As we begin the 2016-17 academic year, diversity, equity and inclusion continue to be central to many important and pressing local, national and international issues. Conversations about and across differences of gender, religion, sexuality orientation, race and ethnicity are more urgent than ever. At the same time, many of us may feel ill-prepared to engage in these often difficult conversations. Our present context calls for courage and an increased willingness to think and talk about, as well as take action, to foster diversity and inclusion inside the university and beyond.
The College of Arts and Sciences has taken several important steps in recent months toward the goal of fostering diversity and inclusion. Dean Kevin Guskiewicz has prioritized diversity since assuming the deanship in January. He has formed a Dean’s Faculty Advisory Committee on Diversity, which includes faculty from all three divisions in the College.
The College has also sponsored six Understanding Differences workshops for faculty since December 2015, with more planned for this fall (see the Diversity Events tab at left for details.) These workshops provide College faculty an opportunity to reflect on and discuss individual and structural forms of marginalization, power and privilege.
I want to personally thank all the faculty who have participated in the Understanding Differences workshops thus far. The College will continue building on the shared conceptual framework provided by the workshops in the coming months. Additional opportunities to learn about and reflect on issues of diversity and inclusion will be offered by the College, as well as by the University. We are also working to provide College faculty with tools and strategies to enhance diversity and inclusion in their roles as colleagues, teachers and mentors.
The new academic year began with the Fourth Annual Diversity THINKposium, which focused on “The Lived Experience of Difference.” This important event provided an opportunity for nearly 400 faculty and staff from across campus to hear presentations on student advising, communities and policing, and the browning and graying of America.
I also want to call your attention to a new university-wide diversity calendar that has been introduced this school year.
In my role as the director of faculty diversity initiatives in the College, I have had the opportunity to see the tremendous commitment to diversity among our faculty, chairs and diversity liaisons, as well as across the University. While the challenges before us are real and often daunting, I believe a strong foundation is in place to achieve inclusive excellence among College students, faculty and staff. Please join us in the journey to make the College a place where all members of our community can succeed and thrive.
Director of Faculty Diversity Initiatives