Delaware State University placed an exclamation mark on its embrace and acceptance of everyone on campus during a March 2 Diversity and Inclusion Kickoff event in the MLK Jr. Student Center.
The event – attended by administrators, faculty, staff, and students – was the culmination of a three-year project by the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, established in Spring 2017 by then-University President Harry L. Williams.
University President Tony Allen opened up the kickoff by sharing some of his story of being a child raised in a single-parent home, the son of an estranged father. He noted the importance of sharing individual life stories with each other and thereby enabling community members to connect with each other in a more meaningful way. “And then watch the magic happen.”
The event featured the findings of a 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Survey conducted by the Task Force. Pamela Mosley Gresham, the Task Force chairperson, shared the resulting recommendations and proposed actions:
- Concerted efforts need to be made to promote a supportive and inclusive environment at the University. This could include the development of program and initiatives on campus to explore cultural identity and enhance intercultural competence. There is also a need to strengthen positive relationships among diverse identity groups at the University.
- There is a need to identify challenges to the institution’s physical compliance with the American Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and draw a road map at the University to improve physical access for persons with disabilities.
- To ensure a real commitment to customer service and its basic functions, training in the area of telephone skills, and face-to-face service delivery should be implemented.
- Programs should be developed that provide education and engagement in the areas of LGBTQ+ space and the consequences of bullying and harassment.
Dr. Irene Chapman-Hawkins, Chief Administrative Officer and Vice President of Human Resources, presented the members of the Task Force that developed the survey, analyzed its findings and developed the resulting recommendations and proposed action plan: Pamela Mosley, Gresham, Quesi Bannerman, Dr. Francine Edwards, Trinette Fonseca, Ann Knettler, Dr. Young-Ski Kwak, Dawn Mosley, Kevin Noriega, Dr. Nirmaljit Rathee, Dr. John Rich, Jordin Williams, Candy Young, and ex-officio members Dr. Chapman-Hawkins and Dr. Stacy Downing.
The University’s Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Analytics also assisted the Task Force in the administration of the survey
With the culmination of its work as a Task Force, that group has now been re-established as the Diversity and Inclusion Council, which will continue to look at best practices and place greater emphasis on communication and outreach.
At the end of the event, the University President signed the following proclamation:
Delaware State University is committed to being the most diverse, contemporary HBCU in the United States. To do that, we work diligently to be a campus environment that encompasses structural and social differences which foster a diverse and inclusive community. In concert with Delaware State University’s core values (Diversity, Integrity, Scholarship, Community and Outreach), our mission is to engage our stakeholders and perpetuate initiatives that enhance the diversity and inclusion of our campus.
Delaware State University stands as one inclusive community. Working together, we share the common belief that we need to understand, accept and support multicultural and individual differences.
Evaluate what diversity looks like at Delaware State University, measure progress, and identify issues of concern among the University community.
Establish practices to foster an environment in which students and employees embrace and promote inclusion and understanding of the value of diversity.
Establish opportunities for the external community to be engaged with our diverse campus.
Develop strategic practices and procedures on how to address sensitive issues, formal policies on diversity and promote diversity initiatives campus-wide.
Support an organizational structure that encourages efforts for diversity and inclusion.
Tony Allen, Ph.D.
President, Delaware State University