With a focus on shaping a welcoming, inclusive campus culture, Hollins University President Nancy Gray moderated the first-ever Presidential Forum on Diversity and Inclusion at the 2017 Presidents Institute, presented by The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).
The largest annual gathering of college and university presidents in the United States, the Presidents Institute this year explored the theme, “Education for America’s Future.” Guarding freedom of speech, growing diversity, building inclusive communities, and encouraging global awareness were among the topics of interest.
The forum, which also featured leaders from DePaul University, Ithaca College, Jarvis Christian College, and Oberlin College, looked at ways to nurture a campus atmosphere “where students, faculty, and staff are free to express their views while remaining respectful of those who disagree,” according to the CIC newsletter Independent. “The candid discussion began with observations from college and university presidents who have encountered concerns about inequality, injustice, diversity, inclusion, or free expression on their campuses.”
Gray delivered a summary of the campus climate survey that Hollins administered in December 2015. “Overall, the survey data suggested that Hollins had a welcoming and respectful environment for students, faculty, and staff but that there were significant differences in perceptions and experiences depending on race, ethnicity, gender, and political perspective,” the Independent reports. “For example, students of color rated the campus less welcoming and less respectful than the overall rating. ‘The good news,’ [Gray] said, ‘was that an overwhelming majority of survey participants said “we can do better” and “we want to do better.”’”
The Independent continues, “The university’s leadership identified several actions they could take to foster a more inclusive and diverse community: offer professional development for faculty and staff members; provide leadership training for students; offer new educational programs and activities for students during orientation; review and change hiring procedures; hire a new diversity officer; engage in dialogues with community members; and appoint an on-campus heritage committee to study the institutional history of slavery with representatives joining other colleges and universities studying the same issues.”
The CIC’s 2017 Presidents Institute was held January 4 – 7 in Orlando, Florida.
Photo: The Presidential Forum on Diversity and Inclusion featured presidents (from left to right) Marvin Krislov of Oberlin College, Lester C. Newman of Jarvis Christian College, Thomas R. Rochon of Ithaca College, Dennis H. Holtschneider, CM, of DePaul University, and Nancy Gray of Hollins.
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