Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Community Partners,
Welcome to the Stephen F. Austin State University Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It is an honor and privilege to serve the campus community as the inaugural chief diversity officer. Our goal is simple –to establish an environment where diversity is natural and business as usual. It's not forced or meant to cause resentment. It will be a bridge to oneness and fairness, not a bridge to polarization. We all live together—yet we all experience life so differently.
It is always a great opportunity to see life from a new perspective— and experience a whole new world we didn't see before.
As an institution, we will lead by example for unity from all levels—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community. To champion the meaning of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the ODEI has implemented a few strategic adjustments to start the conversation of significant change. The office has to understand "where we are" to know "where we need to go"— so we have launched a campus-wide assessment and planning process. The process will include a Campus Climate Survey for faculty, staff, and students in collaboration with Hanover Research. The purpose of the survey is to help us create an inclusive and equitable campus climate.
A Campus Climate Steering Committee will be created to devise four different working groups to develop specific and actionable recommendations that align with SFA’s Envisioned Strategic Plan for our Diversity Strategic Plan. We have invited members from every college/department and students on campus to join in the Campus Climate Steering Committee. One goal of this committee will be to implement a process to seek and recruit faculty and staff that complement all student demographics. We are in the beginning stages of this endeavor and will be transparent with its progress.
In addition, we are launching our campus-wide Listen, Understand, and Act initiative. Throughout the year, we will facilitate listening sessions for faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the community to identify initiatives and group conversations that will enhance our Lumberjack experience by identifying obstacles and opportunities.
As our nation becomes more diverse, institutions of higher learning must reflect this diversity. Diversity is an action, inclusivity is cultural, and belonging is a feeling. As your chief diversity officer, this is the first step we need, but it starts with acknowledging that some change is necessary. Significant work has been done so far; however, much more is to come! With these promising efforts in full force, it is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the new website for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at SFA. This space will serve as an informational tool while also providing insight into ODEI's future on this campus.
Michara DeLaney-Fields, Ph.D.
Chief Diversity Officer