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STLCC Strives to Ensure Diversity and Inclusion Are Key Pieces of Institutional Identity

December 08, 2016

image of diverse STLCC student body  
St. Louis Community College has one of the most diverse
student body populations in the area.

The daily news, and particularly during the recently-concluded presidential election campaign, has been punctuated with stories concerning race relations, social injustice, gender inequity, immigration reform, and so on.

For more than 50 years, St. Louis Community College has been a leader in the St. Louis region and a driving force for positive change. Sadly, recent incidents in race relations have cast a shadow on St. Louis and the outstanding achievements that make St. Louis a great place to live and work.

For STLCC, these events are a call to action -- an unprecedented moment in history for the college to take the lead in providing an environment of diversity, inclusion, equity and justice for students, faculty, staff and community partners.

STLCC has one of the most diverse student body populations of any higher education institutions in the area in terms of age, race and ethnicity. The college currently is engaged in more than 20 diversity impact initiatives, 30 diversity-related student groups, and a number of partnerships with leading community advocacy organizations.

“Despite our strong track record of diversity, we realize that the mission of creating an environment that embraces diversity and inclusion is ongoing,” said STLCC Chancellor Jeff Pittman, Ph.D. “Therefore, we remain vigilant in our efforts to review our existing policies and make changes when necessary.”

To that end, STLCC has developed a Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. It is the result of the collaborative efforts of the college’s Diversity Council, which consists of a cross section of employees and students throughout the district. The plan focuses on four areas: Institutional Transformation, The Student Experience, Community Partnerships and Marketing/Communications.

According to Keith Fuller, STLCC’s director of Diversity and Inclusion, each of the actions is clear, time sensitive, measurable and achievable.

“The goal of this plan is to change the entire culture and make diversity and inclusion a piece of the fabric of who we are at St. Louis Community College,” Fuller said.

To effect change in the plan’s four areas previously mentioned, Fuller said the college will

  • Strive for institutional transformation through a review of hiring practices and investing in the training of its leadership, faculty and staff.
  • Encourage all faculty to include a college wide diversity statement in each syllabus and other communications, and encourage the formation of student groups to promote diversity.
  • Strengthen its relationship with organizations involved in community advocacy, include working with local chambers, supporting community initiatives and providing outreach to underserved areas.
  • Demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion in its branding, messaging and public relations.

“As a society, we have allowed ourselves to be less civil. The political arena is a prime example of how lies become the truth,” Fuller said. “At STLCC, we are finding that individuals are hungry for the opportunity to share their feelings and thoughts, and they quickly become comfortable when feel they are in a safe and brave space to share what’s on their minds.”

Fuller said the plan’s direction is to get beyond issues surrounding race and gender only.

“Our goal is to get beyond that, but these are good starting points,” Fuller said. “In many areas, STLCC does not reflect our community, particularly in the faculty ranks. A key motivation for students is to be taught by and be able to interact with people who look like them. This plan is a working document that will not sit on the shelf. It will help us find ways to incorporate issues surrounding diversity and inclusion into everything we’re talking about and what we do.”