Faculty initiates diversity

Sam Malone

With racial tensions growing in the United States, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has attempted to dissolve this issue by providing diversity workshops to faculty.

Janice Hamlet, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said her goal in organizing this workshop is to give the department chairs a chance to further understand their roles in diversity inclusion.

“[The workshop] was surrounded by the need for department chairs to understand that their leadership is critical to advancing diversity,” Hamlet said.

Hamlet got permission from Christopher McCord, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and organized workshops for department chairs.

Faculty members play a big role in the college’s diversity, and what they do can have a large impact on how students view NIU, Hamlet said. For the workshops, she brought in two diversity experts to speak to the department chairs about how they can be more inclusive.

David Chagnon, Geography Department chair in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, attended the diversity workshops. Chagnon, who is responsible for hiring staff in his department, said Illinois is seeing a population increase in minorities, but the college does not have a diverse faculty that reflects this.

“It made me reflect early in the workshop that we are teaching to a diverse population now, and that will only continue,” Chagnon said. “It’s interesting though; if you look at the faculty in our university, it doesn’t really reflect that level of diversity.”

One-third of students are underrepresented minorities, and that number is growing, according to statistics given at the workshop.

Hamlet said one important step in moving forward with inclusion is making sure the faculty grows in its diversity. Chagnon hopes to propel this change while he is hiring new staff members for his department as soon as next semester.

Before he can hire more diverse staff members, Chagnon said he will be strategically promoting new positions in his department.

“I see this as a journey. For all of us, we’re just sort of starting this journey,” Chagnon said.