Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Will Add Support to Programs Across Campus
For many of his 31 years at Gonzaga, Raymond Reyes has been a voice for equity and inclusion on campus before the title of chief diversity officer (CDO) was created in higher education. “In Jesuit education, our distinctiveness is animating the spiritual significance as well as the educational value of human difference,” says Associate Provost Reyes. “Inclusion and equity are the pedagogical aquifer that nourishes deep critical thinking. Being able to critically see things from multiple perspectives – across diverse social identities – raises our collective IQ as a community in service to the Greater Good.”
At an age when his peers are retiring, Reyes is still passionately motivated with plans to recreate himself, but not retire, by perhaps someday returning to teaching. However, President Thayne McCulloh recognizes the need to institutionalize and sustain the University’s mission commitments to diversity beyond any one person’s vision or effort. Hence, earlier this year, the president established the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), as part of the restructuring under the provost model. The DEI office is located in College Hall 113. Reyes is joined by Office Manager and Communications Coordinator Naghmana Sherazi. Reyes plans to hire an interim associate CDO for the fall 2019 semester, and search for a permanent associate CDO to begin spring 2020 semester.
“A central diversity office will enable us to offer administrative, programmatic and technical support to sustain programs, services and initiatives throughout the University addressing diversity-related issues and needs,” Reyes says.
The DEI office will be a central place helping define priorities and goals for the University. Students have asked for more communications, better transparency and accountability. Reyes says the office will honor the student voice as well as respond to many recommendations from the campus climate assessment research study by Sue Rankin & Associates.
Reyes says “We are similar to Mission and Ministry and the Office of Institutional Research, in working across the entire University. In our case, we are supporting our colleagues across divisions and departments to become more effective with communicating across differences. This office will support the University’s desire to be held accountable for walking the talk of its mission as it pertains to DEI.”
Reyes says we can’t lose sight of the educational value of human difference. “We are here to educate future leaders, and that future is going to be highly diverse and extremely challenging by globalization. We need to leverage the value proposition of global diversity and intercultural fluency.”
Reyes sees all of us at the University as ambassadors for our Admission enterprise. “Recent reports are indicating that we have a 95% retention rate, and that’s unheard of across the country. We’re all doing this together and we’re succeeding making GU a warm, welcoming place,” he says.
What is the equivalent of going to the NCAA Final Four in DEI work for GU? What is the equivalent DEI metric for a 95% retention rate? These are questions that the DEI Office will attempt to answer as we venture to create a more diverse workforce and support our staff and faculty colleagues to be more interculturally effective in how they serve our students and each other, Reyes says.