Oglethorpe University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force plays a crucial role in creating and sustaining an inclusive campus community. Members work to identify, develop, and implement strategies that move the university forward. This year, the task force is focused on following Interim President Kathryn McClymond’s mantra for the year: “steady, focused, forward”.
“The DEI Task Force is dedicated to continuing the progress of building a campus culture where all Petrels are welcomed and experience belonging,” said Dr. Rhana Gittens Wheeler, who is serving as DEI Special Advisor to the President.
“Though we recognize this is not an overnight mission or a one-and-done task, the task force’s vision remains the same. This year, we will particularly focus on integrating members of the DEI Task Force with other communities, departments, and committees on campus to support collaboration and DEI initiatives.”
This fall, new members of the DEI Task Force were selected to serve a two-year term. Interested candidates were asked to complete an application, which included a letter explaining their role on campus, commitment to DEI, and interest in serving on the task force.
The following members were selected from the applicants:
- Helen Bond, Academic Advisor, Student Success
- Druonna Collier, Assistant Collections Manager, OU Museum of Art
- Valeri Cruz ’23, Communications Coordinator, Marketing and Communications
- Dr. Gregory Gabriel, Lecturer, Chemistry
- Laronda Hollis, Assistant Director, Counseling Center
- Matt Kessinger, Student
- Naima McHardy, Student
- Dr. Vivian Medrano, Senior Director, Student Success
- Jason Njagi, Student
- Dr. Susan Noh, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
- Christina Price Washington, Assistant Professor of Art and Art Program Coordinator
- Jonathan “Wood” Severe, Student
- Kinsley Williams, Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator
- Marisol Zacarias, Director, Intercultural Center
The new members join previous continuing members:
- Dr. Magdalena Carrasco, Part-Time Lecturer, Biology
- Dr. Maura Dudley, Part-Time Lecturer, Biology
- Peter Dye, Assistant Director, Community and Global Engagement; Writing Tutor Coordinator
- Lacey Frye, Student
- Ethan Hawkland, Assistant Director, Admission
- Dr. James Iredell, Lecturer of Core Studies
- Autumn Johnson ’20, Assistant Director of Events and Communications, Admission
- Dr. Christine McCulloch, Lecturer of Core Studies
- Dr. Megan Murphy, Visiting Assistant Professor, Biology
- Derek Otis, Instructional Technology Librarian
- Elizabeth Peterson Jennings, Director, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art
- Dr. Timothy Piper, Assistant Professor, Communications Studies
- Morgan Quach, Student
- Miriam Smith, Senior Director of Title IX and Equity; Title IX Coordinator
- Grant Utter, Assistant Director, Marketing and Communications
- Dr. Anna Ziering, Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
“We had a strong group of applicants including faculty, staff, and students, revealing the continued relevance of these initiatives to the campus,” said Gittens Wheeler. “Last year, the DEI Task Force was awarded OU’s Community Builder Award and with a growing committee of 30 passionate members representing various areas on campus, we believe we can have a lasting impact.”
The three DEI Task Force subcommittees — Campus Climate and Sense of Belonging, Diversity Strategic Planning, and Community Partnerships — are currently developing and finalizing priorities.
Already this year, the task force is leading the charge on planning the inaugural Supporting First Generation Students in Higher Education Conference on November 10, and the Diversity Strategic Planning subcommittee is working to bring training for Universal Design for Learning to campus. Both efforts are supported by Strategic Initiatives Grants awarded in May.
This weekend, the task force is partnering with student organization OUtlet and Oglethorpe’s Intercultural Center to sponsor a float and walk in the Atlanta Pride Parade. For more information about participating, email Marisol Zacarias, director of the Intercultural Center.
Learn more at the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion website.