Since its founding, Cal State Monterey Bay has been focused on educating a diverse student body.
Given the diversity of the state we serve, that focus is both logical and right. If you look at our enrollment statistics or, better yet, walk around our campus once classes begin in the fall, you will see an educational community that is truly a microcosm of the greater society.
As we all know, however, recruiting a diverse student body is only part of our job. In California, it is not even the harder part. Our larger responsibility is to leverage our campus diversity as a strategic asset in preparing our students for a global, multicultural society.
Bringing a diverse group of students to our campus is an empty promise if we do not promote a campus culture that improves their chances to succeed and to graduate.
Our campus has made great strides in this regard in recent years, and I applaud the efforts and commitment of those who have worked and continue to work on issues surrounding diversity and equity. However, after a year on campus, I have concluded that we need a sharper focus on issues of inclusive excellence, a term that is being used nationally to signify the new understanding of diversity as a strategic asset in support of the institutional mission.
To that end, earlier this summer I appointed Dr. Patti Hiramoto as associate vice president for inclusive excellence and chief diversity officer. Dr. Hiramoto, who most recently served as vice president of University Advancement, brings great knowledge of our university to her new position, having previously served chief of staff for President Harrison, as director of equal employment opportunity, and as associate director of academic personnel.
In making this appointment, I do not want to create the impression that these issues now are simply Dr. Hiramoto’s to resolve. Her task is to act not as a “diversity czar”, but as a catalyst and a coordinator working with faculty, staff and students university-wide. We will need an integrated and strategic effort to make further progress, and benchmarks to measure where we are and where we can go. I am confident that Dr. Hiramoto is the right choice to help lead that effort.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities has formulated a useful definition of inclusive excellence that can act as a useful roadmap for our efforts. The AACU definition includes four elements:
- A focus on student intellectual and social development. Academically, it means offering the best possible course of study for the context in which the education is offered.
- A purposeful development and utilization of organizational resources to enhance student learning. Organizationally, it means establishing an environment that challenges each student to achieve academically at high levels and each member of the campus to contribute to learning and knowledge development.
- Attention to cultural differences that learners bring to the educational experience and that enhance the enterprise.
- A welcoming community that engages all of its diversity in the service of student and organizational learning.
I believe this is an exciting and necessary initiative for our university to undertake at this time and I look forward to our continued progress in this area.
Junior Otter program: In talking about inclusive excellence, it is worth noting that the award-winning Junior Otter program finished another outstanding year with its graduation program earlier this month. The program, which welcomes migrant students from around the county, is an outstanding way to give them a look at our campus and a taste of college life. Luis Valdez, founder of El Teatro Campesino and an original faculty member at CSUMB, was again on hand to provide an uplifting message to the graduates, their parents and area educators.
Service learning award: CSUMB recently earned the Higher Education Civic Engagement Award presented by The Washington Center and the New York Life Foundation. More than 100 colleges and universities were nominated for the award, which recognizes leadership and innovation in civic engagement. Our university was one of only five selected. As part of the award, our university receives $20,000 in funding to help students participate in The Washington Center's Academic Internship Program in Washington, D.C., in 2014.
As always, I welcome your comments on this newsletter or on any issues facing the university. You may direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
President, Cal State Monterey Bay