Celebrating the impact of collaboration and teamwork, West Virginia University Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Meshea L. Poore encouraged all Mountaineers to be intentional about continuing the important work of making WVU a safe, diverse and welcoming community for all during her annual State of Diversity address on Oct. 12.
Poore thanked President Gordon Gee for his steadfast leadership and for leaning into the Mountaineer values of service, curiosity, respect, accountability and appreciation. She also expressed gratitude for the engagement of other senior administrators, including Provost of Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed, college deans and Vice President for University Relations and Enrollment Management Sharon Martin for their work to improve recruitment and retention of a more diverse faculty and student body.
“One of the things I find to be very important about this work is that we have partners. You can’t do this by yourself,” Poore said. “When I first started, I told you all we would start and we would strengthen relationships, that we would make sure that it wasn’t just my office’s responsibility to do this work – that it was all of our responsibilities; that I would meet you where you were, whatever that looked like, and help you continue to grow in the space of diversity, equity and inclusion. We still have work to do, but we have also garnered a whole lot of partners on this journey. We’ve charted the course and we’re making progress.”
Poore made her remarks during WVU’s annual Diversity Week.
Poore discussed the work of the WVU DEI Council in helping academic areas develop discipline-specific diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and in developing partnerships and identifying best practices institution-wide.
“We recognize that we are stronger when we’re working together, not in silos. This campus needs to know that we are against anything that causes harm to a person from being able to work, live and be on this campus,” Poore said.
Poore encouraged people to self-report demographic information that can help the university set goals and track its progress on diversifying the student body and faculty. Providing that information when applying for enrollment or for employment is voluntary, she said, but can help the university identify and respond to where resources are needed.
Poore lifted up a number of initiatives from the past year as examples of successful collaboration.
· This year’s Diversity Week celebration is happening across all of WVU’s campuses, including events at WVU Potomac State College in Keyser and WVU Tech in Beckley.
· A video that presents a land acknowledgement of WVU’s location on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, released this week, was the collaboration of scholarship by Bonnie Brown and the WVU Native American Studies program, a suggestion from the College of Creative Arts DEI Committee and University Relations.
· WVU’s prevention education team is coordinating across campus to facilitate the University’s participation in the Culture of Respect effort to identify and address any gaps in the institution’s response to sex- and gender-based violence and harassment.
· The Division launched the DEI Classroom to provide additional training and educational opportunities to the campus.
· The Let’s Talk series of short videos exploring topics centered on helping members of the WVU community live, learn and work together with care and respect for each other provide weekly encouragement and food for thought. Poore said an expanded “Let’s Talk With…” series will premiere next week. The first Let’s Talk With… will feature a discussion with WVU Behavioral Health Therapist and BIPOC Specialist Felicia Hooper from the Carruth Center.
· University Relations developed and launched two new websites, one focused on inclusive campus resources, the other focused on mental health resources.
· ADA Coordinator Jill Hess is working with several campus entities to develop an ADA accessibility app that will help people navigate around campus.
“I am very proud of what this institution has done,” Poore said. “I am very proud of where I believe we will be heading. And I look forward to seeing everyone in this room, those virtual, those looking at the recording standing in unison as we come together as a “common unity” as Mountaineers – our community – and moving forward together with onward intentionality and resolve.
CONTACT: Sarah Lowther Hensley
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Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
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