Embracing the heart of our mission

Recognition of the need for change is only the first step. Our students and alumni brought that need to light and now the responsibility is on all of us in the College community to make it happen. The commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is ongoing, and this is how we are devoting ourselves to this cause--both now and in the future.

Commitments from the President

Commitments shared with the campus community by President Hammond on June 3, 2020.

I am thankful for the activism of our Black students, alumni and allies. I am proud of their efforts as students to make North Central College a better place, and there are things in place now on our campus that are the direct result of these efforts. For example, every single student, staff, and faculty member today receives training around diversity and inclusion. While our Black students and alumni should be proud to have been catalysts for this change, we should be ashamed this was not already in place. We have tried to do good work along this journey but we have made mistakes. I have learned that there is still much more to be done before we begin to resemble our vision of a diverse and inclusive community. In order to take the next steps in making greater change on this campus, I am committing to several things:

  1. I am aware that our students and alumni are collecting stories of their experiences. I support that effort, and importantly, I want to see them and hear them. Additionally, I want the entire campus community to see them and hear them, so I can work with others to ensure that these stories can affect our actions moving forward.
  2. I will host an online Town Hall so that students as well as staff, faculty and trustees of the College can discuss opportunities to make us better.
  3. At the recommendation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, I am committing to a campus-wide climate study during the upcoming academic year.
  4. I will require each faculty search committee and each staff hiring manager to report to me on their efforts to recruit, hire, and retain persons of color.
  5. I will require regular reporting of student retention data by race, as an important measure of our efforts.
  6. I will meet on a regular basis with our Black students, faculty, and staff to listen and learn more while continuing our progress.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the North Central College Strategic Plan

In May 2017, the College’s Board of Trustees adopted “Pathway to A Brilliant Future: The North Central College Strategic Plan.” The Plan has more than 200 tactics that roll up to 18 different strategies, supporting 4 overarching Strategic Imperatives. The Strategic Imperatives are “Student Learning and Success,” “College of Destination,” “Culture of Excellence,” and “Diversity, Inclusion, Global Engagement.” The Strategic Plan continues to guide the College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, with specific DEI strategies and tactics embedded throughout the Plan from its adoption.

Importantly, the College’s plan was developed to be flexible and adaptable, without a particular end date. Rather, the Plan continues to evolve in response to the changing needs of our students. To that end and since the plan was adopted in 2017, the College has added several tactics to expand our DEI efforts. In spring 2019, President Hammond established the College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, which was charged to, among other things, “Review existing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives throughout campus, including strategies and tactics within the Strategic Plan, revisit all timelines, incorporate new ideas, and reprioritize all activities and timelines accordingly.” 

The Task Force has made recommendations that have resulted in additional institutional DEI commitments that are now reflected and tracked in the Plan. The Task Force and our staff in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion will continue to both inform and advance the College’s Strategic Plan.

You are encouraged to review the College’s Strategic Plan in its entirety.

President's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force

Task Force History and Charge

As stated in its Strategic Plan, North Central College aspires to “Thrive as a diverse, inclusive, and globally engaged community … ” In Spring 2019, the discovery of racist material in the College’s archives, reports of racist incidents on campus, and a Black Student Association (BSA) forum where students shared the harm they experience from overt racism and forms of microaggression were reminders that there remains much work to do on this important Strategic Imperative.

In light of those events, which lent greater urgency for advancing our diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, the College established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, consisting of students, faculty, and staff. This Task Force operates in a manner consistent with the College’s Strategic Plan and complements ongoing efforts and initiatives by certain campus groups including the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFÉ), the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT), the Bias Education Team (BET), Cardinal Safe Zone, the Title IX office, Human Resources, the research team engaged in further study of the College’s archives, and the working group specifically addressing the series of demands made by BSA. 

It is the charge of the Task Force to:

  • Identify the needs of underrepresented members of our community and make recommendations for initiatives that will be ongoing with a clear intention to effect permanent cultural change on matters of diversity, equity and inclusion; 
  • Solicit input for doing so from all College constituencies including students, faculty, staff, members of the Board of Trustees, and alumni; 
  • Review existing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives throughout campus, including strategies and tactics within the Strategic Plan, revisit all timelines, incorporate new ideas, and reprioritize all activities and timelines accordingly; 
  • Ensure ongoing accountability throughout the campus community on all diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and 
  • Engage in capacity-building work as a group, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops. The Task Force will: 
  • Deliver monthly updates to the Presidents Council; 
  • Host at least one campus community forum each semester and schedule additional forums in conjunction with the implementation of new initiatives as warranted. 

Task Force Membership

Initial membership for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force was determined in collaboration with Faculty Speaker, Dr. Lou Corsino; the faculty Steering Committee; leadership of the Black Student Association; the Office of Student Affairs; and the Cabinet. Subsequent appointments are made by the President, upon recommendation from the Task Force members.


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Task Force Co-Chairs

  • Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences 
  • Dorothy Pleas, Assistant Dean of Students; Director of Multicultural Affairs

Administrative Support

  • Christine Drover, Administrative Assistant to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Representatives

  • Dr. Suzanne Chod, Associate Professor of Political Science; Coordinator of Gender and Sexual Studies
  • Dr. Alicia Okpareke, Associate Professor of Education; Education Assessment Coordinator
  • Dr. Jelena Sanchez, Assistant Professor of Spanish
  • Dr. Donnavieve Smith, Associate Professor of Marketing

Staff Representatives

  • Kamelotte Gregory MA ‘20, Assistant Director, Center for Social Impact

Student Representatives

  • Davin Allen ’20, MA ’22, graduate/Area Hall Director
  • Morolake Gòkè-Pariolá ’23, undergraduate
  • Nayeli Montes ’22, undergraduate

Cabinet Liasion

  • Dr. Rebecca Gordon, Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Title IX/504 Coordinator

Past Members

  • 2019-21     Dr. William Barnett, Associate Professor of History; Chair of the Department of History
  • 2020-21     Dr. Abiódún Gòkè-Pariolá, Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs
  • 2019-20     Dr. Kimberly Sluis ‘99, Vice-President for Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives
  • 2019-20     Keinesha Balkcom, Accounts Payable Specialist
  • 2019-20     Juan Sanchez ’20, undergraduate student
  • 2019-20     Jeff Thorne, Head Football Coach
  • 2019-20     Izaiah Webb ’20, undergraduate student
  • 2019-21     Dr. Marco Martinez, Associate Professor of Mathematics; Coordinator of Actuarial Science
  • 2020-21     Susan Kane ‘02, Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator
  • 2019-21     Sharon Merrill ‘99, Director of Human Resources
  • 2020-21     Kimberly Garibay ’23, undergraduate

DEI Task Force Initial Working Group Rosters

Faculty Retention and Evaluation

  • Dr. Marco V. Martinez, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Actuarial Science (chairperson)
  • Dr. Donnavieve Smith, Associate Professor of Marketing
  • Dr. Rebecca Gordon, Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Dr. Shelley Birdsong, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
  • Dr. Chandreyee Mitra, Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Dr. Megan Paustian, Associate Professor of English
  • Dr. Leila Azarbad, Professor of Psychology
  • David Cordero, Assistant Professor of Art and Design
  • Dr. Laura Lodewyck, Assistant Professor of Theatre
  • Dr. Sohinee Roy, Associate Professor of English
  • Hale Ekinci, Associate Professor of Art and Design

Staff Retention and Evaluation

  • Haydee Nunez (chairperson), Director of Career Development
  • Sharon Merrill, Director of Human Resources
  • Elizabeth Nicholson, Interim Coordinator of Library Services; Instructional Services Librarian
  • James Miller, Director of Athletics
  • Keinesha Balkcom, Accounts Payable Specialist
  • Lisa Pettaway, Director of the Annual Fund, Office of Development
  • Natalie Vivacqua, Director of Operations, Business Operations
  • Tiffany Backstrom, Assistant Registrar

Diversity Statement

  • Davin Allen ’20, MA ’22 (chairperson), Graduate Assistant, First Generation Programs
  • Dr. Suzanne Chod, Associate Professor of Political Science
  • Andrew Sauer, Assistant Director of Sports Information
  • Dr. Tiffany Delane, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies
  • Jacqueline Taylor ’19, MA ’21, Graduate Assistant, First Generation Programs
  • Elizabeth Rodriguez ’21
  • Penelope Reyes ’21
  • Khadeil Ergas, Graduate Assistant, Office of Multicultural Affairs

Bias Policy

  • Kamelotte Gregory MA ’20 (chairperson), Assistant Director, Center for Social Impact
  • Dorothy Pleas, Assistant Dean of Students; Director of Multicultural Affairs
  • Kimberly Garibay ’23         
  • Sue Kane ‘02, Associate Athletic Director; Senior Woman Administrator
  • Dr. Sean Kim Butorac, Assistant Professor of Political Science  
  • Soile Talmadge ’22
  • Milia Harris ’20, MA ’22, Graduate Assistant, Center for Social Impact and Leadership Ethics and Values Program
  • Dr. Michael Blight, Assistant Professor of Communication

Campus Climate Study

  • Princess Adams ’21
  • Dr. Suzanne Chod, Associate Professor of Political Science
  • Dr. Rebecca Gordon, Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Michael Longworth
  • Dorothy Pleas, Assistant Dean of Students; Director of Multicultural Affairs
  • Dr. Nicole Rivera, Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Dr. Jennifer Shah, Assistant Professor of Education

Campus Forums

Students walking towards Wentz Science Center

September 3, 2019, Stevenson Hall

Update on Task Force work, invitation for community sharing, questions and answers

Students outside of Boho

November 13, 2019, Stevenson Hall

Two sessions centering on microaggressions, designed to help participants gain an understanding of what implicit bias and microaggressions are, the science behind these concepts and how to prevent imposing them on others

Jefferson Plaza

Spring Forums

All spring semester forums were cancelled in light of the campus closure due to COVID-19

Listening Sessions

This summer, President Hammond had the opportunity to host several listening sessions with several groups including:

  • Black students;
  • Black student athletes;
  • the African American Alumni Association Board;
  • LatinX students;
  • The Student Governing Association (SGA);
  • Black staff;
  • Black faculty.

Here we have provided several themes that emerged from the Listening Sessions he hosted so far. The information gathered from these Listening Sessions will inform additional actions we will take toward creating a more inclusive North Central College.

Listening Session Themes

During the listening sessions, students, student athletes, faculty, staff, and alumni expressed a desire for:

  • Greater representation on campus of BIPOC students, student athletes, faculty, staff, and coaches
  • Establish greater resources and additional support for BIPOC students/student athletes, faculty, staff, and coaches
  • Review evaluation systems in order to more formally acknowledge the invisible labor of BIPOC faculty and staff
  • Increased mental health support for BIPOC students
  • Increased training on diversity and inclusion, anti-racism, and allyship
  • Evaluation of existing bias-related policies, procedures, and consequences
  • Evaluation of how BIPOC student and student athlete images are used in promotional materials
  • Required class on race
  • Improved transparency in communication
  • Increased alumni engagement
  • Greater parent feedback

Campus Climate Study

The process to identify a climate survey began in the Task Force in Fall 2019. The Task Force evaluated a number of climate survey instruments. After evaluation, the Task Force recommended that the College proceed with administering the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium’s Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey.  In Spring 2020, a small group of faculty and staff worked to develop additional questions to be included in the Climate Survey. The group plans to administer the survey to the campus in Fall semester 2020 after soliciting final input from a faculty, staff and student working group.

Students sitting outside of the wentz science center

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at North Central

North Central College strives to grow in diversity, equity and inclusion through the work of our faculty and staff, the openness and honesty of our students, the support of our alumni, and the continuing commitment of the entire North Central community. Share our journey with us and discover how we are working to be the change and become a true college of destination.

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