Vol. 20, No. 11, Dec. 7, 2000
Committee charged with developing
plans to improve campus diversity
Becky Mabry , Assistant
(217) 244-1072; firstname.lastname@example.org
Aiken and Provost Richard Herman have charged a new campuswide committee
with developing plans for improving diversity on campus.
The committee comprises 27 members, including students, professors,
deans, assistant deans and campus administrators.
"Any successful plan will require multiple actions on multiple
fronts across the campus," Herman said. "It is important that
we move forward to create a truly diverse community that enhances the
campus educational environment. We want our graduates to be citizens
of the world. As the demography of our state and nation changes, as
the professions our students enter demand a greater understanding of
world cultures, we must provide more diverse experiences for our students."
One purpose of the committee is to develop proposals that will increase
the gender and ethnic diversity of faculty and staff members. Other
proposals will offer students an educational and living experience that
encourages them to understand their own limitations and what they and
those of other backgrounds can bring to bear on societal issues.
The Diversity Initiatives Committee will start its work in the spring
semester. Herman said he anticipates it being a standing committee,
although membership may change through the years.
In a recent interview, Herman talked about some of the reasons why the
committee is necessary and what he and the chancellor hope it can accomplish.
is this Diversity Initiative necessary?
Id like to see this committee create an atmosphere in which diversity
is something that is part of our everyday conversation and experience.
This means incorporation into issues of student life and education.
It means that everyone is dedicated toward making the campus a more
diverse place more racially diverse, with more gender diversity
and with a greater international focus.
And while Im pleased with the progress weve made in terms
of hiring minority faculty not just African-Americans but Latino/Latina
and Asian faculty members there is much more work to be done.
charge to the committee mentions an action plan. Are you
asking the committee to come up with specific suggestions to act upon?
Yes, the fact that both the chancellor and I endorse this concept is
testament to the fact that were asking some very wise people on
this campus to develop a plan of action, which in turn we are promising
you mean youre willing to put money into these efforts and make
their recommendations happen?
Exactly. To be fair, I think an enormous amount of progress has taken
place in a very, very constrained financial environment. I think that
speaks well of the attention given to this issue on this campus.
What were saying in the formation of this committee is that were
raising the priority of investment in diversity.
The focus is also on increasing diversity among the student population,
Its on students and faculty. One does not go without the other.
Youll find that the presence of a significant number of minority
students will bring more minority scholars or scholars who are interested
in minority issues to our door. Likewise the presence of distinguished
minority scholars will bring minority students here to study, both at
the undergraduate and graduate level.
Do you think this committee can come up with anything that hasnt
been done before?
I think by virtue of our geography, we have to try a little harder.
What were asking these individuals on the committee to do is point
us in the right direction by coming up with specific plans of action.
The fine words that appear in the Framework for the Future
form an important umbrella for us, but underneath the umbrella we need
to have some very specific plans of action in the area of diversity.
such a large committee?
In a very real sense, it does represent the diverse nature of the campus.
There are many viewpoints to be taken into account as we weave this
may wonder how you can have a committee looking at diversity issues
with such a controversial issue as Chief Illiniwek on campus. They may
wonder if this is a sincere effort.
I suspect there will be a certain amount of cynicism associated with
this. The alternative to me would be that because the issue of Chief
Illiniwek is such a burning issue that we cannot have a committee of
this nature. To me, that alternative is just flat-out unacceptable.
We cannot let one issue stand in the way of us dealing with the broader
concerns surrounding diversity. So we just need to go forward.
they being directed to put the Chief Illiniwek issue aside, out of their
areas of concern?
In essence we expect this committee to develop its own charge and set
of activities. Fundamentally, what the chancellor and I are saying is
that were faced with a set of issues of how to make the campus
more diverse and we are turning to the committee as a group of wise
individuals to help us solve this problem.
Our promise to them in turn is that if they give us some things to act
on, we guarantee we will act.
We dont want a report thats going to sit on the shelf.
Why was Professor James Anderson chosen to chair the committee?
Jim has played a key role in efforts at Illinois to create a diverse
campus, through his actions both within his own department [educational
policy studies] and through his enormous contributions to the Summer
Research Opportunity program. He is a well respected scholar nationally
and were very pleased to have him here just on that basis, but
he also contributes greatly to the life of the campus in general. He
has great values, and when he puts his mind to doing something, it always
turns out well . Both the chancellor and I are grateful for his leadership.
is it important to a students education to have a university with
a diverse population?
Its important for an individual to have this broader experience
with people because in all likelihood theyre going to be working
with a broader set of individuals. Many of them will go out of state
to work. And it is important to understand that there are other views
on issues often a function of individual backgrounds. Whether
or not they are the same as their own views, its important for
one to understand a variety of perspectives before formulating ones
did you want to include students in the committee?
We dont want to do something for the students; we want to do something
with the students. And we need to understand what the student point
of view is.
is this issue an important one for the campus now?
The long-term demographics of the state are changing. For example, we
know that the Latino/Latina population is on the rise. But that is just
one point. The other is that we need to prepare students to work in
a different environment than we did 10 or 15 years ago when this whole
international-global movement started. Those are two particular reasons
for moving forward.
We recognize these efforts have been made before, but we need to be
more vigorous in seeking solutions. We see the formation of this committee
and our promise to be responsive to suggestions as a reaffirmation of
this universitys commitment to the concept of diversity.
James D. Anderson*, professor, head of educational policy studies,
Andrew G. Alleyne, professor, mechanical and industrial engineering
Patricia E. Askew, vice chancellor for student affairs
Cecilio R. Barrera, associate dean graduate college administration
William E. Berry, associate chancellor, ex officio
Karen M. Carney, assistant provost, ex officio
Leon M. Dash, professor, Swanlund endowed chair, journalism
Alice A. Deck, professor, acting head Afro-American studies, English,
Louis DeSipio, acting director, Latina/Latino studies program, political
David M. Dunson, child care resource specialist
Georgia E. Garcia, associate professor, curriculum and instruction,
educational policy studies.
Frederick E. Hoxie, professor, Swanlund endowed chair, history
Lawrence R. Mann, associate chancellor, ex officio
Curtis B. McKay, assistant dean, library and information science, co-director
gay, lesbian, bisexual task force
Gregory A. Miller, professor, Beckman Institute, psychology
Kathy A. Perkins, professor, theater
Philip W. Phillips, professor, physics, chemistry
Olga Soffer, professor, anthropology. slavic languages
Arlene Torres, assistant professor, anthropology
William T. Trent, professor, educational policy studies, sociology
Emily S. Watts, professor, campus honors program, English
George T. Yu, professor, director East Asian and Pacific Studies Center,
Celina Trujillo and three other students whose names were not available
at press time.
* committee chair