September 9, 2016
As the energy and bustle returns to campus, ushering in the start of another academic year, I am reminded of the imperative nature of Grand Valley’s ongoing efforts to become more equitable and inclusive. A socially just and welcoming campus is essential for both the success and well-being of GVSU’s students, faculty, and staff. It is with this understanding and focus that the Division of Inclusion and Equity enters the second year operating under its 2016-2021 Strategic Plan and Framework for Inclusion and Equity. And, with the addition of four new staff members (see below), the division has undergone significant reorganization.
This academic-year marks the beginning of the first full-year with the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center, Office of Multicultural Affairs, and the Women’s Center in the Division of Inclusion and Equity. This is also the inaugural year for Campus Interfaith Resources and our Social Justice Education Program, with further developments underway. Together with our existing offices, Disability Support Resources, Title IX, and Affirmative Action (now under the umbrella of the Equity, Planning and Compliance unit), we are working hard to provide resources for and to meet the needs of our diverse campus.
This semester the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center will launch an LGBT mentoring program to connect students with faculty and staff. The Office of Multicultural Affairs is piloting a Student Success Coach to better serve our students. The Women’s Center is reflecting on its history and preparing for the future as they celebrate their 15th anniversary. Disability Support Resources continues to meet the needs of our community and has already registered a record number of first-year students for resources this semester. We are undergoing changes to our Affirmative Action program, and continue emphasis on our commitment to eliminating sexual violence and sexual- or gender-based harassment at GVSU through our Title IX office along with other campus partners.
At the same time, we recognize that the Division of Inclusion and Equity cannot increase inclusion or improve our campus climate alone. We rely heavily on our partners across the university and count on each of you to be a positive force in our community. GVSU's commitment to inclusion and equity is embedded across all of our areas. Together, we will continue to strive to not only make GVSU the model for diversity and inclusion in higher education in West Michigan, but across the country.
Jesse M. Bernal, Ph.D.
Vice President for Inclusion and Equity