A $2,500 grant from the Scranton Area Community Foundation’s Center for Community Leadership and Nonprofit Excellence will help Lackawanna College build a multi-stage diversity and inclusion improvement plan.
The grant will provide funds for the College to hire a consultant service to assist in creating and administering a comprehensive institutional equity audit. The audit will focus on the student experience, examining organizational practices and policies related to diversity and inclusion.
“There’s a need to identify the College’s strengths and weaknesses, so we can create a more vibrant college community, improving the experience for all students, particularly those who have been traditionally marginalized and underrepresented,” said Joya Whittington, project director. “I’m grateful that we were approved for this grant so we can begin to implement institutional and social change.”
Faculty and staff members on the College’s Diversity, Equity, Justice and Inclusion (DEJI) committee will lead the project. Branching off from the audit, the committee will establish a multi-phase Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) improvement action plan and initiate short and long-term educational activities.
Kas Williams has been named Misericordia University’s Associate Vice President for Mission Integration and Institutional Diversity, announced Amy Lahart, Vice President for Mission Integration and Student Life. Williams joined the Misericordia University community in September following seven years at South Dakota State University, where she recently held the position of Chief Diversity Officer. Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Master of Arts in Student Affairs Administration from South Dakota State University.
“This position is critical to advance Misericordia University’s desire to live out its mission through vision and strategy implementation of significant diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Ms. Williams will collaborate with division directors, campus leaders, students, faculty, staff, and external constituencies to embed the critical concerns into all campus operations and provide leadership to cultivate pride in our Mercy heritage as a Mercy institution of higher education,” said Lahart.
“To me, this role looks at the quality of life that people have in and around the campus community. We can tell people all the time that we’re diverse but are we inclusive? This isn’t my quote, but I say it all the time: ‘diversity is inviting people to the dance, but inclusion is inviting people to dance’,” said Williams.
“I’ve told the folks here that they are all passionate about diversity and inclusion because they love the institution. There’s great energy around here and I’m excited to be here. It’s a great place and eight years from now I’ll be saying the same thing: the values of this institution are what keeps people here. That’s the energy that folks have. They love the hospitality. They love the social justice. They work towards that every day,” she continued.
Williams has spent her first month on campus getting to know the campus community, speaking with individual students, student groups, under-represented student groups, as well as staff and faculty. She’s delved into the most recent campus climate survey. “I read every word and every line of the campus survey. Lots of folks here are doing great work in diversity, but the work isn’t always connected. Their hearts are in the right place; they see the gaps and they want to do the work. I want to really change the conversation and make sure we are all speaking the same language of diversity and inclusion on this campus,” said Williams.
Williams looks at diversity, inclusion, and access through what she calls an equity lens. She encourages each department to look at their policies and procedures at least every six months using that equity lens. “Are some policies inadvertently affecting some communities or populations? I tell people, don’t change your policies now, just think about it. What happens is, once they start thinking about it, that becomes an everyday practice and becomes natural. Equity and inclusion doesn’t take anything away; they add to who and what we are as an institution,” she said.
The Johnson College Diversity & Inclusion Committee sponsored a food and supply drive for the NEPA Youth Shelter in honor of National Coming Out Day. A local organization that provides emergency shelter and related services to unaccompanied youth, the NEPA Youth Shelter is especially affirming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth, as this population constitutes a high percentage of unhoused youth in our area. Food, drinks, and cleaning supplies were collected on the Johnson College campus from September 27 to October 8.
For additional information on Johnson College, please call 1-800-2-WE-WORK, email email@example.com, or visit Johnson.edu.