Recent Strides in Inclusive Excellence at Lebanon Valley College

Renata Williams, Director of Intercultural Affairs and Inclusive Programming

Valuing differences among human beings is a key component of LVC’s mission that our students take to heart. From Student Government (SG) launching the #LVC4Change campaign last fall to recent efforts by the Student Programming Board and SG to host a wing night in support of a fellow student who experienced racism firsthand, the College’s students, faculty, board, and staff strive daily to ensure that our campus remains one that is warm and inclusive, where everyone is welcome. 

This leadership spirit of our students is a core principle of LVC, where any student can start a club or organization that has great personal value or interest, whether it be religious, intercultural, or academic. In fact, students have launched and continue to lead the majority of the College’s 90+ co-curricular clubs and organizations. This sense of commitment and involvement extends to the College’s new strategic plan, Envision 2020, particular the third Strategic Focus Area: Developing Inclusive Excellence and High Performance.      

LVC is unique in the depth and breadth of student involvement in overall campus leadership and decision making. Student leaders serve on hiring committees for administrative positions and are voting members of the College’s Board of Trustees. They are active members of the Sustainability Advisory Committee, numerous other campus-wide committees, and the Committee on Inclusion and Intercultural Learning. 

Dr. Lewis E. Thayne, LVC president, reinforced the importance of creating a culture dedicated to Inclusive Excellence and High Performance during the recent fourth annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence. “We are a college because of the social and educational impact we can have on society, especially through our graduates… We are dedicated to learning from one another, to supporting the work and the talent of each other, and to respecting the dignity and the contributions of one another—this is a model our society needs as a foundation for democracy itself.”

Together, this has changed the campus culture in a positive manner in a relatively short period. Recent strides toward Inclusive Excellence include:

 

Recruitment

There has been an increased focus on recruitment of faculty and staff from inclusive and intercultural populations.

*Hired Dr. Cona Marshall, the College’s first assistant professor of Africana studies.

*Hired teaching fellows in criminal justice, English, and Spanish.

*Hired two new ALANA (African/African American, Latina, Asian, and Native American) faculty. 

*Welcomed two Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants for 2016–2017 academic year.

*Established prospective student admission partnerships with national charter school networks that enroll educationally underserved young people in urban communities. 

*Revised the College’s prospective student admission tour to emphasize appropriately LVC’s goal of Inclusive Excellence. 

*Developed a new program for multicultural teaching fellows to bring post-doctoral—and emerging—scholars to campus as visiting faculty. These scholars will be called the Alfred Tennyson Sumner, Class of 1902, Scholars [Sumner Scholars] in honor of our distinguished alumnus. 

*Human resources extended the list of sites where open positions are posted to recruit a more diverse pool of candidates for staff positions. 

 

Reorganization and Retention

Several administrative changes were made and studies conducted to better serve students and enhance graduation success.

*The Office of Multicultural Affairs was reorganized into the Office of Intercultural Affairs & Inclusive Programs, which is led by Renata Williams, the office’s first director of intercultural affairs and inclusive programming. 

*LVC’s Inclusive Excellence Committee was transformed into the Committee on Intercultural Learning to solidify the connection between Inclusive Excellence and globalization, and to encourage co-curricular engagement. 

*Research, leading to the publication of an Inequities Report, was produced outlining the causes of inequity in educational outcomes of our students. The report was used to develop initiatives to address inequities early during the fall semester. 

*LVC’s pre-orientation Summer Enrichment Program, formerly the Bridge Program, was expanded to a week-long program, including an online course, to provide all incoming (new and transfer) ALANA and multiracial students with a jump start on college life at LVC. 

*Dr. Lewis E. Thayne, LVC president, established the President’s Fund for Inclusive Excellence, which will provide up to $25,000 each year for programming and educational opportunities that support institutional priorities highlighted in LVC’s Envision 2020 strategic plan.

 

Education

There have been increased efforts to institute intercultural and cross-cultural training for faculty and staff. 

*Revised job descriptions for all employees.

*Instituted intercultural and cross-cultural training for faculty and staff, including training workshops hosted by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

*Hosted the fourth annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Charles H.F. Davis, director of higher education research and initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education. 

*Faculty have begun work toward increasing the prevalence and visibility of intercultural competence and course content to reflect our commitment to equity, globalization, and Inclusive Excellence. 

*Established a special task force to conduct site visits and submit a final proposal for a Center of Inclusive and Intercultural Learning to the Board of Trustees at their May meeting.

 

Facilities

Increased attention was focused on enhancing facilities to address accessibility to campus buildings and other needs.

*Addition of automatic openers for restrooms and some building entrances.

*Installation of a lift/elevator in the Mary Capp Green Residence Hall.

*Conversion of single-use restrooms and bathrooms to ALL-Gender spaces.

*Increased accessibility between North and South campus and athletic facilities. 

 

Though much has been accomplished in the past year, much remains to be done. Upcoming priorities include revising the College’s complaints and grievances policies to assist students, faculty, and staff in reporting incidents, understanding process, and achieving accountability, among other goals.  

This continued commitment to Inclusive Excellence will support the College’s mission to develop students who think critically and creatively across boundaries; who solve complex problems; who communicate effectively; and who value differences among human beings. It will help prepared our students to become graduates who are empowered to pursue a life of learning, citizenship, and success.