Cultivating a Climate of Respect, Strength and Solidarity
NC State faculty, students and staff:
I hope that all of our new and returning students are settling productively into the 2017-18 academic year, and I want to enthusiastically cheer on all of our hardworking faculty and staff. I am excited to continue the work we accomplished last year, which was my first as a member of the Wolfpack. We have many initiatives underway in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity for which I would like to provide some updates.
Before doing so, I would like to reiterate Chancellor Woodson’s recent message:
“NC State’s strength comes from its people – all its people – and their diversity of thought and experience. Each and every one of you is a welcomed, valued, important part of our Wolfpack.
“As we launch a new academic year, I encourage all members of our campus to engage in the free, open and honest exchange of ideas in an environment where all are treated with dignity and civility.
“The NC State community will likely be challenged by individuals or groups who desire to promote bigotry, racism and/or hate to divide our campus, our state and our nation. I implore all in our Wolfpack community to unite, show respect for one another, allow for differing opinions, and stand firmly against intolerance and hate.”
As we overcome the challenges ahead, it is important for all of us to continue the work that we do every day to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion at NC State.
I am pleased to provide updates on the following recruitment and retention initiatives:
Our cultural competency training initiative team worked together with faculty advisors from several departments to research resources, survey faculty and staff and develop a proposal and website. The proposed training program will enhance participants’ skills in working and interacting competently across cultures. The team has expanded to include representatives from each college, the Global Training Initiative and several members of the faculty advisory group.
A task force appointed by the chancellor to provide recommendations for improving the recruitment and retention of diverse students, particularly graduate students, has completed its charge, with a report in the final stages. The task force worked into the summer and is looking forward to recommendations and outcomes from the report in the coming semester.
Unconscious bias training continues to be part of NC State Police training and is also available to any NC State student, staff or faculty member free of charge, along with many other diversity and equity workshops and customized training opportunities for your groups.
We have also made progress on the following student success initiatives:
Multicultural Students Affairs has hired a new director, Nashia Whittenburg, and a new assistant director for community outreach and engagement, Marcela Torres-Cervantes. We welcome our new staff members and are confident that Multicultural Student Affairs will be able to serve our students better than ever before with increased support for our campus communities. Additional staffing improvements in Multicultural Student Affairs are in progress, including support for the Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and related organizations.
A task force appointed to reexamine the General Education Program U.S. Diversity course requirement for undergraduate students has completed its charge. The task force reviewed previous diversity study reports, the credit-bearing courses that currently satisfy the requirement, information about non-credit programs and experiential offerings on campus and possible continuance models that could encompass a student’s entire tenure at NC State while keeping in mind how to best provide a robust and meaningful diversity education. After its concluding meeting at the end of spring semester 2017, the task force forwarded a set of recommendations to university leadership for consideration. We look forward to the next steps in the process of ensuring that our students receive the best opportunities for fulfilling this important part of NC State’s educational curriculum.
We continue to work together with the Division of Academic and Student Affairs to provide diversity workshops on numerous topics for student organizations and leaders as well as year-round programming, including Diversity Education Week, Fall and Spring Diversity Dialogues, and events such as the Tunnel of Oppression, the Week of Action and our heritage and awareness month programs.
Please continue to use the Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Spaces on campus as a place for quiet thought or prayer, as desired. We have worked to establish these spaces for all community members and will continue to look for ways to enhance them. See go.ncsu.edu/spaces-interfaith for a full listing of all spaces on campus.
I would like to share that we have made great progress in establishing two key strategic initiatives in the past year:
The NC State Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) launched on April 4, 2017. Led by Senior Director for Campus Community Centers Reggie Barnes, BIRT provides a process through which individuals can report incidents of bias that may occur on campus and for the university to examine the details and circumstances of the incidents to decrease and eliminate future occurrences. BIRT will report annually on data gathered. The website provides a wealth of bias-related information and links to appropriate resources while creating a one-stop reporting form for students, faculty and staff to be able to report a variety of bias incidents.
Together with University Communications, we established a web presence for diversity on the NC State home page to better inform the campus community and the general public about diversity-related news and developments. You will find this resource, which is updated monthly, at www.ncsu.edu/diversity. The page is positioned as a top-level navigational link, communicating that diversity is a critical university priority along with admissions, research and academics. University Communications has worked to consistently and broadly promote stories and institutional messages on all its platforms that highlight the value and critical importance of diversity at NC State.
In the coming year, we are planning the following new initiatives:
The Bias Incident Response Team will develop and implement restorative practices designed to improve campus climate and equip community members with the skills needed to appropriately confront offensive speech and to encourage them to take responsibility for actions that negatively impact others.
Our cultural competency training initiative is preparing for a fall semester rollout of a pilot training for faculty and staff. Look for additional information about this initiative, a redesigned website and promotional materials in the coming weeks.
Please join us for many enriching programs that will take place this semester:
Our Multicultural Student Affairs office presents a month of programs for Latinx Heritage Month from September 15 – October 15. See go.ncsu.edu/lhm.
The Women’s Center will host the annual Chocolate Festival for Breast Cancer Research on September 15. Tickets are still available online at go.ncsu.edu/chocolate.
October is GLBT History Month, with a month of programs during October from the GLBT Center. See go.ncsu.edu/glbthm.
The Women’s Center will present an array of programs for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. I encourage you to take part in these important and educational activities. See the Women’s Center website for information about interpersonal violence services.
The African American Cultural Center Art Gallery will open a new exhibition titled, “Be:tween Words,” from September 14 – October 22 featuring the work of visual artist and filmmaker Brandan “Bmike” Odums. See go.ncsu.edu/odums for details.
Diversity Education Week, with this year’s fall campus Diversity Dialogue speaker, social media activist, writer and comedian Franchesca Ramsey, will take place October 22-28. Campus organizations wishing to host a program, please see go.ncsu.edu/dewsubmissions. The calendar of events will be published in early October on Guidebook.
The Diversity Mini-Grant program will accept applications for diversity initiative proposals from anyone on campus through Friday, October 6. Please see go.ncsu.edu/diversityminigrants.
These programs and many more are listed on the signature events page on the OIED website. Please join us throughout the year.
In addition, please consider taking a diversity or equity workshop. For those who wish to make even more of a difference, consider joining NC State’s nationally-recognized NCBI Team.
We invite you to work together with us to cultivate a climate of respect, strength and solidarity to make NC State an example of inclusive excellence for all to follow.
Linda McCabe Smith
Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity
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