Faculty, staff and students appointed to Presidential Commission for Equity and Inclusion
Four faculty, four staff and four students have been appointed to each serve two-year terms on the newly established Presidential Commission for Equity and Inclusion, which was recently announced by President Kelli J. Armstrong, who will serve as chair of the commission. The commission was created by Dr. Armstrong to examine all aspects of university operations and develop action steps that will advance the university’s Mercy mission.
“The University’s mission is more fully realized when our educational enterprise, institutional structures, university leadership, and community are actively engaged in building a more harmonious, just, and merciful campus as we address the Critical Concerns of Mercy: racism, immigration, women, earth, and non-violence,” Dr. Armstrong said.
Appointed to terms running through May 2022 are:
- Donnie Aikins ’23
- Naomi Cummings ’23
- Izabella Mangual-Solivan ’22
- Tracey Cunningham ’19 (M) ’22 (M)
- Rose Albert, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Programs and Retention
- Santiago Durango, admissions counselor
- Jody Mooradian, director of athletics
- Keith Thompson, learning management systems specialist
- Oyenike Balogun-Mwangi, assistant professor of psychology
- Belinda Barbagallo, assistant professor of biology and biomedical sciences
- Julie L’Europa, assistant professor of nursing
- Tracy Pelkowski, assistant professor of education
Jennifer Boulay, assistant director for assessment and institutional research, will serve as ex-officio.
Commission members were determined through a combination of presidential appointments and campus-wide nominations. They will regularly consult with Salve Regina’s Board of Trustees and alumni based on their expertise and the topics under review.
“My sense is that too many in our community are fearful and/or tentative about engaging in issues of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Oyenike Balogun-Mwangi, assistant professor of psychology. “It is my deepest hope that the Presidential Commission will introduce initiatives that will equip our community to wade bravely into these most important discussions and actively engage in the work of social change.”
Rose Albert ’13, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Programs and Retention, said she is thrilled and ready to challenge her beloved Salve Regina community to do better.
“My hope is that we not only talk about inclusion but make tangible change at Salve,” said Albert. “We need to act upon the injustices that minorities are dealing with on campus and truly discuss those issues with understanding, empathy and transparency. Equity works when everyone has what they need to thrive and Salve has some work to do to truly be inclusive.”
Tracey Cunningham ’19 (M) ’22 (M), who completed her master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling in 2019, is currently enrolled in the master’s program in innovation and strategic management and has a daughter who graduated from Salve Regina in 2019. She said she has devoted her entire career to working with individuals with developmental disabilities and has witnessed the discrimination, exclusion and mistreatment of this population.
“Salve has always been a treasured place,” she said. “I want to be a member of this dynamic team to develop strategies and processes that will allow every student and visitor to feel at home on the Salve campus.” She said she hopes she can help “overcome bias and encourage leaving your comfort zone to embrace experiences with others [who are] unlike you, and to reveal the good in both ourselves and see it in others.”
The commission is charged with the following duties:
- Regular review of Salve Regina’s policies and procedures to ensure that they promote our university values and mercy mission and advance an institutional commitment to equity and inclusion.
- Review and recommendation of ongoing training and development for students, faculty and staff to foster a culture of equity, inclusion, and support for all members of our community.
- Sponsorship of university-wide events and programs to promote deeper understanding of the systemic issues of social inequity and injustice and the ways in which a mercy education calls us to respond.
- Regular, ongoing data collection to monitor university progress on institutional commitments to equity and inclusion.
The Commission will spearhead the following initiatives during 2020-2023:
- Develop statement to acknowledge and clearly define the University’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and communicate a university process to receive, review, and redress bias incidents on campus that violate this statement.
- Host an annual Equity and Inclusion Summit for the university community each spring to provide the best thinking on how to promote equity and inclusion on campus and give the University concrete best practices for improvements to its environment.
- Design and implement a training process for members of the Salve Regina University community, particularly those in high-impact roles, to offer a common vocabulary and understanding around issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, in order to develop a deeper foundation for inclusive conversations and community on campus.
- Contribute to the development of a Leadership Development Program for faculty and staff which will include training to better support students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds with an increased awareness on how to leverage the power of our diversity in living our mission.
- Review the university admissions and hiring processes and make recommendations for how to recruit, select, and support future faculty, staff, and students to ensure Salve Regina University reflects the diverse backgrounds and gifts of our wider community.
- Develop and implement a regular campus-wide climate survey for its students, faculty and staff to provide an ongoing measure of the University’s commitment to advancing equity and inclusion as central to the University’s Mercy, Catholic mission.
- Review virtual and physical spaces on campus that support the work of equity and inclusion and make recommendations for modifications and improvement to the president and senior administration.
For more information on the Presidential Commission for Equity and Inclusion, go here.