Dear Pacific Community,
We continue moving forward to foster inclusion and support for our diverse community at Pacific University. On the legislative scene, I have joined with more than 500 other college presidents in a Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students. There is a bipartisan effort led by Senators Graham and Durbin to draft legislation that would extend the legal status of DACA students, which Senator Graham thinks “would pass overwhelmingly.” Locally, our county sheriff joined many others in saying that local law enforcement will not use their resources to enforce federal immigration law. I and other university leaders are actively monitoring these developments closely. Students may rest assured we will continue to do all we can to protect the privacy of our students’ records and to support their ability to remain actively enrolled and to succeed in their studies here.
On our own campus, since I called for nominations for an interim leader in equity, diversity and inclusion, a great deal has happened. At the State of the University address on November 17, I announced the appointment of four individuals to a team that will grow the foundation for the permanent position of Chief Diversity Officer we hope will be appointed by summer 2017.
Pete Erschen and Bevin McCarthy will serve as Interim Co-Directors of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Daniel Eisen and David Fuentes will serve as co-leads on a new group of Equity and Inclusion Advocates. This team has the full support of the President’s Cabinet and will report to Vice President Mark Ankeny regarding their tasks. Short bios on each of them are at the end of this announcement.
The new Equity and Inclusion Advocates will be a trained and accountable team of faculty and staff who agree to support the university community around equity and inclusivity by listening and responding to student and colleague concerns about campus climate, opportunities for dialogue and incidents of perceived inequity, bias, or discrimination. The team will not replace or duplicate existing student conduct, personnel or other student and employee support operations. Rather, the team will augment and inform these operations with a lens on equity and inclusion. Faculty and staff members are being drafted at present, including representatives from all campuses, several of whom are from the nominees you sent me. More information about who will serve as Equity and Inclusion Advocates will be shared after the holiday break.
The new team of Equity and Inclusion Advocates does not replace our University Diversity Committee, which is part of our shared governance structure with the Faculty, Student and Staff Senates. The University Diversity Committee, which reports to the University Council and advises the President and Cabinet, has been focused on university policy matters, and last spring following Alfonso Lopez-Vasquez’s retirement, prepared a white paper laying the ground work for the new permanent position. I have asked that committee to lead the search for this position. The University Diversity Committee will work closely with the interim leadership team. This will be facilitated by the fact that Pete Erschen was elected by that group to chair it this year. You can expect news on the university’s website early in the new year about the status of the search and ways the university community may continue to be involved.
Finally, the Interim Equity, Diversity and Inclusion leadership will be visiting with students, faculty and staff groups during spring. These focus groups will inform the incoming leader on the alignment of prior assessments conducted by the Office of Institutional Research with perception across campus. These visits will also help build coalitions to support the incoming leader’s early efforts to align various diversity initiatives occurring across our institution and to foster shared responsibility for equity and inclusion.
You may reach Bevin and Pete at email@example.com. Since both are retaining approximately half of their former positions, they will be sharing an office in Scott Hall (Room 106), immediately adjacent to Room 107, space dedicated to foster the emergence of a Multicultural Center.
As I have mentioned in my prior communications this fall on this topic, it continues to be our highest priority that all our students, faculty and staff feel supported and valued in our educational endeavors. As students are finishing their final exams, papers and projects and we move into the holiday break, please continue to show kindness and respect to one another. Feel free to reach out with your questions and ideas to the Interim Equity, Diversity and Inclusion leadership team, to Mark Ankeny, or to me directly.
Lesley M. Hallick
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Interim Leadership
Pete Erschen, MS, is the Assistant Director of Student Activities and Multicultural Interests. He has also served as Assistant Director for Learning Support Services for Students with Disabilities and has co-advised a variety of student organizations, including the Rainbow Coalition and Na Haumana O Hawaii. He has served as Diversity Initiatives Coordinator for the West Regional Conference of the National Association of Campus Activities.
Bevin McCarthy, MEd, is the Assistant Director of the Center for Civic Engagement. She has served for three years as a facilitator on Pacific’s Social Justice Retreat. Before teaching civic engagement courses at the undergraduate level, Bevin worked in middle and high schools for over a decade as a Spanish and Leadership teacher in Bolivia, China and the U.S. Bevin is a returned Peace Corps volunteer.
Daniel Eisen, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Sociology. As a critical race scholar his work focuses on how race influences our social structures, social climates, and interactions. In addition to academic publications on these topics, he writes a monthly “diversity and culture” column for The Fil-Am Courier and helps organize a yearly social justice retreat. He serves on the National Advisory Council for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education.
David Fuentes, PharmD, is the Assistant Dean for Academics and Assessment for the School of Pharmacy. In addition to curricular and programmatic assessment initiatives in the School of Pharmacy, he provides strengths-focused leadership and support in instructional design, teaching development, assessment of student learning, accreditation, interprofessional education and mentorship. He also served as a department chair and assistant dean at Manchester University.