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CLAS leadership engages in diversity training

September 19, 2016

clas-diversity-workshop2Department chairs and interdisciplinary program directors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recently took progressive steps in the area of diversity by engaging in a two-day diversity training workshop.

“The workshop focused on helping department chairs to understand that academic leadership involves more than executing college and university policies,” said Janice Hamlet, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and coordinator of the workshop. “They also necessarily must be diversity leaders in the executing of policy and practices and agents for social change.”

“If diversity is to be considered the core of the college’s mission, then it has to be demonstrated in the leadership, manifested in the curriculum, the pedagogy and in everything that we do and say,” added Hamlet.

The workshop was facilitated by Edna Chun, chief learning officer for Higher Ed Talent, a national diversity and human resources consulting firm, and author of the book, The Department Chair as Transformative Diversity Leader, along with Charles Behling, retired academic director of the Intergroup Relations Program at the University of Michigan.

Workshop activities included how to approach issues of diversity, student identity development, recruitment and hiring and creating a culture of conversation around diversity.

Judy Ledgerwood, anthropology professor and director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, said the workshop was beneficial because it dealt with multiple aspects of the diversity issues chairs and directors face.

“These issues include how to best seek out diverse candidates for faculty positions, how to help retain such faculty once hired and how to be supportive of diverse students in our roles as teachers and as administrators,” said Ledgerwood. “We had frank discussions about how we could move forward on a range of issues.”

“I found the workshop to be informative and helpful as I begin to think about ways to articulate issues of diversity and inclusion into departmental efforts,” said David Changnon, professor and chair of the Department of Geography. “For me, as a new department chair, I will need to work closely with faculty and staff to create a framework to move forward on diversity issues. I view this as a long-term process that involves reflection and assessment by all participants.”

“I wanted to come away from the workshop with two to three concrete steps I can take to help my department become more inclusive and diverse,” said Ralph Wheeler, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “Instead, I left with many more.”

Wheeler noted that the workshop provided an opportunity to network with other department chairs to learn how they foster a more inclusive environment in their departments, as well as a chance to reflect on how his own classroom management can improve.

Hamlet said that the college plans to have follow-up sessions focusing on the take-aways from the workshop.

For more information, contact Hamlet at (815) 743-7014 or [email protected].