USAFA looking to diversify

Dr. Adis M. Vila, right, gives a presentation on the USAFA Diversity plan to the board of visitors Feb. 4. LT. Gen. Michael Gould, front, looks on. Photo by Lisa Collacott
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The Air Force Academy Board of Visitors recently met at the academy for its quarterly meeting.

The board received updates and reports about the academy on Feb. 4 and 5. One of the reports was the USAFA Diversity Plan.

In December, Dr. Adis M. Vila was appointed chief diversity officer. It is the first time the academy has had a chief diversity officer. Gen. John Regni, superintendent from October 2005 to June 2009, decided there was a need for a diversity plan. The diversity plan is in direct support of diversity objectives contained within the USAFA Strategic Plan and the USAFA Mission Elements Strategic Plan.

Vila presented to the board of visitors the outline of the vision or goals, road map or steps, and the next steps of the plan for the academy.

“We want to create an inclusive culture,” Vila said. “We have to get diversity right.”

Vila’s role is to promote the academy’s goals of a diverse workforce and cadet wing by visibly providing strong leadership and commitment to diversity, broadening outreach and recruitment, strengthening institutional diversity infrastructures, developing and implementing a strategic diversity plan, cultivating diversity awareness, and monitoring the success.

One of the steps is to integrate inclusiveness in all programs, events and activities at the school.

“Inclusiveness is about embracing diversity among us,” Vila said.

Vila said diversity does not only include gender, ethnicity or religion. There are other diverse areas to include that the academy will be working on.

In a separate interview with the Tribune, Vila said she will be meeting with the mission elements to talk about how they integrate diversity into what they do every day. They include the faculty, cadets, athletics and the wing.

For example, Vila said if they were to prepare cadets to go over to the Middle East they would want to bring in faculty that is diverse in knowledge about the Middle East. They might need a professor that knows the language, another might know the geography, and another might teach cadets how the government is run.

“How can we get a more diverse faculty?” Vila asked.

She also talked about needing a plan to attract students from rural areas of the country to the academy, which includes reaching out to parents.

“A diverse environment, a diverse Air Force is critical to the mission,” Vila said.

Vila is talking to organizations in the public and private sectors to see what has worked for them regarding diversity. The academy’s plan will highlight the most effective programs, eliminate the least effective and redeploy resources. It will also measure the effectiveness of the programs and institute metrics to hold senior leaders accountable.

“(The plan) has significance for tomorrow, but the importance is it has significance long term,” Vila said.

Vila previously served as assistant secretary of administration for the Department of Agriculture.

The board of visitors will meet again in May in Washington, D.C. It meets quarterly, twice at the academy and twice in D.C., to review morale and discipline, social climate, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the academy.

Vila plans to share an enhanced diversity plan at the May meeting.