May 6, 2011 | WMU News
KALAMAZOO--A 2010-11 pilot program proved so successful in engaging the Western Michigan University community in diversity and inclusion issues that the program is being continued for the 2011-2012 academic year.
The Everyone Counts Faculty and Professional Learning Communities pilot program concluded last December and brought together 50 faculty and staff members from across the University for a yearlong exploration of how to increase diversity and inclusion on campus.
Those who wish to participate in this year's program need to submit an application by Wednesday, June 1. Group activities will begin in September and end in April, with participants required to attend a select group of sessions throughout those months.
Last year, the Everyone Counts diversity and inclusion learning community centered on the theme of race and used the "Race: Are we so Different?" traveling exhibit on display in Kalamazoo as its anchor. This year, race will again be the theme, but multiple perspectives on the concept will be presented to help program participants sort out their views and develop a personal definition of race.
Everyone Counts draws on the "learning community" model, which helps create a supportive environment where personal exploration can take place. A major asset of the model is that it equips participants to apply what they learn about themselves and the selected theme by focusing on a specific project or course.
All full- and part-time faculty and staff members, as well as graduate teaching assistants, are encouraged to apply to Everyone Counts. Participants will be assigned to small learning communities of eight to 12 members that will meet at a time convenient to the majority of the groups' members.
The small groups will gather twice a month to discuss literature on diversity, listen to guest speakers, attend workshops and conferences, and talk about the challenges and opportunities they face in their work. In addition, group members will receive a small amount of money to create projects that directly integrate what they are learning into their daily work.
Overall, Everyone Counts is a professional-development opportunity that seeks to equip all levels of employees with skills needed to respond to WMU's increasingly diverse campus. The theme chosen addresses issues relevant to the University's Diversity and Multiculturalism Action Plan.
The program is being led by Dr. Andrea Beach, director of the Office of Faculty Development and an associate professor of education leadership, research and technology; Diana Hernandez, director of the Division of Multicultural Affairs; and Tierra L. Marshall, graduate assistant in the faculty development office.
Application packets are due by Wednesday, June 1, to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Mail Stop 5372. The materials being requested of applicants, such as biographical information and a supervisor's letter of support, will help ensure that each small group is diverse and composed of members who are in a position to meet on a regular basis.
For an Everyone Counts application form or more information, visit wmich.edu/facdev or contact Andrea Beach at (269) 387-0732 or Diana Hernandez at (269) 387-4429.