Loyola adds more diversity to Core Curriculum
By Amanda Friedlander | Student reporter
Last spring, a group of Loyola students approached the University with concerns about a lack of diversity in the Core Curriculum. They sought to broaden the range of courses that would satisfy Core Curriculum requirements, including classes focused on non-Western history and non-Christian religions. Other students joined in the effort, prompting a discussion with University leaders about the issue.
Visit the Core Curriculum website to view the changes and offerings. Registration begins in early April.
At the time, the University was in the process of assessing and evaluating the Core Curriculum, and waiting to make changes until the assessment was complete.
“The Higher Learning Commission had said we should roll out the current Core for a few years before other changes were made,” says Jo Beth D’Agostino, associate provost for curriculum development. “We were in a moratorium when the students raised these issues, but they felt strongly about them and we felt strongly about them, so we made an exception.”
The Core Curriculum consists of 48 credit hours, or 16 classes, covering 10 knowledge areas such as writing, science, history, and theology. Six of those knowledge areas require students to take both a foundational Tier I course and an additional Tier II course. The Core Curriculum was changed in 2005 and again in 2012; both instances aimed to increase diversity in the required courses and allow students to broaden their understanding of the world as a whole—not just the majority populations of Western society.
Beginning in fall 2017, students will have two additional options to satisfy their Tier I history requirement. In addition to the History of Western Civilization before and after the 17th century, students will have the option to take either American Pluralism or Global History from 1500. Each of these courses will focus on history from the perspective of non-majority populations through the lens of gender identity, race, and religion.
Students will also have the option of taking new Core classes in other knowledge areas. A course on women’s studies and gender studies from a global perspective will be added as a Tier I course in the area of societal and cultural knowledge. Three new Tier II theology classes will also be added, including Social Justice and Injustice, Ethics and Ecology Crises from a Global Perspective, and Religions of Asia.
The Jesuit tradition
At the forefront of these changes is David Slavsky, former director of the Core Curriculum. Slavsky, who is also chair of the physics department and director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, and other University leaders met with the students who raised concerns about the curriculum. They worked with them to create solutions that would not only satisfy University requirements but also students’ needs for inclusivity and intersectionality in higher education.
Several boards must review and approve proposed changes to the curriculum, a process that looks at rationale for the changes, what effect they will have on student learning, and how they fulfill Loyola’s Jesuit, Catholic mission. The speed of this process typically depends on how quickly each board completes its respective paperwork, but it usually takes about a year and a half from start to finish.
“We moved carefully, but quickly,” Slavsky says. “I got the impression that [students] assumed we’d be oppositional, and that they’d have to overcome our resistance. And rather, our view was, ‘Let’s hear your points. Let’s see if we can work this out.’ And we had really good discussions.”
Some of the challenges that arose during the process of creating and implementing new Core courses involved navigating the needs of 21st century students in alignment with the centuries-old traditions of a Jesuit university. Each review board had to determine what courses will capture the most student interest versus what will best serve students in the long run.
“The idea the early Jesuits had is a good idea, but they didn’t know about molecular biology,” Slavsky says. “They didn’t know about climate change. So how do we maintain that tradition? We have almost 500 years showing us it’s a pretty good tradition, but how do we make changes to meet the needs that our students face?”
An ongoing conversation
Other Jesuit universities are grappling with similar issues. Core directors across the country discuss changes in student interest, as well as how to solve similar issues based on local resources and culture. Each director contributes to the conversation by offering solutions that have worked at their respective universities.
The conversation is ongoing and constantly changing, depending on the needs of their students. While students can count on the Core Curriculum involving theology and philosophy for many years to come, the exact distribution and variety of courses is ever a work in progress, Slavsky said.
As the current changes were inspired by students speaking up about their concerns, Slavsky encourages any student who has concerns about the curriculum to speak with his or her academic department and work with faculty to create change.
“We want to make students active participants in the American republic. We want them to be engaged and informed participants,” he says. “And we think in order to do that, they need to have rigorous academic experiences in as many of the major knowledge areas as they can. And so that’s what we’re always thinking about whenever we add to, subtract from, or change the Core.”
New UNIV 102 class to tackle bias
By Anna Gaynor
This spring semester, freshmen at Loyola will have a new chance to connect with one another—but it’s not through student groups or watching the basketball team play.
Instead, new sections of UNIV 102 will be devoted to helping students better understand themselves and each other. Titled Understanding Bias, these classes will tackle privileges and prejudices and help students navigate the difficult conversations they can face in college and beyond.
“Pretty much everyone here at Loyola regardless of their role—or everyone in the world—have had experiences where they’ve been uncomfortable because of something about themselves that they can’t change or don’t want to change,” said Robyn Mallett, an associate professor in psychology. “They’ve been made to feel ‘less than’ in some way—or they’ve made other people feel ‘less than’ in some way.”
Mallett said a freshman-level course can help students recognize their own biases, where those biases come from, and the best way to address them. She is one of many Loyolans who have stepped in to develop these new sections of UNIV 102, a weekly one-hour course where each class is dedicated to a different topic or major. Past classes have included everything from weird poetry to neuroscience to coping with failure. But next semester, five classes will be focused on understanding bias.
The new sections will bring together staff from Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs as well as faculty from the School of Education, the School of Social Work, and the Department of Psychology.
A new outlook
Chris Manning, an associate professor of history and assistant provost for academic diversity, coordinated the class’s formation. The idea came from a number of sources, including Loyola’s strategic plan, “Plan 2020: Building a More Just, Humane, and Sustainable World,” and from talking with self-identified minority students and faculty.
“Conversation after conversation on campus has revealed to me that we have a large number of people who have empathy but may be silent because they’re not sure of how to talk about things,” Manning said. “They’re afraid of being embarrassed, they’re afraid of hurting themselves, they’re afraid of hurting others.
“When you have that many afraids—and this is coming from people who are underrepresented minorities and also people who are in the majority—when we have that many people who are just worried about talking, well, you really can’t move forward at all.”
By reaching out to freshmen, Mallett believes this course can change students’ outlook and maybe even their path at Loyola.
“It can get them to make more friends from different groups, it can get them to appreciate more of the world, it can get them to seclude themselves less,” Mallett said. “It will make them more open to new experiences and ideas. Our world is increasingly more diverse and if they want to have a shot at being a full participant in that, they need to get comfortable with these conversations.”
A group effort
In the fields of education, psychology, and social work, students need to understand any small or large biases they might have. Even the unintentional ones can have a profound impact on their work in a community.
Bridget Kelly, an associate professor in Loyola’s School of Education, teaches graduate students about recognizing the privileges that can make them blind to others’ struggles. For example, a student might experience oppression because he identifies as a person of color—but that same student might not be able to understand the privilege he has as a heterosexual, Christian man.
In her class, Kelly stresses the importance of social justice and keeping educational practices inclusive for groups that have been marginalized or isolated. Kelly worked with Mallett and Jeanne Sokolec from the School of Social Work to develop the coursework for the new UNIV 102 classes. The course provides an opportunity for students to answer some important questions: What do they believe and why? How do they feel about issues linked to diversity and inclusion? Or international movements like Black Lives Matter?
“When you graduate from Loyola, what does it mean to be leaders for others, leaders in the world from a social justice perspective?” Kelly said. “I think having a course to specifically focus on that and give students the time to think about that is really important.”
By navigating incredibly difficult conversations, students can find a better understanding of what causes prejudices and the best ways to address them.
“It’s a lot easier to judge, to blame, to complain, to debate, and to try to get people to see the error of their ways,” Kelly said. “Those things come more readily to people than it is to just take the other person’s perspective and to look for the good in an idea you oppose.
“The more practice we have at those things, the more readily those skills will come as opposed to again the shaming, the blaming, and trying to get them to be more like us.”
Faculty members discuss diversity
As a Jesuit university, Loyola welcomes the free exchange of ideas between everyone on campus. It’s at the heart of who we are.
This is the first in an occasional series of discussions about diversity at Loyola. Check back in the fall for a round-table talk with students.
In that spirit, we brought in eight faculty members to talk about faculty diversity and inclusion—and why it’s so important at a university.
The format was simple: We gathered around a table, turned on a recorder, and talked. It didn’t take long for people to show how passionate they are about trying to improve diversity at Loyola.
For this discussion, we gathered the following eight faculty members:
- Rodney Dale, PhD, Department of Biology (at Loyola since 2012)
- Aaron Greer, MFA, School of Communication (2008)
- Geraldine Rosa Henderson, PhD, Quinlan School of Business (2014)
- Harveen Mann, PhD, Department of English (1990)
- Juan F. Perea, JD, School of Law (2011)
- Erika Piedras-Renteria, PhD, Stritch School of Medicine (2001)
- Elizabeth Vera, PhD, School of Education (1993)
- Neil Williams, JD, School of Law (1989)
Even before the first question was asked, several participants started talking about diversity and the value of having an open discussion about the issue.
Some wondered, however, if having a conversation with only diverse faculty members would just be “preaching to the choir,” as one put it. Others, meanwhile, were skeptical that their voices and suggestions would be heard by upper administration.
Below is an edited version of their conversation. (Note: For the sake of time, not all participants had a chance to answer every question.)
Neil Williams: This is a special moment in time—in particular, for the University itself. We’re in a leadership transition, but I would hope that as a result of what we say here that we will get the ear of the next president and the provost, and we will be included in a broader discussion with them.
Rodney Dale: I was not sure about coming to this while still in the tenure process, but I agree with Neil. If there’s an opportunity (to improve things) I’m going to take it and hope for the best.
There’s been a lot of talk recently on college campuses about “diversity” and “inclusion.” Those words can certainly mean different things to different people. How would you define “diversity” and “inclusion”?
Elizabeth Vera: I think that there’s sort of the large view of diversity, which I think is inclusive of all underrepresented groups. In the case of Loyola, we have some very serious problems around race, particularly around the recruitment and retention of African-American students. So there’s that context that defines diversity for me, and then there’s sort of a larger vision of diversity that I have—which is gender, race, social class, sexual orientation, religion. Under that umbrella, there’s a lot of diversity here. But when you kind of pull back and say, “When we’re talking about Loyola, where are the pockets of inequity?” I think we can be much more specific about that.
Harveen Mann: What I’ve found in my conversations with people is that the idea of diversity gets “hijacked.” When you talk about racial and ethnic diversity, people deflect, and they talk about other kinds of diversity. Immediately they say, “Let’s talk about this (other) group, or the third group, or the fourth group.” And race and ethnicity, again, take a back seat. Yes, diversity of all sorts is very important. But at this point the University needs to focus its attention on racial and ethnic diversity first.
And why is it important for a university’s faculty to be diverse?
Erika Piedras-Renteria: You need diverse voices. Being a Hispanic here, it’s always been shocking to me that I never had a Hispanic professor—ever. You feel isolated. And I know that students seek someone they can relate to or connect with. I’ve been very lucky to attract undergraduate students who seek out my laboratory for more than the science; they come for the environment that I create. It’s about the culture, it’s about who you are. That’s what you need.
Mann: But it’s also very important—and I’m going to use old-fashioned terms here—for the white kids to be taught by a Hispanic faculty member or other minority. I’m an Indian woman who teaches in the English department, so I am very much a foreigner in that sense. But what I admire about the students—and what is reflective of their open-mindedness—is that not one of them, in the thousands I have taught, has ever written in their evaluations, “How dare an Indian woman teach me English.” And that’s what I hope they continue to learn and value: that you don’t need a white professor to teach you English or any other subject.
Aaron Greer: I think people also bring very different experiences to the classroom. I see it all the time. It’s not that my white colleagues don’t do this, but it’s probably not their first instinct. They’ll show a Spike Lee film, but they’ll do it as part of “Diversity Day” or something. But that might be my default. The students often won’t seek these different things out on their own, so sometimes you have to bring the horse to the water, so to speak.
Perea: The most important meaning of race, I think, is lived experience. And because of vastly different lived experiences due to color and other aspects of race, persons of color often have different knowledge of the world and a different sense of what’s important. I think faculty diversity matters because of that different knowledge and awareness. It also matters with regard to the production of knowledge that grows out of that different awareness. There doesn't appear to be any good reason for this institution to continue to be unrepresentative in its faculty and in its students. It’s purely a matter of fairness and commitment to getting it done.
In 2010, only 13 percent of all PhDs awarded to U.S. residents went to black or Hispanic graduates. In some fields that can create a huge supply and demand problem when it comes to hiring minority professors. What can be done now to help turn the tide?
Geraldine Rosa Henderson: It’s not a pipeline problem in my field. We have tons of people who have degrees from excellent places with excellent credentials who do not get considered because of the way the search process is conducted. When you say you want to bring someone in to work in a particular field, you start the search and say, “Oh, we want somebody whose work is in a very narrow subfield in a particular discipline.” That already compromises the search because it’s now narrowed down just to people who are in that very specific subfield. So instead of looking at the field as a whole, instead of looking at the “best athlete,” as we used to say, we’re now looking for someone who does this very narrow thing. It’s a flawed process with a flawed outcome.
Piedras-Renteria: We do have a pipeline problem in the STEM sciences, and we can’t address it just by throwing money at it. We must start from the very beginning, and we have to bring high school students to the lab. In my case, I work with students from Cristo Rey High School, and I keep them for three or four years. That’s the population we need to get, not someone who is already a PhD and who is going to get a fellowship. We need to tap into people who don’t even think of a certain area—whether it’s business or science or any other discipline—as a possible career. I think that’s where we are lacking.
Dale: I love Gerri’s comment about the “best athlete” out there. If you’re the best athlete, and you happen to be a person of color or any underrepresented group, you have offers before we even are ready to do a phone interview. Some schools have gotten really good about timing this. As soon as August 1 comes around, they have their ad out, everything is ready to go, and they will extend a job offer before other schools have even started their search. So we need to do a better job with timing our searches.
Vera: My rule when I was in the job market was, “I’m not going to be the only one.” So I would not apply to departments where there were no other people of color. I was very lucky that in my program we had an extremely diverse faculty. But I think in other departments, where there isn’t that diversity, I wouldn’t want to be the only one. And we also have some departments that have horrible track records of not tenuring faculty of color. So if you’ve seen a department chew up and spit out all of its minority faculty for the past 10 years, why would you want to be the next one?
Mann: I want to go back to the “best athlete” idea and that people are wooing these candidates. You have to be willing to spend extra resources if you really want these candidates. But I have found the administration balking when it comes down to making such decisions. A colleague of ours said that at Oakton Community College—and it sounds Draconian, yes, but maybe it’s what Loyola needs to do—they said, “Either you hire a minority faculty member or there will be no hires at all.”
But just earning a PhD doesn’t solve the diversity issue. Talk a little bit about the unique challenges that minority professors face after they get hired.
Dale: There’s a lot of extra pressure. We all feel like we’ve been helped by others and now we want to give back. I’ll have students in my office at all hours because I want to help them. But what is that doing for your time for writing papers or doing research? And I don’t think it’s just a minority or underrepresented issue. I think a lot of times it’s a socio-economic issue. I have a colleague who is pushing hard to help minority students, and he’s not a minority. He is just a person who is passionate about helping students reach their goals.
Perea: One challenge can arise if a minority professor studies issues concerning minorities. Sometimes research about race is not taken as seriously as other subjects. I’ve committed myself to studying the legal history of race and the way that law actually reinforces racism. While this has not arisen at Loyola, at other institutions my research has been discounted because I write about race and racism.
Greer: You’re going to be asked to represent minorities—or feel the need to represent minorities—on all sorts of committees or faculty meetings. And there are all kinds of pressures that go with that. It’s a difficult position to put people in. Just in terms of the social pressures and the politics of the department or school, it’s hard.
Henderson: It’s not just the students of color that come for mentoring. I mentor all kinds of students because teaching is my calling. I love it. I love the students. I don’t have children, and I consider my students my children. I really do care for them. But I also know I need to protect my time and myself because at the end of the year, I have to get all of the other aspects of my work done. And it can be very difficult.
Let’s turn our attention to Loyola specifically. You’ve all been here for a while and know the University very well. What would you tell a colleague who was thinking about coming here to work? The positives? The negatives?
Piedras-Renteria: I think Loyola is making a good effort to increase diversity in the faculty ranks, at least in the Maywood campus. There have been several initiatives there to improve recruiting of underrepresented minorities. But there’s a lot of work to be done. So I would recommend Loyola, but we still have issues to address.
Vera: One of the challenges in a place like Loyola is that so many initiatives depend on individual leaders. It’s hard to know what has legs, what’s going to last. Our new president will start in the fall, and I hope she will embrace our current initiatives. She’s our first female president, and I would like to think that bodes well for improving diversity across campus.
Williams: As far as the law school is concerned, I would tell them that in the last 10-11 years, we’ve really enhanced faculty diversity. I think we’re moving toward developing an atmosphere that’s more inclusive and respectful. I would also tell them that you have to realize that no matter where you go, this is a never-ending battle. It’s like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill; you’re never going to get to the top. Nevertheless, you have to keep pushing and not give up.
Greer: The School of Communication, like the law school, I think has been pretty good in terms of increasing faculty and staff diversity over the past five or six years. I’d also say that Loyola takes its social justice mission very seriously. The negative for me is not so much the lack of diversity in terms of faculty and staff—it’s the lack of diversity in terms of students. It hurts my heart. I can go whole semesters and not have a black student in any of my classes. I think seeing that can affect potential faculty members.
Henderson: The fact that we’re a Jesuit university, the fact that we have such a concern about others and social justice, I just assumed that we had diversity here. But when I got here and I found out I’m the only traditionally underrepresented minority in the business school as a faculty member, I was shocked. It’s perplexing to me. It’s a paradox. It doesn’t seem to make sense.
Loyola’s faculty has become more diverse over the past several years, but it’s still overwhelmingly white. So if you were in charge, what are some things you would do to make the University more diverse?
Williams: There was a point that Harveen made earlier that I think is important. The idea of saying to deans, for example, that if you don’t hire a diverse candidate for this slot, it won’t be filled. That would be one thing I would do. The other thing I would do, and this starts with the new president and new provost, is make sure that the schools are headed by deans and administrators who have a genuine commitment to diversity—people who live and breath diversity. I think minority recruitment also should be one of the metrics we use to measure a leader’s performance, not just something worth 2 or 3 percent, but it should be a major component of their performance evaluation.
Perea: I second that. There has to be accountability. And, at least in legal education, I don’t think it’s a supply problem. I think it’s a matter of committing resources and making the effort, and having specific goals and accountability for those goals. So I would make diversity hires and a diverse student body a measurable criterion and evaluate administrators based on their demonstrated, measurable results. You have to create incentives for people to do the right thing.
Dale: I think we need to be very careful about saying there are incentives to hire minorities. Because we need to think about what that could mean for the person who is hired. What will their colleagues say and how will they be seen in their department? We need to hire the best athlete, not just fill a quota. It has to be done in a way that does not leave someone thinking, “Did I get this job because I earned it? Or did I get it to fill a box or help the University achieve a set number?”
Greer: We need to make minority recruitment and hiring a priority. I think it should be one of the foundational legs of our strategic plan. Also, instead of just hiring one person to replace somebody, we should be doing cluster hires so we can change a program or a department or a school. Next, and I don’t know what the cost of this would be, but I would like to see us pivot a little in terms of our admission approach (and recruit more minority students). That’s not specifically addressing faculty, but it has a trickle-down effect. It’s really about creating the right culture and reputation. It’s not just about creating a pretty United Colors of Benetton poster. It’s about what we stand for as an institution.
He has a passion for helping minority students
Joe Saucedo goes to work every day with one goal in mind: to help underrepresented students at Loyola succeed.
Saucedo, who is the director of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs (SDMA), can relate to many of the minority students he helps. He grew up in a working-class community. He was the first person in his family to attend college. And as a graduate of Georgetown University, he knows the value of a Jesuit education.
Here, he talks about his life before Loyola, why connecting with students is so important, and what every future Rambler should know before stepping foot on campus.
What did you do before you came to Loyola?
I worked in Latino advertising in my hometown of San Antonio and managed campaigns for a variety of clients. But I soon realized I wanted to work in education and help others reach their potential. I landed a position with the Harvey Mudd College Upward Bound program in Southern California, and I eventually earned a graduate degree in education. I came to Loyola in 2011 as the resident director of Baumhart Hall and then moved over to SDMA a couple of years later.
How do you and your staff at SDMA help students?
I’m all about getting to know people one-on-one, and so the first step in helping students is establishing rapport and getting to know who they are and where they are coming from. My staff and I connect students with the resources they need—from workshops to mentoring programs and more. We work hard to ensure that all members of the Loyola community are doing their part to make the University an inclusive and welcoming environment.
Is your department just for underrepresented students?
Definitely not. That might be the perception, but the reality is we’re a resource for everyone. I would hope that everyone at Loyola recognizes the ways in which multiple identities and life experiences can intersect—and that diversity applies to all of us.
You attended a Jesuit university and now you work at one. So what does social justice mean to you?
I believe that true social justice goes beyond providing access to the same services and resources to all. It requires each person to understand the unique needs of groups and for all of us to find solutions that respect those needs. I believe I have a responsibility to confront oppression when I see it, which is why I feel so passionate about the work of my department.
And finally, what advice would you share with future Ramblers?
The college experience is so different for each person, so I tell students not to put so much pressure on themselves to do everything that everyone else seems to be doing. College is about growing, making mistakes, taking bold risks, and trusting that it will all work out as it should. My advice to future Ramblers would be to focus on academics and building relationships with friends who will be honest and caring.
Meet Loyola’s chief diversity and inclusion officer
Winifred Williams, PhD, has more than two decades of experience as an executive leader in the field of human resources and diversity. She joined Loyola in 2014, bringing knowledge and experience from a variety of industries, ranging from Catholic health care to aerospace, financial services, and higher education.
As the University’s vice president, chief human resources officer and its chief diversity and inclusion officer, she is using the depth of her experience to bring people together at Loyola.
“I have worked in Catholic health care and have conducted a lot of training in the areas of ministry leadership programs and diversity,” said Williams, who has a doctorate in organization and development and sits on the President’s Cabinet. “In my experience, everyone has a role in promoting diversity. My job is to help guide that mission.”
Here, Williams talks about her responsibilities and how the University is working to improve diversity among its faculty, staff, and students.
Talk a little about your role at the University.
I have two functions at Loyola. As the vice president of human resources, I have operational responsibility for recruitment, employment, and staffing for new employees; the University’s compensation, benefits, and retirement programs; employee and labor relations; our training and development programs; as well as human resources information systems.
In my second role, as chief diversity and inclusion officer, I serve in a strategic capacity as a champion for Loyola’s overall diversity and inclusion agenda. This is done by developing and facilitating the highest levels of strategy, decision making, priority setting, and actions necessary to advance diversity and inclusion at the University.
There are a lot of conversations on campus right now about diversity and improving the atmosphere for everyone here, so I see my role as providing oversight and suggestions on how to foster sharing and inclusion. Several good programs and effective resources are already in place; however, I believe we can seize opportunities to shape Loyola into an even more open and accepting university.
And how do you make that happen?
By making sure everyone feels included. It involves giving others mutual respect and valuing their differences. When we talk about listening to others, I mean truly inviting voices that represent diverse perspectives.
We have an Executive Council on Diversity and Inclusion that consists of faculty, staff, and student representatives from across the University. It is a way to bring people together to increase awareness about what is going on at Loyola and to coordinate our resources—basically, helping the right hand know what the left hand is doing.
The council will provide guidance on training and development; faculty, staff, and student recruitment; diversity and inclusion events, in addition to guiding analysis on the annual diversity report produced by the University.
Beyond creating the new executive council, what are some of the diversity accomplishments that you’re most proud of in the past year?
We are active in the Chicago Urban League and many other organizations that advance awareness and inclusion in the city and beyond. We have hundreds of faculty, staff, and students serving in various capacities throughout the community as volunteers and leaders. Arrupe College is one great example of Loyola opening its doors to a group of diverse students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue their educations. Last year, we received a national award from Minority Access for our work in The Graduate School to help underrepresented students earn graduate degrees. We have also engaged with the Association of Black Women in Higher Education, which provides networking opportunities for our African-American staff and faculty members.
Going forward, what are some of your main initiatives and goals for the University?
First and foremost, I want to have the Executive Council on Diversity and Inclusion to get up and running and develop a strategic plan in concert with the University’s Plan 2020. I also want to administer our campus climate survey to gather feedback and lead the development of action plans to strengthen our community.
The survey process will include faculty, staff, and students—a little over 20,000 people. It will begin this spring and will consist of focus group sessions to gather input, which will help shape the survey questions. The survey tool will then open and invite responses to those questions. We hope to have the results back by early summer, which will help determine our focus going forward.
We realize that we are a work in progress, but as a university, we have the desire and commitment to achieve what we all collectively strive for—to be part of and thrive in a truly supportive, respectful, and inclusive community.
Professor brings diverse perspective to Cabinet
As a child, Associate Professor Christopher E. Manning, PhD, lived on military bases around the world. It was a life-shaping experience that gave him a unique perspective on the meaning of diversity.
“When you’re an Army child and have lived overseas, you actually don’t have any idea about the concept of diversity—because diversity is the norm,” Manning said. “I had friends who were Japanese-American, Korean-American, Panamanian, you name it.”
Manning, who was appointed to the President’s Cabinet this semester to serve as a diversity advisor, came to Loyola in 2002 and has been a fixture in the Department of History ever since. Away from the University, he’s the founder and executive director of Inspiración Dance Chicago, a nonprofit Latin dance group that offers free or subsidized lessons to students and adults. And if that weren’t enough, Manning is also an avid martial artist with black belts in tae kwon do and hapkido.
It’s this varied background that makes Manning perfectly suited to help Loyola advance its diversity initiatives. Here, he talks about his new role, how history can help Loyola in the future, and what all organizations can do to become more diverse and inclusive.
Talk a little about your role as special advisor and what you hope to accomplish.
My role is to help the President’s Office get a sense of what’s going on across the University as far as efforts to improve diversity. There are a lot of units at Loyola that are making real efforts to improve the community and to understand our students better, but because they’re happening in different places, we need to coordinate those efforts. Another part of the job is to give Dr. Winifred Williams a hand in her role as chief diversity officer.
You’re currently involved with several diversity measures already, correct?
I’m working on four initiatives right now to develop policy proposals. The first deals with recruiting African-American students from high schools on the city’s South and West sides; the second looks at the diversity infrastructure at Loyola and compares it to our peer institutions; the third involves diversity training for incoming freshmen; and the final initiative looks at ways to improve diversity in regard to faculty hiring. By June of this year I hope to have reports on those issues with advice on how to improve them in a very specific and tangible way.
You teach courses on African-American history and the civil rights movement. What can Loyola learn from the past to help shape its future?
The civil rights movement showed the importance of coalition building and working across various boundaries. It brought together people from all different backgrounds but gave them a united sense of purpose. It showed people that despite having diverse histories, it’s in everyone’s best interest to work toward a common goal. That’s a very important lesson.
And finally, what are some things a university (or any other organization) can do to make itself more inclusive?
The first thing an institution—or even a person—needs to do is recognize that notions of inclusivity and diversity are not static. They are constantly changing. That’s why we want to make sure the diversity statement we’re working on has the idea of change embedded in it, that it doesn’t just speak to respecting a list of diverse populations. That holds us accountable as a community to constant growth and lets us work toward change, rather than setting a numerical goal and just stopping when we reach it.
Black Lives Matter Conference takes on racism
Nearly 100 people attended the Black Lives Matter Conference on April 2 at the University’s Water Tower Campus. (See photos from the event on Loyola’s official Flickr gallery.)
The conference, which was organized by three Loyola graduate students, brought people together from across the country to discuss racism, violence against blacks, and other diversity topics. The goal of the gathering, the organizers said, was to build solidarity and educate people about the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Organizer Candace Hairston stressed before the conference that the event would touch on several topics—not just police brutality.
“I want to emphasize that all black lives matter,” she said. “So we’re not just focusing on one single issue. We need to talk about other things like black trans women and failing schools and how that affects black lives. We need to have some really honest conversations about society.”
Daniel Guzman, another one of the organizers, said the conference would help students apply what they learn in school to the world around them.
“(We want) to make their education more real and relevant,” he said.
Highlights of the event included workshops, discussions, and a keynote address by activist Precious Davis.
The conference’s open approach meshed well with Loyola’s “Respect the Conversation” theme, which urges people to speak freely on campus—especially about complex issues.
To that end, several Loyola departments helped the students get their conference off the ground. Dana Bozeman, program director of the University’s Water Tower Campus Life department, served as advisor for the event and helped handle some of the logistics.
The third student organizer, Taiwo Adefiyiju, was pleased with the turnout and hopes the conference will grow into something even bigger.
“I thought the event was a great success,” Adefiyiju said. “I really enjoyed the energy from all participants, especially the youth who volunteered and attended.”
“I look forward to seeing how next year’s BLMC leaders execute the next conference,” she said. “This is not the end—it’s a start of a new and great beginning.”
Black Lives Matter Conference
Three Loyola graduate students are hoping to build on the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement.
But they’re not taking their message to the streets. Instead, they’re taking it to classrooms and conference halls.
The students—Candace Hairston, Taiwo Adefiyiju, and Daniel Guzman—are the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter Conference at Loyola’s Corboy Law Center. The April 2 event will bring together people from across the country to discuss racism, violence against blacks, and other diversity topics. The goal of the gathering is to learn more about the issues—and to find ways to address the problems.
“A lot of the mission is to be in solidarity with one another,” said Adefiyiju, who is working on her master’s degree in higher education. “We want to educate people about our community, about this movement, and why it’s so important.”
The conference is open to everyone, the co-founders said, not just Loyola students, staff, and faculty members. And while it will certainly address violence against blacks, the conference also will touch on several other topics.
“I want to emphasize that all black lives matter,” said Hairston, who also is getting her graduate degree in higher education. “So we’re not just focusing on one single issue like police brutality. We need to talk about other things like black trans women and failing schools and how that affects black lives. We need to have some really honest conversations about society.”
The conference’s open approach meshes well with Loyola’s “Respect the Conversation” theme, which urges people to speak freely on campus—especially about complex issues.
To that end, several Loyola departments are helping the students get their conference off the ground. Dana Bozeman, program director of the University’s Water Tower Campus Life department, has been the lead advisor for the event and has helped handle some of the logistics.
Other sponsors include the Unity in Diversity Fund, the Division of Student Development, the Center for Experiential Learning, the Center for Human Rights of Children, and the Black Cultural Center.
For Bozeman, the conference was an easy event to support.
“The social justice angle makes it a natural fit for our Ignatian heritage,” she said. “I’m tremendously proud of the students for putting this together. They’ve selected some great—and very important—topics to discuss.”
From Point A to PhD
In Response: Bioethicists Can and Should Contribute to Addressing Racism
Faculty and alumni of Loyola University Chicago’s Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics have written and published four articles in the April issue of The American Journal of Bioethics. All are in response to the article, “Bioethicists Can and Should Contribute to Addressing Racism.” As part of their mission, the Neiswanger Institute seeks to give rise to a research and teaching focus for faculty that includes addressing racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare.