Over the last two weeks, the search committee for the Associate Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity brought four candidates to campus. The candidate will become a member of the President’s cabinet and will be responsible for coordinating efforts to establish excellence in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity throughout the St. Mary’s community.
The need for a diversity officer comes after a year of unrest, from the recent tragedies we witnessed in Orlando, Baton Rouge, Dallas, overseas in Turkey and France, to the tensions surrounding this year’s Presidential election, as well as the disturbing events on our own campus. The final candidates were narrowed to the pool of a small number of qualified individuals including: Dr. Kortet Mensah, Dr. Sybol Anderson—currently an Associate Professor of Philosophy at SMCM, Dr. Ande Diaz, and Dr. Idella Glenn.
The search committee held forums throughout September 13 to the 23. The candidates were invited for the whole campus community to hear from each. In her letter on the college website, President Tuajuanda C. Jordan addressed the need for the candidates to be on campus, stating, “For such a key position, it is important for the entire campus to have the opportunity to select this individual.” The forums were opened to all students and staff.
Dr. Idella Goodson Glenn was the last candidate to visit the campus. The forum was attended by approximately ten people on Friday, September 23 in Schaefer Hall. The ambience was casual and comfortable. The candidate’s resume was also made available for the attendees. Dr. Glenn spoke of her work experience with diversity. She mentioned how she developed her own conference with regional universities including her alma mater, Furman University, expanded the number of multicultural groups, and created a direct student counseling program.
At the end of each forum, there was a Q&A session. One attendee asked Dr. Glenn, “What kind of strategies do you have to deal with people who do not think there is a problem of racism on campus?” She replied that she would develop a university dialogue using the St. Mary’s Way or cultivate a relationship with the students to understand the reason why they feel this way. She concluded by saying, “It’s not what we have to do, it’s what we need to do.” Asked about her stance on recruiting more staff of color, she replied, “I would start with the people that are already here, cultivate those relationships. Then hire people who bring different perspectives.”
A survey was then sent out at the end of each forum, in order for the committee to consider the feedback of the faculty and student attendees. At time of printing, a decision has not yet been made in the search for an AVP, but the news is expected to be forthcoming.