Former diversity office switches names for clarity

by Devin Whatley, Staff Writer

The former Office of Faculty Equity, Diversity and Inclusion has rebranded its name to the Division of Diversity and Innovation — a move which reflects the department’s service over the past few years to not just faculty, but also students and staff.

Chief Diversity Officer J. Luke Wood said the reason for changing the name was to better explain the functions such as providing resources and initiatives to promote diversity, inclusion and equity to faculty, staff and students on campus. The addition of the word “innovation” is new to him.

“We don’t believe that a campus can be excellent and innovative without promoting diversity and inclusion,” said Wood.

He also said having a division dedicated to diversity and innovation is more important now than it has ever been before.

“With the political tensions that are taking place in our country, having a division that is dedicated and set aside to help bring people together, I don’t know what could be more important,” said Wood.

One example of this is the department’s  establishment of diversity liaisons amongst faculty featuring an inclusion council to implement inclusion and equity across all of the colleges on campus.

The office  also manages student identity centers such as the Black Resource Center, Women’s Resource Center, Pride Center and others. They advocate for a positive environment on campus by using various student center meetings to discuss values of tolerance, acceptance and belonging.

Associate Chief Diversity Officer for Student Engagement Jessica Nare said the academic success centers provide many opportunities for students to be able to access a variety of campus resources.

“Having a space where these resource centers are housed creates opportunities for collaboration, partnership and connects students to faculty and staff who are interested in these issues and do work on these topics,” said Nare.

The department creates programs and connections on campus such as the kick-off event for San Diego State’s  strategic planning and employee resource groups.

Another duty includes overseeing and fostering an environment where faculty and staff members feel at home and are able to succeed. They created the Professors of Equity in Education, a group of professors who provide development and learning skills to faculty and staff about how to promote an environment of diversity and inclusion in the classroom.

Associate Chief Diversity Officer for Faculty Success Jennifer Imazeki said the purpose of the team is to promote an environment of acceptance and inclusion amongst faculty and staff members.

“The team was created in order to provide professional learning and development to all faculty and staff members,” Imazeki said. “Their job is to go to various academic departments around campus to train and talk to faculty and staff about microaggressions, implicit bias and various techniques to encourage and promote diversity throughout campus and in the classroom.”

Nare believes the rebranding will be another way for the university to support student success and inclusion on campus.

“Our goal is to make people feel a sense of belonging on campus, that they are able to be connected to a positive network and excel academically,” said Nare. “Our student resource centers are critical in providing that positive support.” 

Looking towards the future, Wood believes the Division for Diversity and Innovation will be a great resource.

“Recognizing diversity within our institutions is important to being a successful institution,” he said. “We are actively working to create an environment where SDSU is a home for all people, and it is an essential shift in experience and mindset for everyone.”