How will the Academy really increase diversity? They're expected to announce changes today

Meeting for the first time since Oscar night, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ board of governors will gather Tuesday morning to discuss the organization’s path forward on the topic of diversity.

The closed-door meeting comes as the 51-member board must figure out how to enforce the controversial new rules it passed in January aimed at including more women and people of color among the academy’s 6,261 voting members.

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Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs is expected to nominate three new governors at Tuesday's meeting, with the goal of increasing diversity on the board -- currently Boone Isaacs and cinematography branch governor Daryn Okada are the only two board members of color.

The board, which does not release the agenda for its meetings, likely also will discuss how it expects the academy’s branches to tackle A2020, its plan to double the number of women and minority members by 2020.

Typically in the spring, each of the 17 academy branches begins considering new members, with the board approving and inviting them in June. But this year is apt to be different from any before it: As The Times reported last month, following through on A2020 would require inviting classes of at least 375 women and more than 130 people of color each year. That would suggest a dramatic shift in admissions policies given that the academy's latest class — touted as the largest and most diverse in its history — was only 322 people, most of them white men.

With women and minorities under-represented in many key Hollywood jobs, including among the executive positions that greenlight films, some branches will have their work cut out for them in reaching the board’s goals.

In a February interview, Boone Isaacs told The Times that the academy is nevertheless committed to attaining those targets.

“There are enough qualified people,” Boone Isaacs said, adding that academy leaders will “do everything in our power to meet our goals because we know that this is the right thing to do. We’re going to make it happen.”

At Tuesday’s meeting the board is also expected to clarify a new policy that has been a source of considerable anxiety and anger among current academy members -- a plan to strip voting rights from those who are no longer active in the film industry. Some academy members say the policy is ageist, while others maintain it will have the unintended consequence of pushing out more women and minorities, who have a harder time getting steady work in Hollywood.

The new rules arrived in the midst of one of the most contentious awards seasons in the academy’s history, with the group under fire for nominating an all-white slate of actors for two years in a row.

The academy has been grappling with how to diversify its ranks for years, and change has been slow: According to a Times study published in February, Oscar voters are now 91% white and 76% male, down from 94% white and 77% male in 2012.

The diversity issue is but one item the academy faces as it looks ahead -- halting falling ratings for the Oscar telecast, completing the Academy Museum in time for its scheduled 2017 opening and electing new board officers over the summer are also on the horizon.

For more academy news, follow me on Twitter: @thatrebecca.

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