Home > Reflections    


At the close of the project, a number of project leaders looked back upon their experiences throughout the assessment project and ahead to the university’s continuing work toward diversity and inclusion goals. Their reflections provide unique insights regarding what the participants learned, as well as their hopes and expectations for how this work can be used in the future. Each research team is represented in the following responses.

STRUCTURES AND RESOURCES

Reflections from Dr. Thierry Leger, Phase Two Team Leader

What were the most meaningful lessons you learned from participating in the Diversity and Equity Assessment Initiative? How will they be important to your own future work around diversity?

“Knowing where we are—in this case with diversity and equity—is essential before we can begin making progress. Assessment should remain an integral part of the Diversity and Equity initiative on campus. When tackling such a big issue, working in small groups, with team leaders, and the committee of the whole is a very effective way to proceed. This approach, maybe in a somewhat modified form, might be useful when organizing the University Diversity & Equity Forum.
Often times, staff and faculty issues are different and there is the perception of a great divide between the two categories of employees. It is important to bring staff and faculty to the table together to address those issues. Research on diversity and equity should involve staff and students as well as faculty.”

What are your own personal hopes for KSU in regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the future?

“That one day, in the not too distant future, the entire KSU community will view diversity as a treasure that should be celebrated, cherished, protected, and encouraged on campus and in the community, so much so that issues of equity and inclusion have become irrelevant.”

Reflections from Dr. Katherine Kinnick, Phase One Team Leader

“My hopes for this project are that we will continue to view programs that enhance work/life balance for female faculty, parents and caregivers as a key component of diversity efforts on this campus. Lack of paid maternity leave; lack of a child development center or other childcare for faculty, staff and non-traditional students; lack of discussion about extending the tenure clock for female faculty who give birth or are the primary caregivers of young children or elderly parents—all of these are critical issues in diversity programs that support women, in particular. Diversity efforts need to continue to address the mismatch between workplace policies mired in the 1950s and the workforce of more than 50% women that we have today on this campus.”

RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION

Reflections from Ivan Pulinkala, Phase Two Team Leader

“I feel honored to have been a part of the KSU Diversity and Equity Assessment Initiative. The experience helped shape my personal perspective about diversity and inclusion, and allowed me to experience diversity through the multifaceted approach that was integral to the KSU model. As a junior faculty member at KSU, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve this initiative and collaborate with multiple levels of faculty, staff and administrators. The strength of this assessment initiative was in its level of inclusion that broke all administrative barriers, with a focus of providing an environment that welcomed and supported everyone. This experience has helped me evaluate diversity in my academic area (dance), and will serve as a point of reference for my next research topic, that will take a historic look at diversity in the context of concert dance and university dance programs in the country.”

CAMPUS CLIMATE

Reflections from Dr. Jorge Perez, Phase One and Phase Two Team Leader

What were the most meaningful lessons you learned from participating in the Diversity and Equity Assessment Initiative? How will they be important to your own future work around diversity?

“I learned the role of compassion in enlightened leadership. The work reinforced that my own compassion is a distinctive competency, which has had a significant effect on my interaction with others in my various roles at KSU. I gained a new appreciation for the fact that some people are more equal than others. I had insights into the often subtle differences between what is legal and what is acceptable or common. I re-learned that patience is crucial in this work, because social equity is a nuanced continuum that evolves over time.”

What did you learn about KSU? About diversity, equity, and inclusion at KSU? About yourself? How might you use that knowledge in the future?

“I learned that there are many open-minded people at KSU who define diversity in its broadest sense – as humanity – and view KSU’s diversity as a strength.”

What are your own personal hopes for KSU in regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the future?

“I look forward to a day when we will hire a Chief Humanity Officer, as I feel that what we have in common – our humanity – is far more compelling as a unifying force than the differences among us.”

EDUCATION AND SCHOLARSHIP

Reflections from Dr. Ed Chan, Phase One Team Leader

“I was honored to participate in KSU’s efforts to assess itself in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion across the campus. The institution should be commended for these efforts, which were broad-based and were pursued openly. I was particularly impressed that our work covered the curriculum, campus environment, administrative infrastructure, and all constituents (students, staff, and faculty). My hopes for the initiative are that it will continue with the same level of support (or greater) from both the university administration and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. As someone who researches and teaches about issues of racial and cultural diversity in U.S. American culture, I am convinced that these issues require not only deep and ongoing reflection, but also concrete action. This latter is what often gets lost in efforts to address diversity, equity, and inclusion—especially in constrained financial and budgetary environments.

A large part of my own academic scholarship concerns how we imagine what a racial utopia might look like. In many ways, the particular characteristics of a given utopia are less important than the need and desire to actively engage in this process of imagining the ideal. This seems to me to be precisely the role of an institution: to encourage this ‘dreaming’ and enable our striving toward it.”

DEAI PROJECT COORDINATORS

Reflections from Dr. Sarah Robbins, DEAI Project Co-Coordinator with Flora Devine

“There is no more important dimension in the complex and valuable work of a university than its efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. For me as an individual, this project affirmed the centrality of these values in university life and provided multiple, sustained opportunities to grow professionally from studying our own campus culture with a team of dedicated colleagues.
Involving many faculty members, staff and students at various stages was particularly beneficial. Every time the team leaders shared our still-developing findings with a different audience—whether from student government or from the chairs’ council; whether with the deans’ council or the staff senate—we heard important suggestions and questions that pushed our project to a higher level. Seeing the campus energy for this important initiative build over time, through such broad participation, bodes well for our future as an institution. Drawing strength from the accumulating energy and understanding, Kennesaw State has already been able to implement a number of recommendations that emerged from the DEAI project.

These days, although our task force has completed its formal assignment, I am excited to hear frequently from staff members, administrators, students and faculty members who contributed in so many ways to the research. At KSU, we now have a strengthened commitment to the role that diversity plays on our campus and in our larger community. In that regard, I think we will continue to benefit from having broad representation on the entire assessment team, but with all participants being charged to think of themselves as serving the whole university and its future needs rather than only representing their home unit. Another strength associated with the breadth of our participation was being able to draw on, and to integrate, multiple research traditions.
Looking ahead, with a Chief Diversity Officer in place, KSU is poised to make even greater progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion. For many of us involved in leadership of this particular project, myself included, our own scholarship and teaching will help keep us highly involved. For everyone at our university, this work set some important benchmarks by building on past accomplishments in the area of diversity, identifying crucial needs, and envisioning new possibilities.”