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At PA, Many Lead Diversity Program

Although some colleges have one individual in charge of ensuring diversity, Phillips Academy divides the role of the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) among several individuals. But the difference between the systems for high schools and colleges may not be bad, said Katrina Wade-Golden, a senior researcher at the University of Michigan’s Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, because of the disparity in the schools’ dynamics. Wade-Golden conducted research with Damon Williams, Assistant Vice Provost for Multicultural and International Affairs at the University of Connecticut, on the role and effectiveness of CDO’s. Williams and Wade-Golden researched the privileges CDO’s require to perform their jobs effectively and released their findings in a report titled “The Chief Diversity Officer: A Primer for College and University Presidents” through the American Council on Education’s Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equality. The report said that CDO’s should report to the institutes’ presidents or chief academic officers, work closely with other departments and maintain sufficient jurisdiction and resources to determine diversity goals. Because of its comprehensive approach to maintaining a diverse campus, Phillips Academy is “more advanced than a lot of high schools nationally,” Wade-Golden said. The bureaucratic hierarchy of the typical high school, often consisting of only a principal, an assistant principal and counselors, is not conducive to the work of a chief diversity officer, Wade-Golden pointed out. High schools also tend to be more sensitive to the needs of individual students, whereas colleges and universities are more monolithic institutions, she said. Though having a key decision-maker would not be a bad system in high schools, said Wade-Golden, every school should ideally have at least a “diversity team” to “make sure [the school’s] commitment to diversity is actualized.” Dean of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) Linda Carter Griffith said that a solitary CDO might become a “marginalized position,” so Phillips Academy’s approach to community-building is intentionally interdepartmental. “Everybody has to be involved,” Griffith said. PA’s CAMD Office performs many of the functions that a CDO at a college might. Griffith said that Phillips Academy tries to educate its students by introducing them to varied perspectives and experiences. It is the school’s “responsibility to allow people to remain who they are as people,” Griffith said. Programs such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the PACE Seminar promote understanding by showing multiple points of view. “We’re at the multicultural phase, which includes…cross-cultural communication,” said Griffith. According to Griffith, “diversity is not just numbers. [It incorporates] awareness in terms of cultural competence.” Susan Mantilla-Goin is the Director of Student of Color Recruitment. Her job is “to try to make sure [the school is] taking into account cultural differences” in the admissions process. Mantilla-Goin said that she is “on the road a lot” to track down schools that will provide diverse students to Andover. “[CAMD] has its hand in the hiring piece and the admissions piece,” she said, but she likes that, ultimately, there are “different people doing different pieces” to create a heterogeneous community. Griffith and her office also work with other departments to ensure diversity in recruitment. CAMD interviews all potential faculty members before the school hires them to make sure that they are primed to work in and contribute to Andover’s diverse community. But CAMD is not the primary front for the admission of diverse students or the hiring of a diverse faculty. CAMD was originally created, explained Griffith, as a support structure, not as a recruitment center. Recruitment is important, she said, but high schools should also focus on building community with recruited individuals, an aspect that CAMD emphasizes. To Mantilla-Goin, the best way to ensure a diverse and accepting community is through interdepartmental collaboration. She said she believes that some aspects of the process should be separated somewhat from others. Wade-Golden, who researched educational benefits of diversity, has found that students become more “empathetic to people who are different” when they are “exposed to diverse others in classes and informal programs…[they] learn to appreciate different perspectives,” said Wade-Golden. Schools should consider “what students gain from interacting with each other in an informal way [at events and activities]…how they adapt their perspective-taking skills,” said Wade-Golden. Phillips Academy addresses this issue by emphasizing the recruitment of faculty and students from different backgrounds and incorporating diversity programming into the work of multiple offices. According to Mantilla-Goin, Associate Dean of Students Carlos Hoyt works on “growing the personal side” of students. Hoyt coordinates the Personal and Community Education (PACE) seminar. Among other topics, Lowers discuss issues of diversity such as race and sexuality in the weekly seminar. Many people learned the Golden Rule, treat others as you wish to be treated, when they were younger. But the goal of a heterogeneous community, Griffith said, is to realize the Platinum Rule: treat others the way they want to be treated.