TUSCALOOSA, AL - After a nationwide search that began in the fall of 2016, the University of Alabama will, on August 1, welcome Dr. G. Christine Taylor from Purdue University into the inaugural position: Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The new position on campus is intended to have a heavy involvement with students and administration and will mitigate issues or questions that arise from differences in diversity and culture. “Our goal in creating this leadership position is to enhance the engagement, support, and well-being for everyone on campus,” President Stuart Bell said when the search was originally announced.
While this position has been more popular among Northern schools, Southern schools have come to recognize the definite need for faculty members whose sole role is to promote inclusion among the student body. With the University of Alabama’s growth in students, faculty and staff, it reached its new record enrollment of nearly 38,000 in the fall of 2016, with 53 percent of students attending from out-of-state. However, according to the University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, about 77 percent of enrolled are white and only about 23 percent enrolled identify as minorities.
This is an undeniable imbalance that causes disruption among the student body. Our campus, like most, has had controversies. It has had protests. It has had hate. We at UA need to commit to establishing a stronger, more inclusive community. This position is a step toward pacifying dissension among students and working toward inclusion.
It is imperative for every person on any college campus to have a voice. That voice can be made heard by those in positions of power. Dr. Taylor now holds that power. She has the ability to make the changes necessary for students, faculty and staff to feel confident, protected and welcomed, as they always should.
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