DEI committee announced, members from various backgrounds


G-Jun Yam

Onye Ozuzu, Interim Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, is starting a new committee called Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, that focus on enhancing the values of diversity, equity and inclusion across the campus.

By Campus Reporter

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee—one of the newest Strategic Plan implementation committees—has been formed by President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim, according to a Jan. 28 email from Kim to faculty and staff.

The committee includes 11 members and will be headed by Onye Ozuzu, interim dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts.  It needs to look at the college on a systemic level of addressing discrimination, Kim said, as was stipulated in the Strategic Plan. He also mentioned that he has worked with a few of the members, but looks forward to meeting the group as a whole to further examine what the committee needs to achieve.

“I am excited about the committee getting started and hearing where the conversation goes,” Kim said. 

Kim said he hopes the committee will pull together a statement of commitment and value by the end of the semester.

“It is a really wonderfully experienced and diverse group, so I think a lot of important things will come out of their discussions,” Kim said.

Kim said there is a lot of pushback from the college to the idea of a vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He also noted that the college agreed it would form the committee to examine the best structure to advance the work of diversity on campus.

In an additional statement provided, Kim said the committee will aim to find the best infrastructure the college needs in order to support the core work, including a conversation around key staffing. He did not elaborate on why the search for a vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is delayed. 

The committee, which has yet to meet due to varying schedules, will focus on three goals: to participate in all Strategic Plan implementation committees, create a diversity statement for the college and develop a diversity strategy for training and education collegewide, as reported Dec. 7, 2015, by The Chronicle.

“I was looking for different perspectives on what is important in this conversation [and] for a majority of members whose statements indicated that they had experience in dealing with these issues at the systems level,” Kim said.

Ozuzu, who has a diverse background in performing arts, said the committee members have studied concept, theory and ideology of diversity from various perspectives.

“People can look at the history of organizations attempting to find ways to look at the fact that the community may not serve everyone equitably,” Ozuzu said.

Brooke Thomas, a senior business & entrepreneurship major and president of the Black Student Union, said Kim asked her to join the committee because of her leadership on campus.

“I wanted to join because of the title,” Thomas said.  “Diversity; we are a diverse school; equity: everyone is equal in my eyes; and inclusion: everyone needs to be included.”

Ramona Gupta, coordinator of Asian-American Cultural Affairs, said she hopes to align the goals with those of Multicultural Affairs. 

“It is a student-serving office,” she said. “That is part of the reason student experience is  important.”