Diversity Trailblazers Honored at Chancellor’s Creating Community Awards 2018

Belltower

The Chancellor’s Creating Community Awards affirm NC State’s strong commitment to the principles and work of diversity, equity and inclusion across the university. This year, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences was awarded three of the top awards: for outstanding college, outstanding faculty member and outstanding student. Recipients received cash awards and/or discretionary funds for their departments.

Here are excerpts from the winners’ nominations. Some comments have been edited for context:

Outstanding College or Division Award: The College of Humanities and Social Sciences 

Some pivotal events occurred at NC State in the early Fall of 2016: a peaceful students’ protest and die-in; racist and offensive comments from students displayed on social media; a town hall on racial climate sponsored by student government. Chancellor Randy Woodson issued a campus message and asked for suggestions about how the university can improve our response to such situations. He noted that solutions should not  fall solely to students.

CHASS receives Creating Community award.
Humanities and Social Sciences was named NC State’s outstanding college during the Chancellor’s Creating Community awards.

In response, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences took proactive steps to address these issues as they pattern to the well-being of students, faculty and staff.

On November 15, the college held a conversation about the college’s racial climate, during which many students expressed their frustration at not being able to discuss recent events in the classroom either out of fear or because faculty couldn’t or avoided engaging the matter. As a result, Dean Jeff Braden tasked the college’s Diversity Advisory Committee to devise recommendations for Diversity and Inclusive Classroom Strategies.

Next, in the context of Diversity Education Week, Dr. Karen Bullock, head of the Department of Social Work, gave a college-wide lecture titled, ‘Teaching about Diversity: Fostering Inclusive Classrooms and Campus Climate’ that was heavily attended by faculty, staff and students.

A Professional Development and Advancement Workshop followed for the college’s non-faculty employees with presentations from university and college human resources and OIED staff.

The college held a second diversity town hall with a staff workshop, “Promoting a Positive Work Environment.”

The college’s Diversity Advisory Council submitted a list of recommendations in January 2017. The dean shared them with his leadership team, asking each department to discuss the recommendations and select three of which the department would be held accountable and would report on in its annual evaluation.

Two examples adopted by departments:

  • History faculty agreed that all tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty would attend two workshops, ‘Fostering Inclusivity in the Classroom’ and ‘Recognizing and Responding to Microaggressions;’ that all faculty would take the Implicit Bias Test; and that they would revise their exit interview questions for graduating history majors to include queries about diversity and inclusive classrooms.
  • English faculty agreed to individually take the Implicit Bias test; collectively conduct a ‘syllabus challenge’ workshop; and to programmatically adopt the following question on course evaluations: ‘Issues related to diversity and equity (e.g., race/ethnicity, SES, disability status, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, etc.) were integrated into course content.’

The college extended its efforts at addressing and transforming the campus climate by continuing to bring renowned scholars and leaders to give our university-wide diversity lectures: Dr. Sylvester Jim Gates, Jr. on ‘Equity vs. Excellence: A False Dichotomy in Science and Society’ (2017) and Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy on ‘There’s is a Xenophobe Among Us: Diversity and Inclusivity on College Campuses” (2018).”

Outstanding Faculty Award: Dr. Mary Haskett, Psychology 

Mary Haskett
Prof. Mary Haskett is pictured between Chancellor Randy Woodson and Interim Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Sheri Schwab. Haskett received the NC State faculty award from the Chancellor’s Creating Community program.

In less than a year, Professor of Psychology Mary Haskett has mobilized the university and larger community to address food and housing insecurity experienced by NC State students. Under-resourced students are invisible. With the pervasive discrimination on campus and in the community, these students do not feel safe bringing attention to the fact they do not have enough to be successful at NC State. But  Haskett is acknowledging them and honoring their experiences.

Dr. Haskett created and implemented a campus-wide food and housing security survey sent to 7,000 NC State students. This kind of survey is the first of its kind at NC State. Twenty-five percent of these students completed the survey, which is a good response rate. As an active mentor to undergraduate students, Haskett hired two under-resourced students via the Provost’s Professional Experience Program funds. She has worked to engage national, state, local and campus agencies to get more food and acceptable housing for students. For example, the National Center for Homeless Education is working to ensure NC State students access their services, scholarships and other resources. A local transitional housing organization is working to offer low-cost housing to housing insecure NC State students.

She mobilized campus departments, administration and stakeholders to engage in the complexity of hunger and homelessness at ‘Community Conversation: Student Food and Housing Security event for Diversity Education Week.’ Haskett is fully dedicated to ensuring no student at NC experiences food and housing insecurity as no other faculty has previously. With the trifecta of research, engaging constituents and service, Haskett is leading NC State to be a national example of how a campus not only ensures every student has access to human basic needs, but has access to all of the resources to Think and Do.

Outstanding Student Award: Miriam Roochvarg (Communication)

Miriam Roochvarg
Communication major Miriam Roochvarg won the student award during the Chancellor’s Creating Community event.

Miriam Roochvarg has made a significant contribution to interfaith efforts at NC State during her tenure as an undergraduate. While we use a few terms to describe this work (interfaith, worldview diversity, interbelief, etc.), it’s often very unclear to people the importance of creating a cooperative and supportive environment for students of diverse faith traditions or non-faith beliefs on this campus.

During her time as an undergraduate, Roochvarg has applied her communications degree to this mission on campus. She worked closely with Dr. Janice Odom, director of the Caldwell Fellows program, to coordinate bringing Rebecca Russo, a leader at the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, to campus, and that event generated considerable attention to the interfaith climate on our campus. In addition, she was instrumental in establishing interfaith prayer/meditation spaces across campus. She has engaged in meaningful conversations with the chancellor, provost and others about the importance of addressing religious diversity on campus.

She started the student organization “Better Together,” which has made positive strides toward uniting faith groups on campus for the common good. Recently, Roochvarg and two other undergraduates received a grant to study the current state of interfaith relations on campus at NC State, and how interfaith efforts might be enhanced in the future. Roochvarg recruited members of Hillel, the Buddhist Meditation Society, the Muslim Student Association and the Freethinkers group to serve together at Shack-a-thon. It was a beneficial experience for all. In addition, Roochvarg’s participation and leadership was critical toward the success of an interfaith leadership retreat that was attended by NC State students representing different faith and non-faith backgrounds in Spring 2018. Miriam Roochvarg is seen  aross campus as a leader in interfaith initiatives on campus.

This article is adapted from an article created by Elizabeth Snively for NC State’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.