President Troy D. VanAken

Upcoming Events

View Fall Term Events

Civility Pledge

To better foster a spirit of civil discourse on our campus this term during the Nov. 3 election and the weeks that follow, the Student Government Association, Student Affairs Council, Faculty Council, Staff Council and the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are asking students, staff and faculty to consider signing the pledge below as a demonstration of individual commitment to civil discourse.

The list of individuals who have signed the pledge will be posted in the Frick Center as a public acknowledgment of our campus’ commitment to civil discourse.

Read and Sign the Pledge

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