At the beginning of this semester, John Carroll University welcomed Terry Mills as the first assistant provost of diversity and chief diversity officer. This marks a new era for John Carroll in their initiative to promote diversity. Previously, the University did not have an administrator in charge of diversity issues. While Mills acknowledges that the position is still developing, he states that his chief duty is prioritizing student diversity.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, diversity is defined as “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.” Mills’ position offers an opportunity for clarifying what diversity is, and how JCU can foster diversity initiatives. Not only is it essential for Mills to take this position seriously, but also to develop concrete, achievable goals for the future of the University.
Mills recognizes the divide between the public and private attitudes of the student population. For example, students leap at the opportunity to embody Jesuit values in public. But in private, they might neglect these values.
In addition to making these important observations, Mills also realizes the need to encourage an open conversation about the different meanings of diversity, not just racial diversity. It is clear that many students have different, and oftentimes limited, experiences with diversity. This affects their views on its importance on campus.
In order to accomplish these goals, Mills should create a program focused on engaging the John Carroll community and attaining the next level of excellence. One way to advance these goals would be an open forum, during which students could share views and beliefs about diversity on campus. Another possible option would be a media campaign for students to use their artistic talents to express their views openly.
Acceptance of diversity is an integral to a Jesuit institution such as John Carroll. In light of that, Mills’ presence on campus allows for the necessary conversation of what diversity is, and how John Carroll, as a community of men and women for others, can nurture that diversity.