To the Clark Community:
Clark’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging remains a top priority and our work will continue through the summer in preparation for our next academic year. Following is a quarterly highlight of many of our efforts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). For regular updates and more information about initiatives underway, be sure to visit our DEI website.
Interim CODEI Named
On June 3, President Fithian announced that Dr. Judy (JJ) Jackson will serve as interim Chief Officer of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (CODEI) while the national search for a permanent appointment continues. Dr. Jackson will oversee the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, serve on the university’s Leadership Team, and be responsible for programming and support for all members of the Clark community. She is going to contribute greatly to helping the university move forward in these important efforts.
Dr. Jackson brings to Clark an impressive portfolio of experience. She led DEI programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 2016-2019 and at the University of Kentucky from 2008-2015. Before that, she served from 2004-2008 as Dean of the College at Vassar. Most recently, following her retirement from MIT, Dr. Jackson was Interim Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Colby College. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, a master’s degree from Bucknell, and a doctorate from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
New Assistant Dean Structure in Support of DEI
The university has created a new structure to bring greater impact to our student and academic-facing DEI efforts. Three Assistant Deans – one reporting to the Dean of the Faculty; one reporting to the Dean of the College; and one reporting to the Dean of Students – now will be responsible for deepening and better coordinating DEI efforts in several key areas. Effective June 21, Hayley Haywood has been appointed to a new Assistant Dean for Equity in Research and Learning position, in which she will work with individual faculty and departments to bring a student-oriented, equity-focused lens to increasing equity for historically underrepresented groups in research opportunities. She will also help to organize and implement the Mentorship Matrix program along with a number of other initiatives in partnership with Assistant Deans for Equity in Student Affairs and the College.
In another important leadership advancement, Professor Jie Park has been promoted to Associate Dean for Faculty-Facing Diversity Initiatives, with responsibility for continuing to evolve anti-racist pedagogy in the university’s curriculum working in collaboration with Professor Laurie Ross, Associate Dean and Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).
Activities/Events in the month of June
On June 9, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and a collective of campus partners representing offices from various units will hold the 2nd Annual Lavender Celebration, a ceremony conducted to recognize unique achievements of graduating seniors who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Also on June 9, in partnership with Clark Undergraduate Student Council, Multicultural First Generation Student Support is holding the first-ever Multicultural Graduation Ceremony to honor and recognize BIPOC graduating seniors.
Beginning this year, the University will recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday (on June 18th because the official day of June 19 falls on a weekend). In honor of Juneteenth, a day commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, we will be hosting an event titled “‘This Was Not a Riot:’ History, Memory and the Bombing of Black Wall Street.” The event will feature a viewing of the documentary film “Blood on Black Wall Street” followed by a guided conversation, led by Prof. Ousmane Power Greene. The event will take place on June 17 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. Please be on the lookout for details to come.
Student-Led Food Pantry
Thanks to student-led efforts, the FIRM Food Pantry has been open throughout the spring semester and been regularly restocked with fresh produce and food, as well as personal necessities. The food pantry is providing an essential service to many within the Clark community. Through the end of May, there were over 240 visits to the food pantry by 120 unique participants. Because of its success and the important difference it is making, the university is committed to finding a permanent home for the food pantry so that it will continue operating. More details will be shared before the beginning of the fall semester.
Swipe Out Hunger
Swipe Out Hunger is a new program created to support Clark students who are experiencing food insecurity. Under the program, a set number of meal swipes are deposited into a student’s Clark ID account, free of charge. A one-month pilot which ended on June 4 demonstrated the need for and the impact of the program: over 50 students were served and almost 300 meals were allocated; 148 meals were donated by faculty and staff. The program will continue in the fall when meal plans resume.
In response to student-led advocacy efforts, Residential Life and Housing (RLH) has implemented an affinity housing program that will begin in the fall of 2021. Affinity housing will be located on the 4th Floor of the Johnson Sanford Center and is an opportunity for students who share a commitment to learning about and centering Blackness and fighting anti-Blackness. Students who apply to live in this affinity housing will set community norms together, host educational and social events, and build community through learning from and living with people with an interest in learning how to resist and fight anti-Blackness, centering the experiences of students of color. Learn more and apply for affinity housing on the RLH website.
Student Lockout Assistants
As part of ongoing efforts to re-envision the role of the Clark University Police Department, Chief Misale has transitioned responsibility for assisting student residents who are locked out of dorm rooms to student employees. Beginning in March, student lock-out assistants have been working every day from 9 am to 1 am and will be utilized going forward.
Clark Career Connections/Project Onramp
Clark University is the first university to partner with Project Onramp, a workforce development organization developed by leading Massachusetts life sciences organizations to bridge the opportunity gap for students from historically marginalized populations and to help students gain access to paid opportunities within a highly competitive industry that is known for significant barriers to entry, especially for students from underrepresented groups. Clark students have been offered the opportunity to apply for internship positions in STEM and non-STEM related roles with leading life sciences organizations in the Worcester to Boston corridor, including first access to positions in Worcester, as negotiated between the Clark Career Connections and Project Onramp. Worcester internships included positions with AbbVie, Charles River Laboratories, LakePharma, Enable Life Sciences, and MustangBio. To date, 13 Clark students have received internship offers for summer 2021.
Bias Incident Response Protocol
Following input from students, as a result of student advocacy, and under Director of Diversity and Inclusion Michael Vidal’s leadership, we have enhanced the university’s Bias Incident Response Protocol. The Protocol includes guidance and a channel for reporting bias incidents and/or hate crimes, as well as the procedures the university will follow in response to reported incidents. An updated form and deeper context will provide better support and stronger response to alleged incidents.
David B. Fithian ’87