Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) launches its newsletter!
Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) launches its newsletter!
Message from the Vice President for DEI & Chief Diversity Officer, Sharnnia Artis

Patriots Brave and Bold
I hope you are healthy, well, and having a wonderful spring semester. It is such an honor and privilege to share my first message in the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s first newsletter.

joined the Mason community because I wanted to be part of Mason’s vision to become a national exemplar of anti-racism and inclusive excellence. This vision is one that is brave, bold, and will require the entire Mason community to be involved. During my first six months, my focus has been on getting to know the Mason community – students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and partners. I have had the opportunity to meet over 200 people from the Mason community and learn about many of our DEI initiatives, including the 
Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and Inclusion Excellence (ARIE), Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment (CCEE), Enslaved People of George Mason Memorial, and LGBTQ+ Resources Center (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning+). Through these conversations, it has become clear that the Mason community is ready to build on decades of DEI work to position Mason to be the model institution for anti-racism and inclusive excellence. 

So, what is the model institution and national exemplar we strive to become? For Mason, it is one where: 
  • We are deliberate in establishing an inclusive environment in which all members of the campus community are welcomed and supported; experience a sense of belonging; and differing perspectives are valued and encouraged.
  • We are committed to equal opportunity across the board, and will aggressively challenge and respond to bias, discrimination, and harassment. 
  • Anti-racism and inclusive excellence will be foundational in every program, process, policy, and procedure at Mason.
As we work together to become leaders in anti-racism and inclusive excellence, we aim to use our DEI newsletter as one mechanism to share outcomes, be transparent, and hold ourselves accountable. Our vision is brave and bold and your involvement is necessary to become the national exemplar we desire to become. As you read through the newsletter, if you find that you have ideas, questions, or want to get involved, let me know by emailing
Be brave and bold,

Sharnnia Artis, Ph.D. 

Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer

The Margaret C. Howell Outstanding Achievement Award

Nominations are open for this $2,000 award sponsored by the Office for DEI. Recipients reflect the hard work of our Mason community members committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn about the award's nomination criteria. Get more information on the Outstanding Achievement Awards. Submit your nomination today! The submission deadline is Friday, February 25. 
Nominate a Faculty or Staff Member Here!


Name Change and New Leadership

As George Mason University strives to be a national leader in anti-racism and inclusive excellence, a couple of changes in line with that goal have been implemented.

  • Name Change: This past fall semester, the Office of Compliance, Diversity and Ethics (CDE) changed its name to the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to better reflect the university’s vision. DEI’s mission is to champion anti-racism and inclusive excellence through an environment that is safe and welcoming for everyone; one that is free of all discrimination and harassment; and one where all perspectives are valued and encouraged. While the name has changed, our focus on the Americans with Disabilities Act, assistive technologies, protected-class discrimination, Title IX concerns, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and university policy management remain the same. What has changed is DEI’s leadership and a new focus on Mason’s Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence (ARIE).

  • New Leadership: DEI welcomed Crystal C. Coombes as American with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator and interim Title IX coordinator. Arshi Moktader was also welcomed as our full-time Office Assistant. Meet the rest of the DEI staff.

Announcing the formation of Mason’s Inclusive Excellence Council (IE Council)

In collaboration with the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development, the Office for DEI has formed an The Inclusive Excellence Council, which will consist of DEI representatives from Mason’s colleges and schools. 

The purpose of the IE Council is to:

  • Create a space for sharing best practices and lessons learned. 
  • Provide opportunities for coordination across schools/colleges to amplify our IE work, especially around the IEPs.
  • Identify point people engaged in IE/DEI efforts in the schools/colleges and develop relationships to build mutual support and collaboration opportunities.
  • Leverage our collective expertise to propose changes in policies and practices. 
  • Support efforts to communicate relevant information about Mason’s DEI/IE goals, strategies, and efforts to academic units.   
While the name may have changed, the Office for DEI will continue to build upon the legacy of services established in this space, including:
  • Custom Diversity/Equal Opportunity Trainings: Education is essential in maintaining an environment free from discriminatory harassment and retaliation. Mason staff and employees interested in learning more about navigating an increasingly diverse universe are encouraged to reach out to DEI for consultation, and to discuss the possibility of a customized DEI training session for your department, unit, or team. For questions, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Kyle Warfield.
  • Assistive Technology Initiative (ATI): In addition to providing assistive technology resources for individuals with disabilities (e.g., text-to-speech tools), the ATI works to ensure equivalent access to all information and communications technology resources for individuals with different learning styles and abilities in the Mason community. For more information, visit the ATI Webpage.
Make a Report to DEI - Link
Notify the Office for DEI of Alleged Incidents of Protected-Class Discrimination or Ethics Violations
Make a Title IX Report - Link
Notify the Title IX Office of Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, or Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence

The Anti-Racism & Inclusive Excellence (ARIE) Initiative


The Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence (ARIE) was established in July 2020 by President Washington to ensure that George Mason University (Mason) creates an inclusive and equitable campus environment in which every member of our community, without exception, is valued, supported, and experiences a sense of belonging. Students, faculty, and staff members have lent significant time, energy, and expertise to move us from one milestone to the next.

In Fall 2020, the President established the ARIE Taskforce and several committees to facilitate a comprehensive scan of Mason’s campus environment. The committees were Campus and Community Engagement, Curriculum and Pedagogy, Research, Student Voice, Training and Development, and University Policies and Practices. In November, the President held a Freedom & Learning Forum on Racial Justice, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion that provided an opportunity for the campus community to participate in dialogue with key leaders on issues of campus climate, racial justice, equity and inclusion.

By spring of 2021, the working groups had submitted comprehensive reports that included recommendations for the broader Mason community. With the ARIE Taskforce, the President held Townhalls to gather community feedback and refine the proposed recommendations. By late spring, President Washington charged an Implementation Leadership Team to move the recommendations forward in the upcoming year under the leadership of the incoming Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer.

Dr. Sharnnia Artis joined our Mason community in the fall of 2021, an ARIE Implementation Leadership Team (ILT) was appointed, and they are regularly meeting and making meaningful headway. The President also constituted the Implementation Working Groups, each with a liaison to the ILT, who are actively working to ensure progress on the recommendations. The ILT and Implementation Working Groups are already achieving some of the ARIE short and long-term goals with the approved initial budget.

The focus this spring is on meeting the Year 1 ARIE goals. The ILT will share more details on its progress later this semester. We look forward to engaging the Mason community and hope you will add your voice to the conversation!

Milestones & Accomplishments

Summer 2020
  • President Washington announced anti-racism and inclusive excellence taskforce

Fall 2020
  • Kicked off ARIE Taskforce committees and submitted first reports
  • Held Freedom & Learning Forum on Anti-Racism
  • Conducted comprehensive environmental scan and prep for Townhalls

Spring 2021
  • Launched ARIE Website
  • Held two Townhalls and received community feedback
  • Revised recommendations based on Board of Visitors and community feedback
  • Announced Implementation Strategy and Team 

Summer 2021
Fall 2021
  • Onboarded new VP of DEI/CDO
  • Presented first ARIE budget plan and gained approval by Mason leadership
  • Created comprehensive plan to implement and monitor progress of ARIE recommendations

Spring 2022
  • Expanded opportunities to be more responsive and inclusive of Student Voice
  • Presented second ARIE budget plan to Mason leadership in January
Student Voice Update
Update on ARIE's Student Voice
In December 2021, Student Voice presented their recommendations to the Implementation Leadership Team regarding ARIE's initiatives. Last month, a plan was created to expand opportunities for ARIE to be more responsive and inclusive of students. 
An Interview with Sharrell Hassell-Goodman about Student Voice

Earlier this month, Dr. Wendi Manuel-Scott had a virtual chat with Sharrell Hassell-Goodman, a doctoral student in the Higher Education program and co-chair of ARIE's Student Voice committee. Hassell-Goodman discusses her hopes and expectations for ARIE since it was formed and how Mason can keep students at the center of these initiatives. Read more.
How Students Can Get Involved
ARIE's Student Voice plays an integral role in moving our university forward by providing feedback about Mason's initiatives and ensuring student needs continue to be heard. Click below to learn more details about becoming a member and submit your application!
Submit a Student Voice Application Here!
Black and African Heritage Month Events
The Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment, along with other campus departments, is celebrating Black and African Heritage Month with numerous events all throughout the month of February. Don't miss out on the remaining events!

Upcoming Events

  • Virtual Workshop. Reclaiming Your Power. Hosted by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) on Thursday, Feb. 24 from 3 - 4 p.m.

  • Black History Month: Jeopardy. Hosted by Corazones Unidos Siempre/Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Incorporated. HUB Meeting Room 4. Thursday, Feb. 24 from 3 - 4 p.m.

  • Asian/Pacific Heritage Block Party. The Mason community celebrates Asian/Pacific Heritage in April. PAC and Student Government are kicking it off with a market that celebrates and supports Asian/Pacific American small and student businesses. Friday, April 1 from 12 - 4 p.m.

  • Virtual Workshop. Engaging Students in Inclusive Hybrid Learning Environments. Wednesday, Feb. 23, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Facilitator: Crystal Anderson, Assistant Director for Teaching Excellence, Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning.

  • The virtual How to Be an Anti-Racist Researcher workshop series will be held Wednesday, Feb. 23 (Taking Concrete Steps as an Anti-Racist Researcher); and Wednesday, March 23 (Navigating Constraints and Locating Possibilities).

  • Webinar. Inclusive Course Design and Teaching. Wednesday, March 9, 2022 from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. Facilitator: Laura Todd, Instructional Designer, Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning.

  • Virtual Workshop. Workshop: Inclusive Teaching Using the TILT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching) Method. Wednesday, March 23, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Facilitator: Crystal Anderson, Assistant Director for Teaching Excellence, Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning.

  • Faculty Affinity Groups. These groups provide our diverse faculty and doctoral students with a sense of community, inclusion, and belonging. Please see the website for a link to the full listing of faculty affinity groups, meeting times, and registration information.

  • Identity Nights: Queer and Trans BIPOC. Tuesday, Feb 22 and Wednesday, Feb 23 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. SUB 1 2200.

  • Support Group. Hosted for students who want a space to discuss identity exploration and resources both on and off-campus. Thursday, Feb 24 (in person) and Monday, March 7 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. (virtual)

  • Pride Week 2022. Stay tuned to learn about events happening around campus from March 27th to April 2nd. More details forthcoming.

  • Sojourner Truth Lecture. Annual lecture Honoring the historical black feminist and hosted this year virtually by Duke Professor Dr. Jennifer Nash. Tuesday, March 1 from 1:30 - 3 p.m. 

  • Brown Bag Lecture with Dr. Akila-ka Ma'at. Communicating the Colonized Mind, Racial Stress, and Cardiovascular Health. Wed., March 9 from 12:00 – 1 p.m. Johnson Center, B.

  • Women of Color Circle. Explore the experiences of women of color at GMU. Tuesday, March 22 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. 

  • Navigating the Academy as a Woman. Discussion with Dr. Anu Aneja and Dr. Julie Owen on how to navigate academia as women in 2022. Wednesday, March 30 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. 

Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
703-993-8730 |
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