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‘Walking the Talk in DEI’ Covers Progress, Insights, and Inspiration at Cabrini

Posted on 12/8/2021 3:53:35 PM

The Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) hosted the “Walking the Talk in DEI” Community Dialogue on Tuesday, November 30, featuring voices from Cabrini students, faculty, staff, and Trustees. The event served to update the Cabrini community on the past, present, and future of diversity-focused initiatives on campus — both curricular and co-curricular — while offering space for participants to offer constructive feedback.

“By being together today, celebrating each other, and lifting each other up, we are trying to engender a sense of belonging—that we are truly part of the Cabrini community,” said Angela N. Campbell, PhD, Vice President of Mission, DEI, and Student Engagement.

Chioma Ugochukwu, PhD, Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs, detailed many of the ongoing and upcoming initiatives designed to foster a sense of belonging on campus. In addition to the updated Core Curriculum announced in March 2021 — which incorporates Black Studies and Religious Studies coursework into the required curriculum for every Cabrini student — the University has enhanced hiring practices to ensure job openings are communicated to diverse applicants, while mandating advisory services to help every Cabrini student overcome barriers on their academic journeys.

“I believe we must do everything we can to protect our core and our mission, and help our students appreciate the concept of respecting differences and respecting the values of Catholic Social Teaching,” Ugochukwu said.

Darryl Mace, PhD, Chair and Professor, History and Political Science, offered a historical perspective on Cabrini’s diversity efforts, beginning with the 2009 formation of the Diversity Task Force on which he served. This task force became a permanent body in 2012 with the formation of the Inclusivity Council, which then expanded in 2020 to include members of the Board of Trustees under the title DEI Advisory Council. The Office of DEIB was officially formed in 2021.

“The arc of Cabrini’s moral universe has bent toward justice and belonging,” Mace said, teasing a famous Martin Luther King, Jr. quote. “[The Office of DEIB] isn’t dropped out of nowhere — it’s the realization of a lot of hard work from many people. This is not the end, this arc continues.”

Board of Trustees member Eric Tidwell (’96), who co-chairs the DEI Advisory Council along with Campbell and Ronald W. Whitaker II, EdD, Director of the Center for Urban Education, Equity, and Improvement, continued: “[DEI work] is something that’s ingrained in the fabric of this community and has been going on for many years.”

Earlier this year, the DEI Advisory Council drafted a strategic plan with actionable tactics and goals to bring accountability to the institution and advance change through holistic education of not only students, but also faculty and staff, Tidwell said.

With widespread education and understanding in mind, the Office of DEIB also joined the Liberal Arts College Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA) out of the University of Southern California in 2021, which provides faculty and staff with regular workshops, resources, and support as they strive to create equity and belonging on campus.

“Education is continuous, no matter your race or religion,” Tidwell said. “We look forward to continuing to do good work.”

“Walking the Talk in DEI” panelists included:

  • Moderator: Lailah Dunbar-Keeys, Director, Office of DEIB
  • Prayer: Sister Christine Baltas, MSC (ʼ66), Campus Ministry Associate
  • Centering Reflection: Raymond Ward, PhD, Director, Wolfington Center
  • Welcome Remarks: Angela N. Campbell, PhD, Vice President of Mission, DEI, and Student Engagement
  • Ongoing University DEI Initiatives: Chioma Ugochukwu, PhD, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs
  • Cabrini’s DEI History: Darryl Mace, PhD, Chair and Professor, History and Political Science
  • DEI Advisory Council Update: Eric Tidwell (’96), Board of Trustees, Co-Chair, DEI Advisory Council
  • School of Education DEI Update: Ronald W. Whitaker II, EdD, Assistant Dean, School of Education, and Director, Center for Urban Education, Equity, and Improvement
  • LACRELA & NACCC Survey Campaign: Michelle Filling-Brown, PhD, Associate Provost, Academic Affairs
  • Educators for Social Justice Student Organization: Zakia Y. Gates, PhD, Assistant Professor, Education
  • Narrative Arts Curriculum: Amy Lee Persichetti, EdD, Chair and Associate Professor, English
  • Center for Student Success and Men of Color Leadership Academy: Angie Martinez, Assistant Director, First-Year Experience and Student Transitions
  • Internship Opportunities for BIPOC Students: Saleem Brown (ʼ04), Executive Director, Community Development and External Relations
  • Alumni DEI Update: Sherrise Rowe, Director, Alumni Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Campus Ministry DEI Update: Guilherme Lopes, MPS, Director, Campus Ministry
  • DEI Impact Experiences: Jemmy Medina Raya (ʼ21), Next Steps AmeriCorps Program Coordinator, Wolfington Center; Armani Parker (’23), Co-President Black Student Union; Samar Dahleh (ʼ21), Graduate Assistant, Office of DEIB; Jasmine Greene, Coordinator, Office of DEIB