Duane Bonifer  |   Published October 08, 2020

Focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Campus group aims to ‘move the needle forward’ through several initiatives and programs designed to promote diversity.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A new Monmouth College group aims to help make the campus an even more welcoming, inclusive and equitable place for all members of the community.

REGINA JOHNSON: ?We are asking questions such as: What are we providing for our students from div... REGINA JOHNSON: “We are asking questions such as: What are we providing for our students from diverse backgrounds? Are we meeting their expectations as far as their physical and psychological safety?”​The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group Working Group – known as DEI – was formed earlier this year with the purpose of “moving the needle forward a little bit more aggressively in the ways of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on campus,” according to Regina Johnson, the College’s director of multicultural student services and co-chair of the advisory group.

“I am super excited about DEI because of the promise it holds to help Monmouth continue to develop and broaden its efforts to be a place where all students, faculty and staff feel welcomed,” said Johnson. “The working group’s members come from diverse backgrounds and areas on campus, and all of them are willing to do the work to help make the College a better and more inclusive place.”

DEI builds on the efforts of All of Us Better Together, a group formed about five years ago to promote campus diversity efforts. DEI is made up of 11 individuals from all areas of the College.

“Success can be hard to measure because this is not always easy work, but there are ways that we can gain some metrics and know that we’re doing things that are taking the campus community in the right direction.”
– Regina Johnson, DEI co-chair

DEI co-chair Jake McLean said that the members’ diverse backgrounds is one of its strengths.​

“DEI is special because it acknowledges the good work we’ve done on our campus, but it also addresses the shortcomings of previous iterations of this kind of group,” said McLean, a Monmouth alumnus who is also the College’s assistant director of leadership development. “Working together with alumni, students, faculty and staff, we’ve created action steps so that we can continue the work of centering issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion in our campus culture. As we move forward in executing things on this plan, it’s my hope that future generations of students find the same kind of experience I did when I was a student.”

Johnson, who is also a Monmouth graduate, said that DEI developed an action-oriented strategic plan to help guide it from the charge it was given by College President Clarence R. Wyatt and Dean of the Faculty Mark Willhardt.

“The strategic plan is key because it helps the group examine our physical and psychological spaces for our students,” she said. “We are asking questions such as: What are we providing for our students from diverse backgrounds? Are we meeting their expectations as far as their physical and psychological safety? That means a lot to our underrepresented populations as well as our majority students.”

JAKE McLEAN: ?Working together with alumni, students, faculty and staff, we've created action... JAKE McLEAN: “Working together with alumni, students, faculty and staff, we've created action steps so that we can continue the work of centering issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion in our campus culture.”​​DEI’s members also hope to improve diversity training on campus among faculty and staff “by building a specific set of cultural competencies that we hope that we can achieve on campus among our students, staff and faculty,” Johnson said. One of the ways the working group hopes to achieve those goals is through vibrant mentoring and counseling programs offered to students.

Assessment will also be an important tool that the DEI working group uses to evaluate its work over the next three to five years.

“Success can be hard to measure because this is not always easy work, but there are ways that we can gain some metrics and know that we’re doing things that are taking the campus community in the right direction,” Johnson said. “We can look to such things as holding training sessions and workshops on campus and then measuring their success through evaluations.

“Some of our work we will be able to measure immediately, whereas other work will evolve more slowly over time. But what’s important is that all of our work, taken together, will move the needle in the right direction so that Monmouth continues to be a place that welcomes and embraces individuals from all backgrounds and provides equitable and inclusive spaces for everyone.”

Listen Up …

Regina Johnson discusses the goals and plans of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group Working Group. (Interview begins at 12:56 mark.)

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