As part of its continuing commitment to create a more diverse and inclusive campus, Centre President John A. Roush recently announced a number of new initiatives in an April 26 message to the campus community.
First, Centre will convert the recently created coordinator of diversity and inclusion programming position from a two-year to a permanent position. Originally modeled on Centre’s several “fellow” positions, intended to be entry-level roles filled by recent graduates, students and others have expressed an interest in expanding the position. The change will take place as part of the departure of the inaugural coordinator, Kiana Fields ’15, who is headed off to graduate school after excellent work in this role.
Second, the College will add a counselor position in the Parsons Health Center focused on multicultural issues, initially in a part-time role. The job was recently advertised and an appointment may occur soon.
Third, and as an extension of recent campus-wide training in the area of Title IX issues, Centre will offer similar training to focus on diversity, inclusion and multicultural awareness. Vice President Kay Drake, who oversees human resources and administrative services, in addition her role as the campus Title IX coordinator, hopes to begin training this summer.
And fourth, tied to the recently completed Campus Master Plan process, additional conversations will address the need for a multicultural center, focusing on near-term and longer-term solutions. These discussions will be led by Chief Planning Officer Patrick Noltemeyer, beginning May 1.
“Our efforts remain a work in progress,” said Roush, “and I respect the way in which our students have shown passion and leadership to advocate for these important changes. We have heard them and are doing what we can, understanding that there are some fiscal constraints.”
In his campus message, Roush made clear that the values of diversity and inclusion were the focus of conversation at the recent Centre College board of trustees meeting, held April 12-13. Two well-attended campus-wide community forums have also taken place recently, at which students, faculty and staff have talked broadly and focused as well on the specific topics of building trust, practical next steps and where we are as a community.
In addition, climate surveys — one for students is already complete and another for faculty and staff is in process — will help provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback on campus attitudes about diversity and inclusion. The surveys are supported by a recent $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York to enhance diversity and inclusion on campus.
Faculty recruitment has also been supported by the Mellon grant, resulting in the hiring of new underrepresented faculty in studio art and sociology, along with related hires in mathematics and Spanish.
Despite these efforts, Roush is quick to admit what he hopes is clear to everyone. “There is always more work to be done, and it is challenging and rewarding all at the same time.”
He is also insistent that the values of diversity and inclusion are central to his longtime focus on educating global citizens and citizen-leaders.
“Fundamentally, we are committed to building and strengthening a world enriched by difference, based on the dignity and welfare of others. And this will always be the hallmark of a Centre education.”
by Michael Strysick
April 27, 2018