Q & A with Marquette's OFFICE OF Institutional Diversity and Inclusion EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - William welburn


Why was the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion created and what is its role on campus?

Former Provost Madeline Wake created the office a decade and a half ago, acting on the recommendation of her diversity committee. We've gone through several iterations before Dan Myers was appointed Provost. Through his leadership, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion has been redefined and restructured with a renewed mission and sense of purpose.

I believe that the role of the office is to help guide the campus toward inclusive excellence. Damon Williams, an expert in strategic development of diversity initiatives, has suggested that for higher education inclusive excellence is the highest stage of development for a higher educational institution. This means that the campus fully embraces diversity, practices equity, and has achieved inclusion in all of its areas. This is also living our values as a Catholic Jesuit institution of higher learning, so it is no coincidence that we have this office at Marquette.

How can interested faculty partner with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion?

Long term, we want to do what we can to contribute to the demographic diversity of our campus, our students, faculty, staff and leadership. We also want to promote an environment of mutual understanding and respect where everyone not only feels a sense of belonging at Marquette but actually thrives here. We want to contribute to an environment that encourages learning about the social world beyond our campus. And so our near term goals really need to drive us toward these ideas.

With that in mind, near-term we continue to take practical steps toward becoming an Hispanic Serving Institution. My colleague, Jacki Black (Associate Director for Hispanic Initiatives), has led a planning effort in this area. On a practical level, she just brought Dr. Gina Garcia from the University of Pittsburgh back to campus for a second visit. Dr. Garcia is a national expert on becoming an Hispanic Serving Institution, and her visit helps us to think about what it will take to carry out our commitment. Our campus diversity plan and Beyond Boundaries have called for support for Race and Ethnic Studies and the majors and minors that will contribute to its development as well as a plan for cluster hiring of faculty. Thanks to the efforts of faculty, deans and the Provost, the program is growing and the university has attracted new faculty who will contribute to its growth. These are but two examples of the dreams that we've had that members of our community are bringing into reality.

What are some near-term and longer-term goals you hope to achieve through the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion?

The first person that I've ever known to have this role was a man by the name of Gregory Williams at the University of Iowa. He taught me that our role was to help others with their ideas. I maintain that role to this day.

Some things will be created by our office; however, I will always want to find ways to invest time, energy, and resources in good and innovative ideas from faculty and staff. A wonderful example of this is the work that Jacki Black has done with Professor Sonia Barnes to create learning opportunities for faculty and others in our community to understand why linguistic diversity is a really important issue. Dreaming together, they created the first of what we hope will be other events in this area.

We hope to do this kind of thing again and again. I have been amazed by the ideas and imagination across our community. As researcher Scott Page as stated, "diversity drives innovation." We want to carry that out on a regular basis, so we encourage faculty and staff to bring their ideas on how we can fulfill our mission as a university by reaching all who are a part of our community.