The Division of Inclusion and Equity's Winter 2017 newsletter was distributed to faculty, staff, and students on March 1, 2017. The newsletter contains updates and feature stories related to equity, inclusion, and social justice at Grand Valley. Vice President Bernal's introduction letter from the newsletter is below. Read the full newsletter here.
A Message from Vice President Bernal:
Last month marked two years since I arrived in West Michigan to serve as the Vice President for Inclusion and Equity at Grand Valley. It was a big move for me -- a chance to advance equity, inclusion, and social justice at an institution that was growing in these areas and ripe to become a national model for equity and inclusion in higher education. It also represented a chance for me to put down roots in a new place, far from where I grew up in Texas and where I began my career in California. Over the past two years, I have come to feel at home in West Michigan and at Grand Valley.
I have been fortunate to have the support of so many great partners at the university who have led this work far prior to my arrival and who, together, work to advance inclusion, increase accessibility, and ensure equity. The Division of Inclusion and Equity has grown significantly over this period and has worked concertedly to advance our strategic plan and Framework for Inclusion and Equity.
Most recently, the Kaufman Interfaith Institute joined the Division of Inclusion and Equity. This move will allow the Institute to continue its exceptional community work while also continuing to develop a presence on our campus. Interfaith dialogue and understanding, as well as religious tolerance, are more important than ever in today’s world. The Division of Inclusion and Equity seeks to embrace diversity in its fullest sense and to understand complex intersecting social identities. Attention to religious and spiritual identity is a natural part of this work.
The past two years, have of course, not been without challenges. However, I remain confident that Grand Valley is well positioned to address the challenges ahead and become a national model for equity, inclusion, and social justice in higher education. We remain committed to creating an environment where everyone can be their full authentic selves, and where your Laker Effect -- our collective impact on the community, West Michigan, the state, and beyond -- can be fully realized by every single member of our community. I am optimistic because I have colleagues, like President Haas and his cabinet, who share this vision for GVSU and our community. Furthermore, I am grateful for the team in Inclusion and Equity and partners across campus who make this work possible. And, as I reflect on the past two years, I also look forward with excitement about what the future holds for Grand Valley and our community.
Jesse M. Bernal, Ph.D.
Vice President for Inclusion and Equity