By Leighah Beausoleil
Following the departure of former Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) Director Erin Nguyen, the CIE will remain open with limited programming.
Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement (DICE) Jeffrey Coleman said he will be supervising and supporting Emma Laurie, CIE program coordinator, while he begins the search for the next CIE director.
Coleman said he is promoting and marketing the position to individuals across the country in the hope of gathering a diverse pool of applicants.
“I actually sent out the announcement about the position to over 80 or so colleagues across the country who work in diversity and inclusion work and student affairs work just to make sure we have sort of a large presence across the country,” he said.
He added in addition to his own network, he suspects his colleagues will share the position through their respective networks as well.
Prior to his departure, Coleman said he and Nguyen spoke to discuss his experiences as director, what he had been working on at the CIE, and the initiatives he had been involved with and what feedback he had received about them.
Although Laurie is the only professional staff member at the CIE, Coleman said faculty, staff, and alumni have reached out to him about potentially offering programs and hosting events.
“I'm also interested in seeing if there are some other folks who are looking for graduate internship experiences that we can also provide that opportunity for them to get experience working in the CIE,” he added.
Laurie works part-time for the CIE, which means she only has 18 hours per week to devote to CIE programming. As a result, CIE programming will be limited, with her current focus on Black History Month.
In celebration, Laurie said she and Kathleen Barnard, student engagement coordinator for the Henry Whittemore Library, will be co-hosting a book discussion of “March,” a graphic novel series written by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin with art by Nate Powell.
The series includes three graphic novels, which students will receive copies of after signing up for the discussion, according to Laurie.
In addition, Coleman said Laurie will be hosting a social media series on Instagram focused on the origins of Black History Month as well as a series on media produced by Black directors, authors, and creators.
Along with her programming and social media work, Laurie said she handles the logistics of events that take place in the CIE, which includes using 25Live to book spaces, set up catering, and post advertising.
She also mentors and assists the University’s affinity groups when needed.
Laurie said she is working on planning the Intercultural Ceremony that will take place in May for graduates.
About Nguyen’s departure, she said she is “personally, very sad. … I miss him being here.
“He was a great first boss to have post-college,” Laurie said, adding she would often tell Nguyen this and he would say, “Well, this might also be setting you up for disappointment.”
Despite her regret in seeing Nguyen leave, she also said on a professional level, she is “excited” having been granted a new level of independence.
Laurie added Coleman has been “pretty helpful with some ideas for programming for the spring and for the future.”
Coleman said transitioning to Framingham State has been “great.
“I've really enjoyed becoming part of a campus community that embraces ways to become an anti-racist institution,” he said, “which really speaks volumes to a desire to be a campus community where you are removing barriers, you're creating equitable resources and learning opportunities for students from all backgrounds, and you're embracing faculty and staff from all backgrounds.”
Coleman added, “When we go down this road, we will become a university where every member of the university is concerned and helps contribute to the success of all students, and that's really the definition of what inclusive excellence is.”
He said this persistence will lead to success for FSU’s students and “create a sense of belonging for all students from all backgrounds.”
As vice president of DICE, Coleman said he has a number of goals for the CIE.
Coleman said one of these goals is ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion is viewed in its “broadest” form to ensure the inclusion of those from a variety of backgrounds, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic backgrounds, and first-generation students.
This will also include a look into how pop culture is influenced by diversity, equity, and inclusion, he said.
Coleman said he would also like to encourage more student-initiated discussions, explaining when he worked at Georgia State University, students were given the space to host their own discussions, on topics of their choice, and then lead them while staff helped facilitate.
“It really allowed them to be able to engage in these dialogues around diversity, equity, and inclusion with each other without us as a staff or faculty provoking discussions, but they would come up organically, which is what we want students to be thinking about,” he added.
“We can also be intentional about helping students see the skills that they're developing through the programming, how those skills are impacting their purpose, and in their personal and academic goals, how these skills can contribute toward their career goals as well.”
He said reflection following discussions is just as important in order to grow as individuals. These cultural competency skills can be brought to their future careers and help them understand how to “work and interact in a global society.”
Further in the future, Coleman said he would like to also make the CIE a space for workshops and trainings on topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, cultural competency, and skill building. Additionally, he hopes the CIE will also provide a space for faculty and staff to present research and their publications as well as host book discussions.
He said he liked a lot of the work Nguyen had undertaken in the CIE space, such as decorating the center with student art.
“I'd like to see the CIE be a place where we can really develop some more services to support the campus community,” Coleman said. “It'd be great. I really would like for it to be a diversity hub for the campus.”