As West Virginia University celebrates Diversity Week this week (Sept. 29-Oct. 3), David Fryson, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and his team are working to change the reality and perception of diversity within the University and throughout the state and nation.
Since its creation two years ago, the division has participated in national and local recruiting and outreach events, and has assisted in expanding the University’s land-grant mission for underrepresented communities. In addition, the division has formed an aggressive response in complying with Title IX federal rules particularly relating to sexual assault.
“Nevertheless, the work of diversity is not just the work of one division,” Fryson said, “but is the responsibility of the entire campus community and beyond. Little can be accomplished without the effort of the entire community.”
“Making the University more diverse begins with recruiting diverse candidates through targeted pipeline programs while at the same time developing procedures and training to make the campus community more aware of unconscious bias,” Fryson said. “We must shift the perception of what an effective search should look like.”
An overarching theme of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s efforts is to unify compliance efforts with broader diversity initiatives. The affirmative action program serves as a natural bridge between these two areas of the division’s work.
Since the division transitioned from the former President’s Office for Social Justice, Fryson has added some new faces to complement existing staff members. From there, each office within the division has also developed new partnerships and directions.
- Supporting the leadership of Academic Affairs by connecting under-represented faculty with resources from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, which includes mentoring.
- Raising awareness of WVU’s diversity efforts in different diversity-related environments such as MegaFest in Dallas, Texas, and as the primary sponsor of West Virginia MultiFest 2014, the largest diversity festival in West Virginia for the past 25 years.
- Engaging in outreach efforts that include the development of the WVU LGBTQ Equity Commission and affiliating with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
- Participating in the Sexual Assault Response Team and Community Coordinator Response Team to address Title IX responsibilities to protect the WVU community.
- Developing Title IX training for all incoming WVU students and employees as well as specific training for residence hall and athletics employees.
- Continuing to serve approximately 1,500 students each semester with accessibility needs, such as classroom accommodations, tutoring and mentoring through the Mountaineer Academic Program, alternative formatted materials, such as audio books, close captioning of films and videos and interpreting, transcribing services for the deaf and hard of hearing.
- Collaborating with WELLWVU to create the Sexual Assault Resource Guide and Carry Card.
- With the financial support of Academic Affairs, helping WVU become a founding institution in the new Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia Higher Education Recruitment Consortium.
- Pooling training resources with the WVU ADVANCE Center, which focuses on recruiting and supporting women in science, technology, engineering and math fields as both faculty and students.
- Continuing to support and centrally plan significant events that support diversity such as Diversity Week and award programs.
- Making plans to evaluate the impact of diversity practices and institutional climate, and use the findings to advance diversity at WVU.
CONTACT: David Fryson; Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
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