Making Excellence Inclusive

Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Diversity  

Wesleyan has played an important role with regards to diversity in higher education in America, and much information on this can be found in the Hewlett Diversity Archive 1912-1999 and the Faculty Diversity Oral History Interviews Collection located in Olin Library Special Collections & Archives.  Of special note are the contributions of Edgar F. Beckham (1933-2006). As Wesleyan's first African-American dean of the college, Beckham led efforts to build a common understanding of diversity as integral to excellence in education.  "Edgar Beckham's legacy is his message that diversity is about much more than adding people of color to white campuses," said AAC&U president Carol Geary Schneider.  "He led a movement to enlarge the content of the curriculum, create intercultural community on campus, add new dimensions to liberal education, and build new civic capacity for democracy.

Wesleyan University is fully committed to a policy of equal opportunity throughout the University, and to this end abides by all applicable federal, state, and local laws pertaining to non discrimination and fair employment practices.  Accordingly, the University recruits, hires, trains, promotes, and educates individuals without regard to race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, veteran status, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The University uses affirmative action practices to achieve diversity among faculty, administrators, and staff; to treat all appointments and promotions in a manner free from discrimination; and to correct any under-utilization of women and minorities in employment positions.  Wesleyan, as an institution dedicated to excellence in liberal studies, has a responsibility to seek out the most talented individuals and to further the goal of achieving equality of opportunity.

For that reason, along with the principle of nondiscrimination, the University is committed to a program of affirmative action with regard to members of certain groups as specified by the U.S. Department of Labor.  Wesleyan, therefore, makes concerted efforts to recruit, employ, and promote qualified members of minority groups, women, disabled individuals who are otherwise qualified, special disabled veterans, and veterans of the Vietnam era.

Executive Order 11246

Affirmative Action consists of the good faith efforts taken by a federal fund recipient to ensure equal opportunity and eliminate barriers to equal treatment, which have historically affected certain groups. Executive Order 11246 issued in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson requires federal contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and treated fairly without regard to their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, and Hispanic individuals are considered minorities for purposes of the Executive Order. Therefore, equal employment opportunity and affirmative action are integral elements of a contractor's agreement with the government. Organizations and companies without qualifying federal grants or contracts are not covered by Affirmative Action regulations. 

Differences Between Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Diversity 

Equal Employment Opportunity

Affirmative Action

Diversity Initiative

Legal Basis

Federal and State statutes governing employers and educational institutions, enforced by federal/state agencies, and civil courts, and shaped by judicial interpretation.

Executive Orders and other statutes governing organizations and institutions that receive federal funds.  Regulated by federal agency, and shaped by judicial interpretation when actions violate equal opportunity laws or constitutional rights.

No legal mandates or requirements.  Shaped by judicial interpretation when actions violate equal opportunity laws or constitutional rights.


To provide legal redress for violations against protected classes in employment and educational environments.

To actively promote equal opportunity for groups historically affected by discrimination and penalizing noncompliance by retracting federal grants and contracts.

To modify or change organizational culture, reduce intergroup conflict, and increase intergroup understanding and awareness of culture, and other, differences.


Discrimination claims redressed through administrative or judicial avenues.

Development of programs, policies, and procedures to address problems.

Adoption of policies, practices, and services to accommodate diverse needs.  Including, but not limited to, assessments, training, celebrations, etc.