FSU Awarded Grant Focusing on Diversity Initiatives

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fairmont State University has been awarded a Diversity through Equity Grant from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission to build and support diversity initiatives for students, faculty, staff and the broader Fairmont community.

Through a competitive grant process, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (the Commission) awarded funds to state colleges and universities for initiatives that focus on the notion of diversity for equity in educational outcomes. FSU was awarded $5,250 for the 2011-2012 academic year.

“We recognize the breadth of diversity in West Virginia and acknowledge that educational attainment varies across different forms of diversity. In order to celebrate and honor diversity, West Virginia must focus on delineating and closing the achievement gap,” said Daniel Crockett, Director, Student and Educational Services for the Commission.

“Our aim is to make higher education accessible to citizens representing broad demographics of age, location and educational background. We must work to ensure that students not only have the opportunity to attend institutions of higher education, but also are prepared to succeed.”

A key element of Fairmont State University’s grant focuses on creating an archive of personal stories of diversity at FSU and in the Fairmont community. The aim of the archive is to provide Fairmont State and community members the ability to search these stories and use them as a basis for teaching activities, academic programs and public conversations and dialogues on issues of diversity in the area, state, nation and world.

Dr. Tara Brooks, Director of Multicultural Affairs, joined with Dr. Van Dempsey, Dean of the School of Education and Health and Human Performance, to apply for the grant.

“When students enter into a university community, they often find themselves not only academically challenged, but also challenged in finding out who they are and how they fit into the community,” Brooks said. “By allowing these students and our whole community to hear where others have come from and where they have gone, our hope is that it will help everyone relate to these stories and guide them in their personal journey of understanding who they are and can be in the world.”

In addition to the digital archive, the grant will help: (1) create a strategic plan for diversity related activities; (2) develop a course for faculty and staff focused on building and sustaining a culture of respect for, engagement with and celebration of diverse issues; (3) host a series of events that encourage deliberate discussions about factors that marginalize students and constrain or deny access to learning or education.

“The premise of our grant proposal was based on key ways of re-imagining what ‘diversity’ means at Fairmont State University and with our broader community,” Dempsey said. “The University must be able to sustain a climate and culture where students have access to resources, ways of knowing and ways of being that nurture their own success and opportunities for creating a more diverse community.”

The first round of archival stories will be completed by the end of the 2011-2012 academic year. If you would like to share your story, please contact Dr. Tara Brooks at tbrooks1@fairmontstate.edu.