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In light of continuing national and local conversations about issues related to diversity, access and inclusion, I have been working with other leaders across the University to establish a new Task Force on Inclusion for this academic year. At a time when our society seems more divided than at any time in recent memory, the purpose of the Task Force is to help facilitate thoughtful dialogue, analysis and reflection across the entire campus regarding issues of inclusion (in all aspects, including issues such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disabilities, etc.) both in and outside the classroom. The Task Force will also be asked to review evolving best practices nationally on this front.

The Task Force will coordinate closely with the existing Diversity Councils, which represent and serve the entire University, as well as with other relevant resources on campus such as the Center for Faculty Innovation and D.E.E.P. Impact (among many others). We anticipate that the Task Force will include working groups in several areas, including: Classroom Inclusivity; Campus Climate (with one group focused on students, and another on faculty/staff); and History and Context at JMU. Other working groups may evolve as the Task Force begins its work, and its membership may be supplemented as needed to address the topics at hand.

The Task Force is intended to help facilitate discussion and sharing of ideas throughout the university; it is by no means an exhaustive list of those on our campus and in our community who have insights to add to the ongoing conversation around inclusion. Our expectation is that this task force will generate productive dialogue on campus and will encourage all who are interested in these issues to participate.

The following individuals have been identified to date to provide leadership for the Task Force:

Task Force co-chairs:

  • Sonya Baker, Associate Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts
  • Jennifer Phillips, Associate Athletics Director for Compliance

Working Group, Classroom Inclusivity, co-chairs: (This group will focus on issues and dynamics in classroom settings.)

  • Kyle Gipson, Associate Professor, Engineering
  • Cara Meixner, Executive Director, Center for Faculty Innovation

Members:

  • Pia Antolic-Piper, Department of Philosophy and Religion
  • Alexander Gabbin, College of Business
  • Mary Tam, Learning Centers
  • Stefanie Warlick, Libraries and Educational Technologies
  • Linette Watkins, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Students Representatives to be determined

Working Group, Campus Climate/Students, co-chairs: (This group will focus on campus climate outside the classroom for students.)

  • Delo Blough, Associate Executive Director for Center for Global Engagement
  • Marsha Mays-Bernard, Associate Vice President for Wellness, Orientation, and Multicultural Engagement

Members:

  • Tiffany Brutus, Athletics
  • Kathleen Campbell, Office of Residence Life
  • Karina Kline-Gabel, Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • Amanda Lathan, Admissions
  • Adam Lindberg, Fraternity and Sorority Life
  • Chervon Moore, Center for Multicultural Student Services
  • Valarie Schoolcraft, Office of Disability Services
  • Renee Staton, Department of Graduate Psychology
  • Sarah Sunde, Orientation
  • Students Representatives to be determined

Working Group, Campus Climate, Employment Context, co-chairs: (This group will focus on campus climate outside the classroom for faculty and staff.)

  • Andreas Broscheid, Center for Faculty Innovation
  • Kristin Gibson, Associate Director for UREC Services

Members:

  • Rob Alexander, Associate Professor, Political Science
  • Pete Johnson, Athletics
  • Heather Kirkvold McLeod, Department of Engineering
  • Smita Mathur, Department of Early, Elementary, and Reading Education
  • Peter Nassetta, Campus Catholic Ministry
  • Yasmeen Shorish, Libraries and Educational Technologies
  • Felix Wang, Center for Global Engagement

Working Group, History and Context at JMU, co-chairs: (This group will focus on the history and context at JMU, including research and analysis of the names and other forms of recognition related to past historical figures at JMU buildings and facilities.)

  • Eric Fife, Professor, Director of the School of Communication Studies
  • David Owusu-Ansah, Professor of History and Special Assistant to the President for Faculty, Office of Access and Inclusion

Members:

  • Abe Goldberg, James Madison Center for Civic Engagement
  • Yvonne Harris, Office of Research and Scholarship
  • Weston Hatfield, Development
  • Jack Knight, University Legal Services
  • Kate Morris, Libraries and Educational Technologies
  • Meg Mulrooney, Department of History
  • Steve Reich, Department of History
  • Students Representatives to be determined

Administrative Liaisons:

  • Mike Davis, Executive Advisor to the President
  • Art Dean, Executive Director for Access and Inclusion

Other members of the Task Force and working groups will be identified as soon as possible, and a complete list will be made available on the JMU website. We will share additional information about the Task Force as it gets underway. These issues are constantly evolving nationally and on campus, and we need to ensure that our campus community provides many different types of outlets for meaningful discussion and learning on these issues.

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