Sylvia Spears, vice president for diversity and inclusion, held a forum for faculty and staff December 12 to share Emerson’s forward-thinking strategy and goals for diversity and community engagement.
Many good things are already in place and “we have lots of places where we can grow,” Spears told the audience.
Spears, who has more than 20 years of experience in higher education and a substantial background in providing leadership for programs related to diversity, said Emerson is in the process of setting goals, performance indicators, and more thoughtful planning to increase diversity and inclusion.
“You cannot stand on the corner of Tremont and Boylston and not know we are in a culturally diverse community,” she said.
One of several suggestions made by Spears was the reconfiguring of the Diversity Council, to be renamed the Council for Inclusive Excellence, in order to provide strategic leadership and measures of accountability throughout the institution.
“Institutional excellence is not possible without full engagement of diversity,” Spears said.
Globalization and a nationally growing non-white population add urgency to the issue, Spears said.
“Students need to…truly be prepared to be global leaders,” she said. “They need to be good global citizens, and we need to be doing things intentionally to create that. The good news is that some of that is already happening.”
Spears emphasized that becoming better neighbors is a significant part of the overall goal.
“Civic and global engagement are two giant initiatives that are part of President [Lee] Pelton’s commitment,” she said. “We sit in a very privileged position as a college. We look to the south, just a block and a half away, and we’re in Chinatown. What does that mean for us to sit here with what we think are not many resources, but what I would guess most people a block and a half away would say is great wealth.”