New SJC position to handle faculty diversity training

Vice+President+for+the+Social+Justice+Center+Sylvia+Spears+formed+a+research+group+to+find+data+on+representation+of+different+demographics+at+the+college.+Photo%3A+Beacon+Archives

Photo: Evan Blaise Walsh

Vice President for the Social Justice Center Sylvia Spears formed a research group to find data on representation of different demographics at the college. Photo: Beacon Archives

By Parker Purifoy, Emerson '21

The Social Justice Center and Academic Affairs are recruiting applicants for a new position aimed at helping faculty create a more inclusive classroom environment.

The associate director for faculty development and diversity will be responsible for designing workshops and providing support and consultation for any individual faculty members. They will hold workshops on teaching techniques and work with faculty ambassadors from the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, which assists faculty with putting together syllabuses. 

This new associate director will report directly to SJC Vice President Sylvia Spears and Assistant Vice President for Faculty Affairs Carol Parker.

Spears said that with about 400 faculty members, it’s hard for the SJC to keep up with managing diversity training in addition to their work with the rest of the Emerson population. She also said it is crucial to have someone who can focus on long-term and short-term goals.

“I think it’s really important to have someone … who can be thinking strategically instead of reactively. So much of what’s happened has been in reaction,” Spears said. “Emerson has a reputation for doing things in a way that’s innovative and cutting edge. This is an area where we can do that as well.”

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The search committee for the new position consists of faculty, staff from Academic Affairs and the SJC, and students. Julio Villegas, press correspondent for Protesting Oppression With Educational Reform, said it is important to have a student voice on the committee.

“To have POWER senators there, we feel it’s going to lend more transparency to the process. I feel that this search could not have necessarily happened if not for the walk-out, if not for the petition,” Villegas said. “To initiate something inspired by the protest but to not have a member of POWER would be kind of nonsensical. You need to be hiring people with student input.”

Spears said the college started considering a position such as this in 2015, when student protesters requested diversity and inclusion training for faculty.

“Students made the need known and clear. Sometimes it takes a little student voice to move things in a faster trajectory than what the administration would do,” Spears said.