The Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Community Impact (EICI) assists the University of Southern Maine (USM) in the development of an integrated and sustainable strategy for creating an inclusive and equitable learning and working environment. In addition, the Office provides leadership for the University’s initiatives to enhance the cultural competence and humility of faculty, staff, and students. Under the leadership of the Vice President for Equity, Inclusion, and Community Impact, our University aims to institutionalize its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Our goal is to create opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to increase their commitment to a culture of inclusion and belonging.

Strategic Priority 3: Lead on Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

With students who have come to Maine from all over the world, we seek to be a leader for the State of Maine in equity, inclusion, and belonging, and we are deeply committed to better serving our students and our entire community.

Defining our terminology

The terms we use carry great weight, meaning, and history. When we talk about diversity, inclusion, equity, accessibility, and belonging, we refer to the following definitions.

  • Diversity: Individual differences (such as personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences. Our differences may include race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, and other affiliations.
  • Inclusion: The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity — in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities with which individuals might connect — in ways that increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.
  • Equity: The creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented populations to have equal access to and participate in educational programs that are capable of closing the achievement gaps in student success and completion.
  • Accessibility: The design of materials, services, or environments for people with disabilities that ensures both direct access (unassisted) and indirect access. Indirect access means that the materials, services, or environments are compatible with a person’s assistive technology — for example, computer screen readers.
  • Belonging: The extent to which individuals feel like valued, accepted, and legitimate members in their academic domain. Academic belonging is a logical extension of the general sense of belonging to a group or community.
For college students, a sense of belonging refers to perceived social support and connectedness, and a sense of fitting into the larger college community.
Students hold hands during a dedication at the unveiling of the mural, “tan wetapeksultiyiq – where we come from” created by Marissa Joly ’21. The mural, which includes language and motifs of the Passamaquoddy and Mi’kmaq, is the featured backdrop for an area dedicated to Wabanaki history in the McGoldrick Center for Career & Student Success. See the mural and read more.
The University of Southern Maine is an EEO/AA employer, and does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity, 101 North Stevens Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5754, 207.581.1226, TTY 711 (Maine Relay System).