Dear Wolfpack Community,
It’s my pleasure to make my first statement to you as your interim vice provost for institutional equity and diversity. Since starting this role in March 2018, I have been fully engaged in getting up to speed and working with campus leadership, partners and the amazing team in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity to grasp the state of affairs and, with input, start charting a course.
I welcome all feedback and insights on the important matters we have at hand. Please feel comfortable to reach out to me at any time, and sign up to be selected to have lunch with me and others across campus so that we can have opportunities to dialogue.
We hope you enjoyed this fall’s Diversity Education Week, our annual week of programs focused on NC State’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive community. “Defining the Wolfpack” was this year’s theme, focusing on the critical aspects of social identity, social positionality, policy and practice.
We stated that the definition of “Wolfpack” as a noun is “a shared sense of responsibility to know oneself, affirm others and build coalitions across communities.” Diversity Education Week offered over forty programs around this theme. Community members engaged in broadening our horizons and exploring the multiple ways that individuals see, experience and honor themselves and others. The event is intended to create space for an exploration of humankind and to challenge ourselves to broaden our perspectives.
Fully exploring concepts of identity, belonging and an open mind and heart are key elements of the college experience. We continuously invite students to actively engage in using this time in your life to broaden your exposure to other cultures, ideas, philosophies and worldviews.
And we ask and expect faculty, staff and administrators to also continuously engage in deepening their own cultural competency and to ensure that we provide an experience for our community that allows for thoughtful connection with our fellow Wolfpack members.
On our campus, as in the world, we have experienced both positives and negatives. We had a very positive event recently – the naming of the University College Commons building after Irwin Holmes, Jr., ‘60, the first African American graduate of NC State, during Red and White Week. In this action of recognizing a pioneer who broke barriers and paved the way for others to succeed, we go beyond words.
We have also recently experienced extremely negative events in our nation – bomb threats, violence and the senseless murders of Jewish worshipers practicing their religion in Pittsburgh – following many other racially-motivated incidents in our country.
Together, we must stand against all acts of discrimination and violence, now more than ever. And, we must actively work each day to bolster our empathy, understanding and compassion for one another.
Our work in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity has and will continue to serve this exact purpose. Our organizational goals include:
- cultivating a community in which individuals demonstrate respect toward one another;
- working to ensure that NC State is an equitable and inclusive environment, one that is free from discrimination and harassment; and
- working together to provide a unified, campus-wide approach to ensure that students, faculty and staff learn and work within a campus defined by the best practices in equity, diversity and inclusion.
We cannot do this work alone. It takes all of us to educate ourselves and those around us to help eliminate discrimination and harassment from our society, one person at a time.
As fall semester comes to a close and we prepare for 2019, I ask that we all continue to strive to build a strong sense of community within the Wolfpack, sharing, learning and affirming one another, so that we can take that spirit into the world and make a difference, each in our own way.
Please make use of the following resources, as needed:
- In the coming months, watch for opportunities for dialogue and discussion facilitated by the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity, such as our new Restorative Circles workshop. We need your help to strengthen our communities and create a culture of support and affirmation.
- If you are in need of counseling or mental health support, reach out to someone. Students may contact the Counseling Center and faculty and staff can contact our office, Human Resources, or the employee assistance program (FASAP). All can visit the drop-in counseling hours in each of our four campus community centers. You are not alone.
- If you have witnessed or experienced discrimination, harassment or violence against individuals or groups, we encourage you to file a report with the Office for Equal Opportunity and Equity or the Bias Impact Response Team so that these incidents can be thoroughly investigated and referrals to the appropriate services can be made.
Take care of yourself and each other.
Sheri L. Schwab, J.D., M.Ed.
Interim Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity
Title IX and ADA Coordinator
Proud Alum, Class of 1997
NC State University