New Inclusivity Initiative Prompts Reorganization of Offices

Drew Kaplan '20, Editor-in-Chief

The Landis Collective has been renamed the Office of Equity & Inclusivity as part of an effort by Dickinson College to improve inclusivity on campus.

In an email sent to students and faculty on Aug. 12, President Margee Ensign announced that the change is intended to promote “our institutional emphasis on building a more inclusive Dickinson community.” The center will be run by Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Inclusivity Brenda Bretz, and consists of the Women’s & Gender Resource Center, Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity, Office of LGBTQ Services, Center for Spirituality & Social Justice and Asbell Centerfor Jewish Life.

In an email, Ensign expanded that the thought process behind this change was identified as part of the Strategic Framework, which was made public to the Dickinson community in the Fall 2018 semester. “By bringing the offices that have the expertise and experience to work directly with our Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Inclusivity,” Ensign said, “we are both signalling the importance of our commitment to inclusivity and indicating that the programming/training/support is for the entire community.”

Bretz, who has been at the college since 1982, was promoted to her current position in 2017. She previously served as Senior Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. In an email, she stated that this change was worked out “via the President’s Commission on Inclusivity,” and that she is “very excited about this work” in inclusivity, which she has worked in since her promotion.

Ensign explained that this change was not meant to address any inadequacy in the old system. Rather, the change was inspired by “a vision to expand the programming to include additional opportunities for faculty and staff, as well as programming that will allow us to bring faculty, staff and students together for mutual learning and community-building.” She continued that each center within the Office of Equity & Inclusivity has a separate leader, all of whom report to the Vice President for Student Life.

“In July 2018, upon the arrival of [Vice President of Student Life] George Stroud, there was a reorganization to have all directors report to a single Executive Director, [Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Resource Center] Donna Bickford, to enhance coordination.”

Ensign noted that the offices and centers within the new office have not changed purpose. “They work well together,” Ensign said, “there was no need to separate them or to change that organization structure at this time. By having them report to the VP of Institutional Effectiveness and Inclusivity, we are signalling that this is a campus-wide initiative that is a priority for all of us.”

Students responded with mixed reviews.  Greg Edwards ’20 said that he’s used to name changes at Dickinson and that he will “use the old name out of habit.” However, Edwards said that he “totally respect[s] the change.”

James Van Kuilenburg ’22, a student volunteer with the Office of LGBTQ Services, explained that a lot of students do not know what the changes to the office will be, but that the changes will “become more clear in a couple of weeks…”Van Kuilenburg continued and said that it is “good to have change in administration” but he is “not sure what that exactly means for programming.”

This change will build on our commitment to intercultural competency and advance our efforts to create an inclusive campus.