About the Department of Higher Education
The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. (DHE) is the staff to the 13-member Board of Higher Education (BHE), responsible for executing the Board's policies and day-to-day operations.
The Equity Agenda
Recognizing the historic and persistent factors that created and continue to maintain an unequal system of public higher education, racial equity is the top policy and performance priority for the Department of Higher Education. In pursuit of racial equity and justice, the Department commits to intentionally and authentically supporting racially minoritized students harmed by systemic racism in higher education, particularly Black and Latinx students. We seek to dismantle barriers to success and work toward ensuring a just educational experience within which students thrive. The Equity Agenda represents a shift in framing, from a focus on the question of whether students are college-ready, to ensuring that colleges and universities are student-ready. The Department is committed to partnering with public institutions to usher a cultural transformation that creates and sustains a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.
At the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), we share these interconnected values:
Understanding and confronting oppression in all its forms
Answering for the outcomes of decisions and actions
Showing care and respect toward others
Facilitating others’ opportunities for growth and contribution, within teams and across DHE
Acting with purpose and clarity
Embracing the power of unity, collaboration, and collective insight
As a DHE employee, I aspire to practice these values and behaviors and commit to embody them through continued learning and personal growth:
- I seek to understand, appreciate, and interact with people of all racial, cultural, and social identities, as well as all roles and lived experiences.
- I seek to expand my knowledge and analysis of the roles that systems of injustice play in our society, on our campuses, and in our Department by:
participating fully in equity learning and training opportunities;
- practicing self-reflection and introspection; and
- striving to unlearn my harmful beliefs and behaviors.
- I commit to integrating my knowledge and analysis of key racial equity concepts into my work and my interactions.
- I practice honest and direct communication, and I constructively address issues with colleagues when they arise, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable
- I communicate in a timely and respectful manner with all colleagues, from acknowledging and honoring requests to closing loops.
- I listen actively, empathetically, and without defensiveness, testing my assumptions and seeking to understand and clarify others’ questions and observations.
- I call on myself and my colleagues to stand up and be accountable, follow through on what we promise, communicate clearly when I cannot fulfill commitments, and call attention to what we might fail to do.
- I examine my own work and actions with the same rigor that I examine others’.
- I own my mistakes, learn from them, and share my learning with others.
- I uphold an environment of us, both me and you, and I put people above work.
- I am mindful of other people’s time, workload, and need for rest, and I show care for everyone’s physical, spiritual, and mental health.
- I create and communicate realistic, goal-oriented workplans that identify what is the plan, what success looks like, what is expected for others’ time and contributions, and how this may affect other workplans in place.
- I am clear about the urgency of my asks from colleagues, and I welcome my colleagues to ask questions about the work and timelines posed.
- I am proactive and mindful in seeking and cherishing the many connections between myself and my colleagues, and how those connections can elevate our sense of trust and community.
- I exercise leadership by developing the power, skills, and knowledge of others
- I include people affected by decisions and policies in the decision-making and policy-making processes.
- I recognize and value all forms of expertise and strengths, and I amplify the voices of others in recognition of their experiences and skills.
- I appreciate and develop critical and independent thinkers.
- I work deliberatively within ambiguity and recognize there is not only one opinion or one way of thinking.
- I do not oversimplify complex issues by reducing them to either/or, right/wrong, or good/bad choices.
- I take time to pause, reflect, and plan before acting.
- I prioritize collaboration and inclusion above expediency.
- I stay open to new ideas and processes to improve the way we do things, in my work and in my field.
- I stay informed on, prioritize, and amplify the Department’s shared goals.
- I build and sustain authentic, productive working relationships with colleagues across teams, levels, and social identities.
- I collaborate and seek multiple opinions and perspectives when problem solving.
- I let my team know when I am overwhelmed, and if I know what may help, I ask for it.
- I embrace mutually agreed-upon goals and protocols in making decisions as a team, even when my individual approach or preference would be different.
- I practice and encourage information sharing within and across teams to support the effectiveness of my colleagues and the Department as a whole.
As the Department strives to develop a culture of racial equity, it is critically important that the organization’s values reflect our commitment to growing and learning together in this space. The values represent what we stand for—Equity, Accountability, Community, Empowerment, Intentionality, and Teamwork—and team members are invited to join our journey towards becoming a more racially equitable Department.