Diversity comes into focus through advisory committee
President Thomas Hellie has created an advisory com- mittee for diversity with the hopes of increasing diversity on campus, both in the stu- dent body and in the faculty and staff.
“Linfield’s diversity is growing,” Hellie said.
This year’s freshman class is 33 percent students of color, which is one percent higher than the last year’s freshmen class, according to Hellie.
“We have a much more diverse student body than we did even five years ago,” Hellie said. “But I wanted to get a group of interested and talented people together to help us think about how we as college embrace diversity.”
The committee is made up of 17 students, staff and faculty. Hellie gathered members from all parts of Linfield and included members from the Portland Campus, the Office of Human Resources, Facilities and Grounds, the Office of Financial Aid, the Office of Student Affairs, faculty and the student body. The group is working on coming up with ways to not only increase diversity but also to help build a community that attracts diversity.
“It is not enough to just invite people to join us as students,” Hellie said. “We also need to think about what it means to us as a whole community to become different than we once were.”
After discussing the issue of diversity in last year’s strategic planning meeting, Hellie announced his plans for the formation of this committee.
“It really is just a think tank for me right now,” Hellie said.
It is the job of the committee to look at issues of diversity at Linfield and “ask questions on how it can be more welcoming to Americans of color.”
Before tackling the issue of what needs to be done, the committee has worked on cataloging what the college already does toward the issue of diversity.
“It’s quite an impressive list that has been forming,” Hellie said. “We have things like the Hispanic Heritage Day and the Luau, which are pretty public. Then there are courses that are being offered and recruitment that is happening and student outreach. And a lot of people don’t know that.”
The committee is also looking at what other colleges are doing to address this issue, hoping to take and use some of their strategies to increase diversity.
Another topic the committee is looking into is how to make Linfield more attractive to a diverse employee base.
“It’s easier to transform diversity in the student body, because they’re only here four or five years,” Hellie said. “Whereas the people we hire here are normally here for several years. Trying to create and add more diversity to the faculty and staff would take more time, but none the less, we want to start to explore ways in which we can make it more attractive for people of all different backgrounds.”
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.