Three new diversity groups

April 23, 2009


University President John DeGioia announced the formation of three new working groups at a public forum Monday evening to address campus diversity issues—concerns first brought up by the Student Commission for Unity, and brought to a fore by the Hoya’s April Fools issue. The three groups will address diversity issues in the context of academics, admissions, and student life.

DeGioia said the working groups would be composed of students, faculty and staff and will be established by the end of the semester. He said he expected them to finalize and present their recommendations by early next semester.

The first group will be led by Provost Jim O’Donnell and focus on incorporating cross-cultural learning into the curriculum. The admissions group, to be co-chaired by Dean of Admissions Charlie Deacon and Senior Vice President for Strategic Development Dan Porterfield, will examine recruitment and improvement for the yield rate of minority students. The student life group, to be led by Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, will identify improvements to New Student Orientation, Residential Life programming, and leadership development for student clubs.

SCU Co-Chair Brian Kesten (COL ’10) said the commission met with DeGioia to discuss establishing these working groups a few months ago, but the Hoya’s April Fools issue illustrated the need for the groups.
“We would have pushed until they [established the groups] but there’s no doubt that six pages of the Hoya said what 350 pages of a SCUnity report and hundreds of students had been saying for months,” Kesten said. “[The April Fools issue] made it impossible to ignore.”

Kesten said he believes the groups will be effective because they will involve people with the power to put in place the comprehensive changes.

NAACP President Jheanelle Brown (SFS ’10), however, does not share Kesten’s optimism.
“[Working groups] are kind of tedious, but there are only so many things you can do institutionally,” Brown said. “I just hope that if we get more support it’s really genuine and not appeasement or image construction.”

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