Congratulations to you on your appointment to the position of provost and executive vice president. In your new role, what are your diversity, equity and inclusion goals for the next five years? What would you like to achieve in the 2021–2022 academic year?
Thank you. It is an honor to be able to address our community on such an important topic. It is critical over the coming years that we become a more diverse and inclusive community, both to build a more resilient institution and out of a sense of justice.
This starts with improving the diversity of our faculty, who are the drivers of our institutional culture. Over the past several years, we have seen significant improvements in efforts to diversify the faculty through faculty hiring. We have failed, however, to retain faculty of color to the same extent. Over the course of this year, I will work with the deans and the faculty to develop a clear and integrated path to retain faculty of color. The fruits of this work will be measured over years.
This, in turn, will help to better support students of color and improve our retention of Black and Hispanic students. We must address the current gaps in the retention rates between Black and Hispanic students and white students to give true meaning to our commitment to student success and to diversity, equity and inclusion.
What do you see as being your greatest challenges to achieving those goals and how will you address those challenges?
The most ambitious goals are those that are achieved through the collective action of our community members. We have seen improvements in diversity in faculty hiring as a result of the work of each individual serving on a search committee. We see students succeed at Adelphi as a result of their experiences with their individual faculty, classmates, advisers and the many support staff members across campus. To achieve our goals, we must, then, rally the whole community. This starts by articulating a clear vision, establishing measures to see where progress is being made, and by recognizing and acknowledging the work of those responsible for success as it occurs.
What role will the Office of the Provost play in the dismantling of systemic racism?
The provost’s office must be disciplined in proactively seeking and identifying disparate outcomes across campus. Such outcomes may occur in retention, funding allocations, course grades, course evaluation results and peer review, among many others. The provost’s office will confront each area with honesty and integrity and seek to engage our community in recognizing such disparities so that we may together dismantle racist power structures.
What are the lessons learned from our response to the COVID-19 pandemic that will best serve our University moving forward?
There are many lessons to reflect upon, and I will choose one that I’ve been thinking a great deal about as we approach the fall semester. As the University shifted to remote instruction in the Spring 2020 semester and continued with significant online teaching and learning in the 2020–2021 academic year, we saw the tremendous importance of being intentional about student engagement in our pedagogy with an emphasis on active learning and chunking cognitive load. As we are returning to the classrooms, I hope that this intentionality in engaging students will stay with us. If so, we will be a home for ever more innovative and transformational teaching that supports a diverse range of learners and deepens all students’ engagement with the Adelphi experience.
What can we do as a university to best prepare our students to be successful in their lives and careers? How may we best support our faculty?
Faculty engagement is the most important prerequisite for student success. Our faculty at Adelphi are amazing and passionate in their care for our students. To the extent that we fully engage our faculty in positive ways, their teaching and mentorship will prepare our students to succeed in their next and future endeavors. Students will have access to a variety of role models and mentors from different backgrounds. As a result, they will come to envision themselves free from previous preconceptions and move forward with greater agency.
In his welcome video to new students this fall, Adelphi Provost Chris Storm cited the many support services Adelphi offers–from academic advising and tutoring to career development and healthcare. “At Adelphi, you will actually get to know your professors from day one,” he said, noting our small class size.