A Long-Standing Dedication to Diversity and Inclusivity

Diversity and Inclusivity

March 30, 2016

single-paper-background Hollins sign

Hollins has long been committed to fostering a campus community that encourages and values diversity and inclusivity. Ours is a culture of respect and a campus of tolerance.

Working to abolish prejudice never ends and Hollins is committed to promoting racial and cultural understanding. Most notably:

  • Over the years, our Student Government Association, Black Student Alliance, OUTloud, Spiritual and Religious Life Association, and other student clubs and organizations, along with faculty and staff, have developed a variety of activities and implemented programs that support diversity and inclusivity.
  • Cultural and Community Engagement (CCE) was created to support an inclusive community, promote acceptance, and celebrate difference. It includes the Early Transition Program, which is designed to assist new students from underrepresented groups, and the International Student Orientation Program, which focuses on helping international students adjust to living and studying at Hollins and in the United States. CCE also conducts Safe Haven workshops for those who want to serve as advocates for Hollins’ LBGTQ community.
  • Educating Women Who Will Make a Difference in the 21st Century, Hollins’ five-year strategic plan launched in 2006, reiterated our dedication “to high standards of respect, civility, and concern for others. Students must understand their own place and perspective within the context of an increasingly diverse society.” Hollins has promoted academic and experiential learning opportunities in support of this pledge. Connecting Liberal Arts Education and Experience to Achieve Results, the five-year strategic plan guiding the university through 2017, continues this commitment.
  • Last spring, Hollins announced a plan to further these efforts. We held listening sessions with students; conducted training sessions for faculty to help them lead classroom discussions where every student can feel respected; and provided workshops for student affairs staff and student leaders. Hollins’ New Student Orientation has added a program for incoming first-year students that is devoted to cultural competency and inclusivity.
  • In November 2015, Hollins administered a climate assessment survey. Its purpose was to gather important feedback regarding the university’s diversity and inclusivity strengths, and the areas where further community-building is needed. The results of the survey were the catalyst for a series of insight conversations where students can share perspectives and build capacity for critical dialogue. These discussions began in early March and will continue through the spring and the next academic year.
  • President Gray is currently finalizing appointments to the new Hollins Heritage Committee, a group of students, faculty, and staff who will help us develop a greater understanding of our history and seek ways to recognize and honor the mid-19th century slaves and others whose work ensured the institution’s survival during its early years. Scholarships were established more than a decade ago for the descendants of Oldfields, a nearby African-American community that played an instrumental role in the institution’s growth.

Hollins has and will continue to sponsor or participate in events that illuminate important issues related to diversity, inclusivity, and cultural history. A few examples include:

  • Distinguished speakers such as filmmaker Spike Lee, economist Julianne Malveaux, and educator Johnnetta Cole.
  • Hollins Theatre’s stage adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner and Hollins alumna Natasha Trethewey’s poetry collection, Bellocq’s Ophelia.
  • A screening of the Oscar-nominated film Selma, which brought together six Roanoke Valley higher education institutions to promote discussions about equal rights.

Hollins’ goal is one we should all share: to encourage and ultimately become even more of a community that is welcoming, empowering, and prepared to engage in a civil and constructive exchange of ideas.