In this issue devoted to the annual Teaching and Learning Conference, Provost and Executive Vice President Steve Everett, D.M.A., discusses the University's approach to diversity and understanding—and how our students benefit from it.
Adelphi’s annual Teaching and Learning Conference, held this year on January 30, explored the most fundamental questions facing the University. What should Adelphi be teaching its students, and what is the best way to help students learn?
For some answers to those questions, we talked with Steve Everett, D.M.A., who, as Adelphi’s provost and executive vice president, oversees academic issues at the University.
Dr. Everett, you arrived at Adelphi just last summer. What have you learned about the University since then?
I recognized early in my career that it is important for universities to identify their core values. When I came to Adelphi, I naturally set out to discover ours. I kept running into faculty members who have been focusing on diversity and patterns of inclusion, studying ways to create equitable systems that ensure that every student is treated fairly and given the same learning opportunities. I must have gotten 50 emails telling me about different research projects in that area, so I became convinced that a commitment to diversity and equity is a core value of our community.
“Equity Beyond Access” was the topic of this year’s Teaching and Learning Conference. Why is equity such an important topic?
One reason is that our student body is becoming increasingly diverse. We have an obligation to provide equal opportunity and a welcoming environment for everyone on campus.
But there’s another reason. We are getting to a world of cultural difference, where all of society’s work requires us to engage with people from various cultures and with different cultural attitudes. We all need to learn to navigate difference and to develop a deep understanding and appreciation of individual and social differences.
If you have ever studied abroad, you realize what a powerful experience it is to find yourself in an environment where everything is different. It makes you aware that your reality is only one reality, which can lead you to value that difference.
Life on a diverse campus can replicate this experience in a way, giving students the chance to work with others from different backgrounds and cultures as well as those with different gender identities and learning styles. It is one of the most important lessons we’re giving our students—helping them learn to deal with difference. It is an ability that can help students sustain successful careers over a lifetime.
In your remarks at the conference, you also talked about two other essential qualities that Adelphi strives to develop in students. What are they?
Innovation is the second quality we hope to inspire. It has a direct connection to diversity, as engaging difference can drive creativity.
Innovation is not only the ability to discover or create something new. It can also be defined as a way to create new meaning. And in our time of unprecedented societal and technological change, innovation is also about staying relevant. The ability to adapt and cultivate resilience is an increasingly important attribute for successful careers.
Integration is the third value, and by that I mean not only the ability to put things together and make new connections, but to find new ways in which traditional knowledge carries new meaning in our lives. Our growing emphasis on interdisciplinary study—finding the intersections between the humanities, science, cultural and cognitive studies, design thinking, and artistic expression—is based on this belief in the importance of integration. If the 20th century was the century of specialization, the 21st century is more about increasing integration.
What is the ultimate purpose of an Adelphi education? What kind of person should an Adelphi graduate be?
At Adelphi, we are committed to fostering a transformative learning environment that prepares our students to be insightful critical thinkers, innovative practitioners, involved community members and leading professionals in their field.
It is important to have these abilities, but just as important is the need to use them creatively and ethically. Creativity and ethics are the real differentiators today. The products of creativity are all around us, but we believe that creativity must be in the service of societal improvement. This belief is at the heart of our core institutional values.
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