New Efforts, New Hopes After a Challenging Year

NC State Belltower with orange sky

Dear Wolfpack Community,

After a longer than usual semester break that gave us time to reflect on the very challenging events of 2020, we return with hopes for a new year in which our constant goal of providing a welcoming campus community for all takes on an even greater significance in our current national climate of uncertainty.

I know you are joining us in Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration week. One of my personal heroes and also that of many others around the world, MLK’s words have continued to resonate with millions, causing us to pause for reflection as well as motivating us to action as we continuously work towards our collective equality. And this week, we will witness the inauguration of a new president, and celebrate the first woman of color — but certainly not the last — being installed into the office of the Vice President. I can’t wait to watch this historic event and look forward to the day it will no longer be a first but will be a regular part of our American story. 

This is a time of deep reflection for all of us. In our NC State motto, “Think and Do,” the ‘thinking’ notably comes before the ‘doing.’ For our university community, thinking enables us to better understand and therefore work to find solutions to the major problems of our world. Let us always be thoughtful in our actions and mindful of not causing harm to others as we work to advance our chosen causes.

This year, our African American Cultural Center will offer a monthly virtual workshop series in place of a guest speaker for our MLK Campus Commemoration. This series will cultivate the spirit of Dr. King in participants and is a great way of putting one’s values into action. And, please watch for our Spring 2021 events, such as the Sisterhood Celebration, Black History Month and the Gender and Equity Research Symposium.  

The past year was challenging for all of us; we continue to persevere. I am proud of the work that we have accomplished in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity and, alongside you and many others across our community, we are continuing to work hard on many equity and inclusion efforts. Here are a few of the many we are working on.

We successfully hosted the first university-wide Racial Equity Summit at NC State in October, concurrent with focused racial equity activities at the UNC System level. Findings and next steps will be published in the coming weeks. Look for new developments in this effort by visiting the Racial Equity Summit website.

Together with University Communications, we expanded NC State’s diversity portal to better communicate all of NC State’s current activities relating to diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. We are using this page more and more to keep our work and progress front and center.

We have launched our SEA Change efforts and look forward to working alongside two other national universities in the inaugural cohort as we focus on institutional transformation in support of diversity, equity and inclusion in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine). This internal project for NC State will help us dial in on specific structural and organizational areas we can work on and will be benchmarked against known best practices and evaluated over time.

We launched online DEI training for faculty, staff and students (though we had a few road bumps along the way) and revamped many of our programs, adapting our resources and content to align the great shifts the world was experiencing in response to the Black Lives Matter and other movements. While it was challenging, we also successfully shifted to virtual programming, sustaining our critical operations during the pandemic and seeing even more engagement and participation from our audiences. 

We will continue bringing forth resources and opportunities for our Wolfpack community to be involved with NC State’s equity and inclusion efforts. This takes all of us, working together and keeping our focus on achieving equity and inclusion for all despite any setbacks or challenges. The words and actions of Dr. King and all of our civil rights leaders compel us to keep working, keep striving and keep moving forward. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Change takes a long time, but it does happen, and we are called to do our part to bringing forth this change. It’s what motivates me, every single day.  

Please keep up with our news by subscribing to our Diversity Digest newsletter, following us on social media @NCStateOIED, and following our campus community centers: the African American Cultural Center, GLBT Center, Multicultural Student Affairs and the Women’s Center.  And, share our news with others, too.  

Sheri L. Schwab, J.D., M.Ed., ‘97
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity
Title IX and ADA Coordinator
NC State University