New Social Justice Center director to focus on Emerson360 Climate Survey

Samantha+Ivery+joined+the+Social+Justice+Center+as+the+Director+of+Diversity+and+Equity+Initiatives+in+September.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Rebel+Roberts.+

Samantha Ivery joined the Social Justice Center as the Director of Diversity and Equity Initiatives in September. Photo Courtesy of Rebel Roberts.

By Hanna Marchesseault

Samantha Ivery joined the Social Justice Center this past September as the new Director of Diversity and Equity Initiatives.  

The Social Justice Center left this position vacant after the former director, Robert Amelio, retired in July.

Once Ivery filled the position, Vice President for Equity and Social Justice Sylvia Spears changed the job title from Director of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence to Director of Diversity and Equity Initiatives. Spears changed the title to reflect the office’s name change from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to the Social Justice Center.

“Samantha’s work includes the work of the old position around diversity and inclusion, but also equity and social justice,” Spears said. “The title and scope of work should be in line with what the person in the position wants to do.”

The director will help coordinate a new version of the Emerson360 Community Climate Survey, which they will release within the next few weeks. The survey gathers information from students to better understand what they need to do to create a more inclusive environment. In the past, the survey focused solely on faculty and staff. However, Ivery said this survey will focus only on students.

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The survey will provide the Social Justice Center insight on what students think the school does well and what needs it needs to improve. While the Social Justice Center can access surveys from 2014 and 2017, Spears and Ivery hope the new climate survey provides them with a more specific information.

Ivery said she believes people often avoid discussing topics regarding racism, sexism, and beyond, and she wants to open dialogue about issues around bias that present themselves on the campus.

“This work isn’t a final exam … I want to know that we’re learning from our mistakes and we’re going to keep improving,” Ivery said. “We have to be willing to look at ourselves, in every direction, top to bottom.”

Ivery said her position handles a wide scope of responsibilities, and she does not always work directly with students. Within the Social Justice Center, Ivery said she will create diversity and equity programs designed to educate people within the campus community on inclusion and diversification. Along with this, she said she works to find resolutions for conflicts that come through bias reports.

Before coming to Emerson, Ivery worked as a director for Bennington College in Projects for Campus Equity and Inclusion. She also worked for Dartmouth College in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership as assistant dean and in the Center for Women and Gender as interim director.

“I cut my teeth doing social justice work at Dartmouth,” Ivery said. “Half of my work was in student advocacy, teaching cultural resilience, and how things should work in higher education.”

At both Dartmouth and Bennington, Ivery said she wanted to teach students to dream big, especially when she recognized their high schools did not support them in that way. Ivery realized no one taught many young adults leadership skills, and she said she wanted to empower them to lead strong college lives.

Ivery earned a masters in counseling and student affairs from Western Kentucky University in 2001. She worked in social justice education for the past 13 years on college campuses. Within this work, she focused on student advocacy and providing support services to individuals who need it on campus.

Ivery is also completing a doctorate in higher education at Indiana University.

“I ask a lot of questions, which led me to getting my Ph.D.,” Ivery said. “For my dissertation, I’m trying to understand how young black women respond to racism and sexism on a college campus.”

Spears has known Ivery for ten years after meeting at Dartmouth, and reached out to her when the office left the position vacant this past summer.

“Samantha brings an air of truth-telling to her work, along with a great depth of experience,” Spears said. “She has the ability to look at organizations through an equity and social justice lens and recognize what allows them to thrive.”

Spears is hopeful for Ivery’s future at the Social Justice Center.

“Emerson is not like any environment,” Spears said. “Samantha has a vibrancy and curiosity about human behavior that we need here.”