Lebanon Valley College Hosts Third Annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence

A keynote speaker addresses the crowd at the Symposium on Inclusive Excellence

Lebanon Valley College hosted its third annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence Thursday, Jan. 21. A keynote speaker, a service award, educational sessions, service opportunities, and remarks from LVC President Dr. Lewis E. Thayne highlighted the daylong event that focused on issues of community building, understanding, and celebration of differences.

During his remarks, President Thayne stressed the value that a culture of inclusive excellence means to our students as they enter a global workplace.

“The skills of cultural competency, managing diversity, handling (and voicing) conflict skillfully, and lifelong learning will be central to your success as a productive member of the global economy, American society, and your local community,” said Thayne. “Nothing could be more practical or more to your advantage to learn.”

President Thayne listed more than a dozen actions of a comprehensive program to strengthen the inclusive excellence mission of the College, including:

  • Expand student recruitment initiatives to include partnerships with national charter school networks that enroll educationally underserved young people.
  • Focus faculty recruitment efforts on a newly-approved interdisciplinary position in Africana Studies as part of our new First Year Experience.
  • Review the curriculum and co-curriculum to identify and make more visible the skills development for intercultural competence and course/program content involving diversity.
  • Create a President’s Fund for Inclusive Excellence to provide financial resources to projects and proposals that accelerate our progress in reaching goals for curricular and co-curricular revision.

“Being inclusive, embracing diversity, caring for others, respecting the dignity of others — these are not just the smart things to do; they are also, and most importantly, the right things to do,” said Thayne.

A group of concerned students held a brief respectful demonstration after President Thayne’s remarks, holding signs and passing out materials to express their concerns.

Prior to President Thayne’s remarks, Dr. Rachel Levine, physician general for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine, shared her personal and career story relating to inclusion and diversity.

The morning also included the presentation of the 2016 President’s Award for Community Service to the Nu Delta chapter of Alpha Phi Omega (APO). Headed by President Gerald Miller ’17 as well as Darryl McClish Jr. ’17, Hayley Holloway ’16, and Nicholas Irick ’16, APO is currently 18 members strong. The organization regularly hosts blood drives and charity casino nights, but went above and beyond in the past year, working more than 350 cumulative hours on the drive alone. Other notable service projects include assisting Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association with providing horseback riding lessons and cleaning horse enclosures, as well as helping with local cub scout meetings.

The theme of service continued into the afternoon, with approximately 200 students volunteering for community outreach projects at local places like the Annville Free Library, Lebanon Brethren Home, and the Caring Cupboard.

Back on campus, the afternoon featured more than 20 educational sessions in a variety of disciplines, sparking conversation on topics including religious freedom, privilege, identity, cultural diversity in the dining hall, and disabilities and accessibility. Continuing dialogues followed those sessions, including a panel of LVC alumni who shared their stories of activism. The day concluded with evening discussions in the residence halls.