Gordon State College Implements New Initiatives to Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Gordon State College has created a Presidential Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in keeping with the ongoing national discussion about racial discrimination. The commission, led by President Kirk A. Nooks, will review issues and policies regarding the institution’s strategic plan and promote a more diverse and inclusive campus community.

Gordon’s commission met earlier this month to identify how the college can increase understanding and awareness along with identifying how the college can better support underrepresented students, faculty and staff. The group will review information including books and videos contained in a commission toolkit, which will also be shared to faculty, staff and students to read along to be better prepared for the campus-wide dialogues that are scheduled for the fall.

Nooks said the desire for the campus-wide dialogues is to present opportunities for critical inquiry, thoughtful reflection and authentic healing. Commission participants will also receive identified training regarding diversity, inclusion and equity topics and facilitate at least two of the campus-wide dialogue sessions. He anticipates a comprehensive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan for the institution by March 2021.

“Our institution’s value of ‘Life-Long Learning’ underscores the concept that we all can continue to evolve over time,” Nooks said. “For the purpose of our collective work, this ‘evolution in thinking’ is the result of an encounter with information that alters a person’s internal compass and results in behavior that demonstrates an external commitment. While some might consider our future dialogues - hard work, I have always considered these conversations – heart work.”

Invitations to serve were sent to Cohort One and Cohort Two of the Highlander Leadership Academy, the leadership of the faculty and staff governance groups and the college’s Cabinet. Student leaders will be added to the commission as well. The group will meet monthly.

Members include Vice President of Advancement, External Relations and Marketing and Executive Director of the Gordon State College Foundation Montrese Adger Fuller; Development Officer and Director of Athletics Stephen Argo; Assistant Director of Residence Life Gratasha Banks; Director of Human Resources Wendy Byrd; Student Success Center Advisor/Lecturer Valerie Calhoun; Director of Housing and Residence Life Tonya Coleman; Vice President of Finance and Administration Megan Davidson; Director of Library Services and Assistant Professor of Library Science Angiah Davis; Director of Financial Aid Jody DeFore; Director of Counseling and Accessibility Services Alicia Dorton; Associate Professor of Sociology Christy Flatt; Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs John Head; Professor of English/CETL Director Anna Higgins-Harrell; Associate Professor of Education Brent Johnson; Professor of Economics Prathibha Joshi Beck; Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs C. Jeffery Knighton; Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness Britt Lifsey; Chief of Public Safety Jeff Mason; Director of Student Life and Recreation Brienne McDaniel; Department Head of Health Information Management Victoria Mills; Student Life and Alumni Affairs Coordinator Jeremy Monroe; Director of Career Services Tonya Moore; Employee Engagement and Organizational Development Manager Creche Navarro; Associate Professor of Theatre Tony Pearson; Associate Professor of English Michele Perry-Stewart; Accounting Assistant Carlous Plummer; Professor of English Stephen Raynie; Professor of Biology and Interim Department Head for Natural Sciences Lynn Rumfelt; Special Assistant to the President LaSha Sanders; Assistant Professor of Psychology Jessica Traylor; Lecturer of Health Information Management Ryran Traylor; Dean for the School of Nursing, Health and Natural Sciences Victor Vilchiz; Associate Professor of Political Science; Brian Webb; Professor of Health & Physical Education Jeff White and Student Success Advisor/Lecturer James Woodruff.