Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force Welcome Letter

September 8, 2020

Sep 17, 2020

Members of the North Central College Community,

Please allow us to add our heartfelt welcome to the many that you have received over the past few weeks. It is certainly an unusual year, with many challenges, but the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force members are looking forward to engaging with you as we move forward to realize the College’s mission and vision.

Our work does not occur in isolation from the rest of the world. The past few months in particular have been characterized by acute pain and compounded fatigue for many members of our community. In our first Task Force meeting, we reflected on the events of the summer.  We have been disheartened by continuing high-profile incidents of anti-Black racism and the startlingly callous response by so many Americans (including some of our family members and friends).  Yet we are optimistic about the growth that we have witnessed and the energy that has emerged. We begin this academic year with a clear focus and a steadfast determination to assist North Central in realizing its mission.

We wanted to take a moment to inform you (or remind you) about the work of the President’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; alert you to the membership of this year’s Task Force; and to highlight some of the programming that we have planned.

President Hammond formed the Task Force in the spring of 2019 to engage with the campus community for the purpose of creating a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse College. Students, faculty, and staff meet regularly to discuss campus culture, plan events, and advise campus leadership. Below our signatures are the names and titles of the Task Force members. You should not hesitate to reach out to any of us at any time with ideas, concerns, or suggestions. Attached to this message is the updated Task Force charge, approved by President’s Council this summer.

Based on feedback from the community, and consistent with President Hammond’s vision, one of the decisions we made this summer is to increase the capacity of the Task Force by creating a set of working groups that will target key institutional initiatives and issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion and bring recommendations back to the Task Force to be shared with College administration. While we envision a number of these groups will emerge over the years (e.g., faculty and staff recruitment, institutional communication, student retention), we are announcing today that we will begin with the following working groups:

  • Campus climate study - Review chosen survey instrument for a campus-wide climate study during the 2020-21 academic year
  • Faculty retention and evaluation - Consult historical data, examine the policies and processes used to evaluate faculty, consider support systems that would be helpful for faculty of color
  • Staff retention and evaluation - Consult historical data, examine the policies and processes used to evaluate staff, consider support systems that would be helpful for staff of color
  • Diversity Statement – Create overarching diversity statement for the college
  • Bias incident policy and response - Review current college policies and response protocols surrounding incidents of bias and hate on campus

More information (including charges) for these working groups is forthcoming, but if you (faculty, staff, or student) are interested in serving please reach out to either of us.

We also want to call your attention to the Black Lives Matter Library Guide that the Task Force produced with support from the Oesterle Library staff (particularly Elizabeth Nicholson and Melissa Proulx) and the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (especially Dr. Jennifer Keys and Dr. Megan Paustian) over the summer. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with this resource, share with others, and let Melissa know if you have additions (or find expired links).

Finally, we wanted to let you know that we will continue to host campus forums, though we will do so virtually for the fall and, likely, for the spring. The first will be held at 6:00pm on Monday, October 12, and it will be centered on student research projects on racist material in the Chronicle and yearbook archives (this event was postponed from last spring). A registration link will follow closer to the event.

We are delighted to invite you to attend a talk on inclusive campus environments and spaces for having conversations about race and equity by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College sponsored by the New American Colleges and Universities. The talk will be Wednesday, September 30, 2020 from 1:00-2:00pm CDT. You can register by clicking here. More information about this event is below.

Other Events Promoted by the Task Force:

  • Wednesday, September 16 from 3pm-4:30pm – Bias Incident Policy Presentation
  • Tuesday, October 22 from 12pm-1:30pm – Bias Incident Policy Presentation
  • Monday, October 26 from 3pm-4:30pm – Bias Education Team Anti-Racism Workshop - Session 1
  • Wednesday, October 28 from 3pm-4:30pm - CHIRP Dialogue Training/Bias Education Team Anti-Racism Workshop - Session 2
  • Wednesday, November 10 from 3pm-4:30pm – Bias Incident Policy Presentation

Thank you for your support, and thank you in advance for the work we will do together this year.


Task Force Co-chairs

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

Administrative Support

  • Marilyn Zydlo, Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives

Faculty Representatives

  • Dr. William Barnett, Associate Professor of History; Chair of the Department of History
  • Dr. Suzanne Chod, Associate Professor of Political Science; Coordinator of Gender and Sexual Studies
  • Dr. Marco Martinez, Associate Professor of Mathematics; Coordinator of Actuarial Science
  • Dr. Alicia Okpareke, Associate Professor of Education; Education Assessment Coordinator
  • Dr. Donnavieve Smith, Associate Professor of Marketing

Staff Representatives

  • Dr. Rebecca Gordon, Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Title IX/504 Coordinator
  • Sharon Merrill ‘99, Director of Human Resources
  • Kamelotte Gregory MA ‘20, Assistant Director, Center for Social Impact
  • Susan Kane ‘02, Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator

Student Representatives

  • Davin Allen ’20, MA ’22, graduate
  • Kimberly Garibay ’23, undergraduate
  • Morolake Gòkè-Pariolá ’23, undergraduate

Cabinet Liaison

  • Dr. Kimberly Sluis ‘99, Vice-President for Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives