The Professional Exempt Staff Association welcomed Kee Warner, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusiveness, and Anthony Cordova, director, Multicultural Office for Student Access, Inclusiveness, and Community, to its Oct. 21 meeting. The pair shared information on diversity, retention, and how PESA members can help by actively participating in diversity activities and engaging individually with students.
Warner presented an overview of the Diversity Strategic Plan, describing its origins and development. The plan was initiated in 2007, he said, and UCCS prioritized inclusiveness and diversity, actively striving to eliminate barriers created by social and cultural differences. The Diversity Strategic Plan establishes the university’s goal of offering educational opportunity to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, age, social class, and numerous other differences. Moreover, he said, diversity contributes to the education of all UCCS students.
He described the Diversity Foundations oversight group, which organizes priorities and resources, establishing specific tasks and projects to promote inclusiveness. The “BIG Idea” is one of this year’s projects, he said, in which the Building Inclusiveness Group composed of faculty, staff and students presents interactive workshops to create awareness of social inequity. Warner also talked about efforts the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Task Force has underway.
Cordova described how MOSAIC was created to organize efforts to engage all students in building campus inclusiveness, emphasizing personal contact with students. He encouraged PESA members to recognize their value as employers, role models, and formal mentors. Anyone with experience to share qualifies to mentor, he added.
“Nothing makes as much impact on a student as someone saying ‘I’ve been where you’re at,’ ” he told the group, and serving as a mentor, reaching out, is as much a source of personal satisfaction as it is a benefit to the university, he said. “I learned you only fail if you fail to ask for help,” Cordova said, “and I pass this message on to students I talk to. There are students struggling with class work, jobs, and family situations that a mentor can help.”
He went on to say that minority students are especially vulnerable to stress. Many are the first in their families to go to college and the families have no experience with a college environment. Some families even fail to support their student’s academic goals because they don’t understand the benefits of a higher education.
“A mentor can help these students succeed,” Cordova said to the PESA members. “You can be one of the university’s greatest resources. Creating a friendship and building the confidence of a minority student can make all the difference.”
Warner and Cordova urged the group to visit the diversity pages on the campus web site at www.uccs.edu/~diversity/.