DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Those three significant, high profile terms are more than just trendy at Maysville Community and Technical College.
MCTC scored 32 out of a possible 34 on its newly-approved plan to enhance those three elements of fairness was determined by the Council on Postsecondary Education to be one of the two best in KCTCS and on par with the top two institutions, the Univesity of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University, among Kentucky’s eight public universities.
“We were thrilled by our score and most importantly proud of the institutional work that has led to implementing strategies, programs, and services that better address the needs of and support the success of diverse students, said Jessica Kern, MCTC’s chief student affairs officer and primary author of the plan.
The annual report is reviewed by CPE in accordance with the Diversity Plan Report Evaluation, which evaluates: (1) progress toward meeting goals, (2) evidence that identified strategies are implemented with fidelity, (3) analysis of strategy effectiveness, and (4) the lessons learned from that analysis and related next steps.
Kern was especially complimentary of the efforts of Millicent Harding-Thomas, director of cultural diversity, who has day-to-day responsibility for planning activities and programs in support of DEI objectives.
“This institution’s goals in diversity go far beyond what we can do by ourselves,” Harding-Thomas said. “Our ongoing challenge is to constantly educate other members of our community to understand these values and become personally involved through collaboration.”
MCTC Interim President/CEO Russell Ward shares their pride in the statewide recognition of the new DEI plan.
“We are getting more buy-in from faculty, staff and students and are making real progress in this important initiative,” Ward said. “Two years ago, our plan did not pass muster but now we are at the top in terms of potential impact.”
For those unfamiliar with the three components of DEI, a common definition of diversity includes but is not limited to race, color, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, veteran status, education, marital status, language, age, gender, gender expression and/or identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, genetic information, and learning styles.
Equity is the guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically under-served and under-represented populations.
Inclusion means bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power and ensures equal access to opportunities and resources.
Diversity activist Verna Myers coined the phrase: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
As an example of collaboration, Harding-Thomas said a suggestion from Brianna Whitten, associate professor of English, is resulting in the development of a Holocaust Memorial Daffodil Garden on each of the four MCTC campuses. The Maysville garden was dedicated earlier this year.
Carrie Taylor, a faculty horticulture specialist, also collaborated with Harding-Thomas to help bring the project to fruition. Whitten has been a Belfer Fellow at the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“When those beautiful yellow flowers bloom each spring, everyone will be gently reminded of the tragic history of religious persecution and why we must always respect each other’s beliefs,” said Harding-Thomas.
Kern added that collaboration between individuals and groups is essential to the success of any diversity initiative.
“Having a good plan is important but we need everyone’s commitment to bring it to reality,” she said.
For more information about MCTC, go online to maysville.kctcs.edu.