News

The Beacon – 16th Edition – September 2021

Spotlighting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at JMU


 
The Beacon feature logo

SUMMARY: The Beacon celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion at JMU by spotlighting upcoming engaging opportunities, highlighting campus initiatives, and featuring individuals at the forefront of creating an inclusive community at JMU.


Heather-Coltman-feature.jpgThe Path that Demands Conviction
Guided by Openness and Compassion

We are at the beginning of a transformational new academic year, and I’m so pleased to welcome you to campus and to the 16th edition of The Beacon. The start of every year brings its own excitement, but I’m especially glad for the opportunity to be back in person and reconnect.

With a campus full of students, faculty and staff, I am reminded of the community we have created here at JMU. This institution is committed to creating an inclusive population where all of us can trust that we belong. We continue to show our allegiance to diversity, equity and inclusion as we build on the strong foundations that have been created by faculty, students and staff.

JMU administration is firmly committed to this ongoing work. Last year saw the launch of the Task Force on Racial Equity and the re-naming of three campus buildings; this year, the task force’s work continues in earnest, and we’ll re-dedicate those buildings later this month.

The university is striving to become more inclusive, and one way is through our first-ever campus-wide climate study, which we’ll conduct this fall. Climate studies are designed to assess both the actual and the perceived quality of interactions and practices at an institution, and the results will help determine the JMU of the future. A forty-member working group spent the past year developing this assessment and hearing the voices of everyone in our community is vital to create the type of institution we want JMU to be.

The path we have set for ourselves individually and collectively demands conviction guided by openness and compassion, and dialogue that is wide-ranging and respectful. I urge you all to participate in upcoming events like our Visiting Scholar series and presentations on Recognizing and Addressing Our Implicit Biases. Look to resources like The Beacon and the Academic Affairs Diversity website for ways to learn and do more. Please join me in this important work to support our institution and each other.

Heather Coltman
Provost and Senior Vice President For Academic Affairs


In this issue:

Broadening Your Horizons: Upcoming Events

Spirit. Life. Humanity
Dirron Allen ('00)
Associate Vice President of Student Life and Involvement

From Culture Shock to Exploration and Collaboration
Allizaeh Wood ('21)
President, Together Obtaining Resources for College Help – TORCH

At the Forefront: Initiatives Making a Difference

Task Force on Racial Equity Update

Welcoming New Faculty and Fellows


 

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Broadening Your Horizons: Upcoming Events

Art by John JenningsAfrofuturism book display in JMU Libraries

Explore the expansive umbrella of Black science/speculative/fantasy fiction by visiting JMU Libraries’ latest display on Afrofuturism and related genres. The display includes an array of books, movies, and music emerging from Afrofuturism, Africanfuturism, Afrosurrealism, and more. Art by John Jennings; used with his permission.

Displayed in Carrier Library through September
The online version will be available indefinitely


Learning Access through Universal Design Institute

Join this introductory Canvas-based course designed to support initial UDL course adaptation efforts and to introduce the next steps, such as making an accessible Canvas course site, using welcoming and inclusive language to build an UDL class climate, making accessible instructional media, and how students perceive about UDL to their learning. Questions contact Juhong Christie Liu, JMU Libraries or BJ Bryson, CHBS.

Course participation: LAUD site - with a Chrome or Firefox web browser, log in to JMU Canvas with DUO authentication, and click “Enroll in Course”.

Additional in-person learning sessions also provided. Register for in-person sessions.
Fridays, September 10th and October 8th, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
HBS 1003


Reconceptualizing Diverse Students in the Classroom and Strategies to Improve their Learning Experience

Through the stories and experiences of diverse students, this session will explore how context may impact student’s classroom experiences. Focus will be on establishing the strengths and positive attributes diverse students bring into the classroom often minimized and overlooked. Strategies to improve their learning experiences will be shared.

Presenters: Center for Multicultural Student Services, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, Fawn-Amber Montoya (Honors College), Oris T. Griffin (COE) and BJ Bryson (CHBS). Sponsored by DEI Programs in Honors College, COE & CHBS.

Friday, September 10th, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Virtual, pre-register to receive link.


Ole School Group logoThe Ole School Alumni Scholarship Group Corporate Recruitment Program

The OSASG leadership group will be on campus promoting its new recruitment program in early September. This program brings internships and employment opportunities from seven Fortune 200-500 level companies, to diverse students across campus. Everyone is invited to attend. Dates to follow. Learn more about the OSASG.


photo of Joshua PulosRecognizing and Addressing Our Implicit Biases

Implicit biases are hidden beliefs that everyone holds—judges, police officers, teachers—and it is imperative as faculty/staff at JMU that we address their impact upon our interactions and planning for and with our students or peers. This process of self-reflection and contemplation can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to advance practices in support of our colleagues and students. This presentation (a) will explore ways in which implicit bias seeps into the fabric of our everyday lives and (b) provide participants with practical strategies to address implicit bias through activities. Participants will leave with a better sense of self and actionable steps to improve their own practice when interacting with others differing from themselves.

Presented by Joshua Pulos (COE). Sponsored by DEI Programs in COE & CHBS

Pre-registration required.
Friday, September 24th, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.
HBS Room 5040


photo collage of four persons buildings named afterBuildings Rededication

Join us on the Quad for the rededication of Darcus Johnson Hall, Gabbin Hall and Harper Allen-Lee Hall.

Friday, September 24th
Tours starting at 3:00 p.m. rededication at 4:00 p.m.
The Quad


Photo of The High Kings performing on stageThe High Kings

One of world’s most popular Irish folk bands, The High Kings specialize in energetic and insightful performances that showcase the incredible versatility and multi-instrumentalist skills of the quartet members who play 13 instruments between them. Expect an evening of “swashbuckling, old-country fun that leaves your heart dancing jigs.” (Broadway World) Buy tickets now.

Saturday, September 25th, 8:00 p.m.
Forbes Center Concert Hall


poster for Furious Flower reading series with photos of poetsFurious Flower Facebook Live Reading Series

The Furious Flower Facebook Reading Series returns this semester.
Join us at www.facebook.com/furiousflower
 

Friday, October 1st, 2:00 p.m.: Erica Hunt
Friday, October 15th, 2:00 p.m.: Aurielle Marie
Friday, October 29th, 2:00 p.m.: Jennifer Bartell
Friday, November 12th: 12:00 p.m.: Kei Miller


photo of quartetAmerican Patchwork Quartet

On a mission to reclaim the immigrant soul of American Roots Music, American Patchwork Quartet (APQ) features Grammy-nominated vocalist Falu Shah, Grammy-winning guitarist/vocalist Clay Ross, three time Grammy-winning drummer Clarence Penn, and highly-acclaimed bassist Yasushi Nakamura. APQ reimagines timeless, centuries-old American folk songs that highlight America’s immigrant roots and strives to counter pervasive prejudices around the issues of race and immigration. Buy tickets now. 

Saturday, October 2nd, 8:00 p.m.
Forbes Center Concert Hall


photo of Scoby WilsonBending the Arc to Environmental, Climate, and Racial Justice:
The Role of Community Science

JMU’s Visiting Scholar, Dr. Sacoby Wilson, will present Bending the Arc to Environmental, Climate, and Racial Justice: The Role of Community Science. Dr. Wilson is the Director of the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH) Initiative with the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Health. CEEJH is focused on providing technical assistance to communities fighting against environmental injustice and environmental health disparities.

Tuesday, October 5, 7:00 p.m.
Via Zoom - Link not yet available


Counseling Center logoRecognizing Student Distress, Preventing Student Loss

Today’s students are experiencing many stressors outside the classroom that impact their academic work. This session will focus on recognizing when students are experience distress, strategies for assisting students and provide resources.

Presenters from the JMU Counseling Center. Sponsored by CHBS DEI.

Friday, October 8th, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Virtual, pre-register to receive link.


SNCC poster featuring Black leadersSNCC On-Line Screening and Q&A with Filmmaker

JMU’s Institute for Creative Inquiry (ICI) presents an on-line screening of the film SNCC followed by a Q&A with the photographer/filmmaker Danny Lyon. Lyon was hired in 1962 to make a photographic record of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and its efforts to break the back of Jim Crow. His recent film, SNCC, chronicles this history and documents Lyon’s enduring friendship with Congressman John Lewis. Questions, please contact David Ehrenpreis

Wednesday, October 13th, 7:00 p.m.


photo of Dorothy RobertsAfrican, African American, and Diaspora Studies (AAAD) 12th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference

The JMU AAAD Studies program invites proposals for its annual interdisciplinary conference with the theme Voices, Race, Modes of Advocacy, featuring keynote speaker, Dorothy Roberts (Fatal Invention, Killing the Black Body, Shattered Bonds) to be held virtually as a webinar series from Wednesday, February 16 to Saturday, February 19, 2022. Ranging across topics from scientific practice to social policy to cultural movements, the conference will bring together a group of scholars and archivists from a wide variety of overlapping and intersecting fields. Read more here.

Proposal due date: October 15th


Photo collage of the three musiciansThe 40th Annual Contemporary Music Festival featuring performances by Curtis Stewart, Amanda Gookin, and Redi Llupa

In Concert I, Grammy-nominated violinist Curtis Stewart will perform works from his new album, Of Power, a post-classical creation inspired by personal adversity and the #BLM movement. Grammy-nominated cellist Amanda Gookin will perform commissioned new multimedia works for solo cello that elevate stories of feminine empowerment as part of her Forward Music Project. Concerts II and III will feature Albanian pianist Redi Llupa performing sonatas of George Walker and JMU musicians. Buy tickets now.

Concert I: Monday, October 18 @ 8 pm
Concert II: Tuesday, October 19 @ 8 pm
Concert III: Wednesday, October 20 @ 8 pm
Forbes Center Concert Hall


poster for event with photos of panelistsWarming the Campus Climate

Join DEI university leaders from around the country for a discussion on recruitment and retention of BIPOC faculty and students. This virtual discussion is part of the Discussions on Diversity series sponsored by AAAD, LAXC, APIDA and The Office of the Provost.

Monday, October 25th, 4:00 p.m.
Join event @ https://zoom.us/my/jmucal


colorful abstract artExuberance: Dialogues in African-American Abstract Painting

This celebration of African American abstract painters from the 1950s to present day features artists Norman Lewis, Rico Gatson, Nanette Carter, Ronald Walton, Lisa Corinne Davis, Lamerol Gatewood, Erika Ranee, and Susan Zurbrigg, among others. The exhibition showcases cross-generational dialogues on race and identity as well as the dynamics of pattern, color, rhythm, and gesture. Co-curated by Susan Zurbrigg and Beth Hinderliter. Read the full story.

Opening Reception Tuesday, October 26th, 5:00-7:00 p.m.
October 26th – December 10th
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art – Duke Hall


The Yard - Commemorating Inter-Cultural Fraternities and Sororities

Fraternity and sorority plots have existed throughout college campuses for more than 50 years. The purpose of fraternity and sorority plots is to highlight the presence of fraternities and sororities on campus. Traditionally this culture has existed on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) for NPHC organizations, in recent years Predominately White Institutions (PWI) have also adopted this culture to create representation for culturally-based fraternities and sororities that exist on campus.

photo of lawn in front of SSC with "under contruction"JMU’s plot location in front of the Student Success Center, to be known as “The Yard”, will include fraternity and sorority plots that represent Black Greek letter organizations, Latinx fraternities and sororities, and Asian interest fraternities and sororities. Currently the Inter-Cultural Greek Council (ICGC) has a total of 13 organizations which have been on campus since 1971, all organizations have an emphasis on academic excellence, service, and brotherhood/sisterhood.

ICGC is hopeful that the plots will be complete and ready by Homecoming weekend. A ribbon cutting ceremony is tentatively planned for November 5th.

In Focus

Photo of Dirron AllenSpirit. Life. Humanity.
Dirron Allen ('00)
Associate Vice President of Student Life and Involvement

My name is Dirron Allen, “Spirit. Life. Humanity.”  This is the phrase that guides me. The Spirit guides the actions in my Life and those actions should uplift Humanity. I am a spouse and parent of four children. I work at JMU as an Associate Vice President of Student Life and Involvement. I provide support to four units: Student Life, Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices, University Unions and Office of Residence Life.

Coming back to JMU really aligned well with where I was with my career. I was seeking growth and new challenges. I had a positive experience during the interview process and engaged with knowledgeable and talented staff in Student Life and within the Division of Student Affairs. Dr. Miller also shared an inspiring vision for Student Affairs during my interview. After being offered the job, it did not take long for my spouse and I to commit and move our family to the valley.

I have been influenced a lot over the years. In more recent years my spirituality, as a Christian, I strive to be truthful, graceful, and express humility, daily. I am not perfect, in fact, I struggle many times. Family members, friends and mentors have also been influential on my various identities.

One of the more profound experiences happened over a decade ago. I was employed at another institution as a director of a department, my first department head experience. There was a student organization that supported white nationalist values. The organization decided to bring a white supremacist speaker to campus. I was asked by the institution to protect the First Amendment rights of this speaker. For that to occur, I would need to stand in front of the room and recite a scripted message to anyone in the audience who may have been heckling or preventing this individual from speaking. The speaker was clear on their message, Black people are inferior to the White race. Of course, there was some heckling and periodically I, as a Black man, had to stand in between the speaker and the audience (some who were Black and Brown students) and recite a message. At the end of the message, there was another statement. “If you are unable to comply, you will be escorted out of the room by law enforcement.” Unsurprisingly, our law enforcement was a Black police officer. The speaker finished speaking without a major visible incident, but the damage was done psychologically. I left that room, people, many of my white colleagues giving me high praise. I smiled of course, but it was unauthentic. I was frustrated and ashamed. I felt as if I betrayed our students, I was a sellout. The students needed me to walk away. I wish I had walked away. As a result of this experience, I reevaluated my values structure and my sense of self. I spent more time deliberating thinking about my Blackness and the world around me. It was also during this time I came back to Christ. I have a heightened awareness of self and I know how I will operate even in the grey.

The continued dehumanization of Black people is heartbreaking. While progress has been made, there is still a journey ahead of us. My hope for us, we remain committed to the following:  create spaces for marginalized voices to be effectively heard, advocate for equitable policies, donate money where it is needed most, volunteer in our neighborhoods when invited, protest, and engage with those who are different from ourselves. Each of us should strive to find our place in uplifting humanity.

I believe each of us are designed with these beautiful, inspiring, innate competencies. We should not be afraid to use our natural talents, strengths, or spiritual gifts. Lean into your abilities and share them with the world.


photo of Allizaeh Wood in graduation capFrom Culture Shock to Exploration and Collaboration
Allizaeh Wood ('21)
President, Together Obtaining Resources for College Help – TORCH

My name is Allizaeh and I grew up in Woodbridge VA. I just graduated with a BS in Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts (IDLS) with minors in Elementary Education and History. I am currently a Masters student in JMUs five-year Education program. When I graduate this spring my goal is to pursue a teaching career in an arts integrated elementary school. I came very close to becoming a visual arts educator, but I wanted to study how my arts background could translate into primary schooling. I went to high school through The Center for Fine and Performing Arts program (CFPA). CFPA greatly impacted the person I am today as it helped me finally find my passions and belonging in school; that experience has always motivated me to invest into the community I am in.

My awareness of my identities at JMU has been constantly evolving. I came here not fully understanding what a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) meant, and how much it could impact my experience. Coming from a diverse community, it was a real culture shock. Not only are the majority of students here white, but many of them come from privileged backgrounds where they have a network of family members that have been through this. I first found my community within the Latinx Student Alliance. I am mixed, white and Puerto Rican, and I had always felt more disconnected from the Latina side of myself. LSA welcomed me with open arms and I found my familia of students who identified with many of my experiences especially with being first generation.

I saw the gap of how my community within LSA was much different from my more privileged peers. I wanted to more deeply explore my identities and how other students experienced our campus, so taking the CMSS course HRD 123 helped me learn so much. That course allowed me to connect with my peers on a level that I didn’t know was achievable as we discussed dimensions of diversity within social class, sexuality and gender identity, and race. There was a general consensus among our group that being on JMUs campus can be difficult. Many BIPOC students can attest to the feeling of being paired with a peer/s who have no cultural awareness of their experience, and often say micro aggressions with the facade of ignorance. It can be difficult to find that sense of belonging when you are facing these interactions that don’t make you feel seen or accepted.

I have gone out of my way to find spaces that I feel accepted and valid in on this campus which is why I have become so passionate about TORCH. My first TORCH event was a faculty networking dinner where they provided a free meal to students during exams. I was so impressed and happy to be validated by staff in this way. That sparked a joy in me to keep being involved in TORCH and later join the executive board as the fall president. My goal for TORCH this year is to create a safe space for first generation and low-income students to feel like they belong at JMU, and provide students with the tools to succeed in college and beyond.

My experiences at JMU have definitely taught me the value of collaborating. In my group work here we have had such productive conversations, and in some courses we feel comfortable enough to open up about our experiences and allow others to understand us more deeply. This is only possible though when the classroom community is prioritized with an emphasis on seeing students as cultural assets to the conversation. Everyone deals with their own struggles but we all can relate through our shared experiences. That is why I see TORCH as so valuable to this campus because I have served with a CMSS org and I see there is often a disconnect between various groups and I believe that TORCH can act as an intersection to connect students all over campus with varied interests. Many people come here with a lack of awareness of the tools and resources that are available to us only if we look for them. My goal for this semester is to collaborate with lots of different CMSS organizations so that we can help connect students with opportunities and a community to learn and grow with.

My hope for the university is that we continue to do the work within DEI because it is the right thing to do and it's what the students who are actually affected by these issues have advocated for. I believe it is time for JMU to “Be the Change” and stand against the grain regarding the DEI training taking place. White fragility is at large and the university cannot abide by the very things they train us to spot and dismantle. The school needs to allow the students and staff who have spent months planning on how to teach these trainings continue as scheduled. I understand the media can be an intimidating tool, but to comply with social outcry after months of work against this shows that student voices are not being heard or valued.

At the Forefront: Initiatives Making a Difference

Speak up Dukes climate study graphicSpeak Up, Dukes!

JMU will soon be conducting a campus climate survey to hear from the students, staff and faculty that make up our university community and find out what you think about our current attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices. We’re calling this effort Speak Up, Dukes! because your feedback will drive the university’s planning for the future. Our goal is to have full participation from everyone on campus throughout the fall semester.

This assessment is vital as we strive to create a more inclusive campus with an environment characterized by openness, fairness and equality. Look for more information in your email, on the Speak Up Dukes website and around campus. We look forward to hearing from each of you!


Torch logo - gold hand with a purple logoTogether Obtaining Resources for College Help - TORCH

TORCH is a new organization on campus that stands for Together Obtaining Resources for College Help. TORCH supports first generation and low-income students (FGLI) by creating a welcoming and inclusive community. Additionally, TORCH maintains close relationships with staff to establish a network among faculty and students. TORCH will be planning activities and events this year that are financially, physically, and mentally accessible to all students. They hope to see new members come out to their events this year; TORCH is here to support you and connect you with the network and resources you need. Reach out directly torchjmu@gmail.com or follow on social media @torchjmu.


photo of ribbon cuttingCenter for Multicultural Students Services Relocation Celebration

photo of CMSS & SOGIE front doorCMSS is excited to be settling into their new home on the first floor of the Student Success Center (SSC). A DEI open house and ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new CMSS/SOGIE suite on August 31st. Stop by for a visit, all are welcome.


Photo of athletes with students and booksStudent-Athletes Deliver Book Drive Books to Local Schools

The JMU Athletics Diversity and Inclusion Council partnered with Harrisonburg City Public Schools earlier this year in an effort to promote diversity, inclusion and literacy within Harrisonburg City Public Schools. Three children’s books that address or promote inclusive environments were selected by the council for a book drive. On June 7th, 20 student-athletes from several sports delivered 634 books to local elementary schools. Read the full story.


Photo of students working with facultyDepartment of Computer Science’s Camp for Refugee Students

JMU's Computer Science Department (CS) and the Harrisonburg CWS Refugee Resettlement (CWS) teamed up to offer the third annual Computing Camp for local refugee students to increase students' access and familiarity to programming. During the week-long camp, CS professor Chris Johnson taught students coding with twoville.org – a site he created to help students learn programming concepts by creating 2D designs that can be brought to life. The students wrote code to create stickers, stencil for t-shirt designs, and had their final design cut into acrylic with the help of John Wild and the Universal Laser Systems VLS4.60 of the Engineering Department. Read the full story.


Soul of Black Men event posterThe Soul of Black Men

As part of their Let’s Talk Tuesday series, the Black Alumni Chapter hosted The Soul of Black Men. Since June had so many significant and impactful events for us culturally, the BAC reflected on Juneteenth's emancipation, Black Lives Matter, Father's Day affirmations, and Black Music Month celebrations.  The BAC wanted to highlight our male alumni on the perspective of black men in today's world and the challenges that they face with mental, emotional, and social wellbeing. Watch the recorded event or read a short bio of panelists on Instagram @jmubac.


photo of students participating in academyLatinx Leadership Academy

This summer JMU was proud to host the VALHEN (VA Latino Higher Education Network) Latinx Leadership Academy @ JMU. The academy returned for a second year at JMU and this year included an in-person family picnic for the participants and their families on campus in addition to the two day virtual workshop schedule. Virginia Latino/x high school participants reflected on their personal leadership strengths, were inspired by a variety of workshop facilitators and collaborated on a group project with their casa JMU counselors. Special thanks to the Furious Flower Poetry Center for sponsoring the poetry workshop and academy organizer Karina Kline-Gabel, CAL’s Assistant Dean for DEI.


photo of Jackie Walker participating in LLI classLifelong Learning Institute Celebrates 25 Years

The JMU Lifelong Learning Institute is a vibrant learning community of nearly 800 adults that is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2021. Created upon an open membership model in 1996, curiosity and a love of learning remain the only admission requirements. Hear firsthand from Jackie Walker, first Black JMU history professor, on satisfying your curiosity with LLI. Watch video.


photo of Lauren Hughes presenting at JMUSign Language Science Interpreter Headlines Keynote

At ISAT in July, Lauren Hughes, who serves as director of operations at Civic Access, a deaf, woman-owned social media enterprise, discussed the challenges of conveying technical research information to lay audiences. In her talk titled, “Access Allies – Promoting and Defending Equity in a Virtual Age,” Hughes discussed the importance and impact of people’s choices to make research content accessible. Topics included how COVID launched a major shift in access demands, different types of communication access and the meaning of “effective” communication access.


Let's Talk Tuesday event logoNational Minority Donor Awareness Month

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of National Minority Donor Awareness Month, the Black Alumni Chapter hosted a discussion on the importance of organ donation as part of their Let’s Talk Tuesday series. Co-hosted with United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), panelists shared their personal connections to organ donation and transplantation through their incredible life-saving stories. Watch the recorded panel discussion.

Task Force on Racial Equity Update

logo for the Task Force on Racial Equity

Learn more about the Task Force on Racial Equity in the latest update:

The Narrative Project: Creating a JMU Narrative on Race

Implementing Recommendations:

University DEI Personnel Org Chart

Glossary of Racial Equity Terms

Women and Minority Owned Business Connection

For a complete listing of the working groups and membership, please visit the Task Force on Racial Equity page.

To submit an idea for a recommendation email: racialequitytaskforce@jmu.edu

Welcoming New Faculty and Fellows

College of Arts and Letters Celebrates Final Cohort Hires

collage of photos of new cohort faculty

(Clockwise from Bottom Left) Tiffany González, Deborwah Faulk, Graciela Perez, Tatiana Benjamin, Rachel Torres, Cyril Uy and Ja'La Wourman have join six departments in the College of Arts and Letters as part of the university's first "cohort hire."

With the addition of scholars Tiffany González and Ja’La Wourman, the College of Arts and Letters cohort hire–designed to expand JMU teaching and research expertise in racial and social justice, minority cultures and critical race studies–is finalized, just four months after applications for the historic hire opened. This hiring initiative was led by Robert D. Aguirre, dean of the college and a professor of English, to elevate curricular, intellectual and faculty diversity across the humanities and social sciences, as well as to bring in scholars with a built-in intellectual and collegial network.


Meet our 2021/22 Preparing Future Faculty Fellows

The Office of the Associate Provost for Diversity and Executive Director for Faculty Access and Inclusion announces our 2021/22 Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) fellows. In partnership with Academic Affairs and Access and Enrollment Management, JMU recruits and hosts underrepresented dissertation-year fellows at our academic departments.

The program promotes diversity, access and classroom inclusivity as core objectives while providing opportunities for our PFF fellows to gain experiences that prepare them for the academy. Learn more here.

photo of Benita DixBenita Dix from Morgan State University returns to complete for her final year as PFF. At JMU, Benita has had the opportunity to teach courses that include the Introduction to Africana Studies (General Education Cluster 4 AFST 200) and a History Honors class titled African American Women’s History (HIST 150H). Benita Dix’s dissertation research is titled “What Say Ye, Sister? Centering Black Women’s Voices in Family Planning During the Age of the Moynihan Report.”

photo of Ben GuerreroBen Guerrero arrives at JMU from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.  Prior to his doctoral studies, Ben studied at the Berklee College of Music and New York University. The JMU School of Music will be Ben Guerrero’s host for the 2021/22 academic year. Ben Guerrero will be teaching MUS 150 Music Technology and co-teaching MUED 305 and MUED 306 Percussion Techniques.

photo of Mariam Jerotich-KilomoMariam Jerotich Kilimo joins the JMU Department of Anthropology/Sociology for the 2021/22 academic year. Currently completing her doctoral work at Emory University in Atlanta, GA., Mariam’s education commenced at Dartmouth College for her undergraduate work and an MA at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. At JMU, she will also participate in AAAD Center programing as she works on her dissertation.

photo of Richard RobinetRichard Robinet comes to JMU from the Geology and Geophysics department at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. With research interest in stratigraphy, geochemistry and marine geology. Dr. Steve Leslie, JMU Department of Geology & Environmental Sciences Unit Head, will work with Richard as he teaches two Physical Geology Labs courses (Geol 110L) and works on his dissertation research on the micropaleontology.


Announcing the AAAD Studies Center and JMU Libraries 2021-2022 Fellowships

photo collage of three fellowsThe AAAD Studies Center and JMU Libraries have partnered to establish three AAAD Studies Fellowships for scholars from the Global South in the following areas: Decolonial Studies, Digital Humanities/Education Technology, and Library and Information. The 2021-2022 cohort includes Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang, Academic Director of the School for International Training, University of Ghana; Mshai Mwangola, The Orature Collective, Nairobi, Kenya; and Jane Mutheu Mutune, The Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies, University of Nairobi.


We can—and must—be a beacon for our society and the world in which we model what it means to be a community that values civil discourse and debate based on facts, reason, evidence and education.

President Alger
January 8th, 2021


The Beacon has been created by the Office of Access & Inclusion to share the good work of academic and administrative departments, students, affinity groups and more in supporting diversity, equity and inclusion at JMU.

Submit an event for upcoming editions.