HCC working to increase diversity

December 12, 2004|By Wanda T. WILLIAMS


In a move to increase campus diversity, Hagerstown Community College formed a racially mixed multicultural committee through which members hope to create a more multicultural campus, campus officials said.

Donna Rudy, chairwoman of the Multicultural Committee and HCC's dean of student affairs, said the committee also will explore ways to strengthen the recruitment and retention of minority students, faculty and staff.

"In higher education, you open the doors for students, so you want to make sure you have a representative body of students, as well as faculty and staff who service those students," Rudy said.


According to HCC's 2004 records, minorities represent about 11 percent of the student population and 6 percent of campus faculty and staff. The 11 percent does not include 68 students identified as foreign, unknown or other. Those are students who are not U.S. citizens, or students who did not voluntarily indicate that they belonged to a minority or nonminority category on their admission application, Rudy said.

HCC's growth among permanent minority staff increased from 4 percent in 2001 to 6 percent in 2004.

The Multicultural Committee was organized in 2003 to plan the college's first Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Rudy said the celebration was just the beginning of the committee's work on campus.

"We've been busy planning next year's MLK celebration, but in the spring, we hope to explore the other parts of our charge," Rudy said.

Rudy, who came to HCC a year ago, served as an assistant to Melvin C. Terrell, vice president of student affairs at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, about seven years ago, she said. Rudy said Terrell is a leading authority on diversity and multiculturalism on college campuses. During her time at the university, Rudy co-authored a book, performed research and wrote several academic articles on multiculturalism, she said.

"In diverse environments, it's hard for people to draw stereotypical conclusions about members of groups when they're exposed to someone who doesn't represent the myth," Rudy said.

U.S. News & World Report lists Northeastern Illinois as one of the most diverse college campuses in the Midwest. The university has been recognized by the magazine since 1997, said Erika Krehbiel, the university's director of media relations.

"They couldn't have selected a better person to serve as the committee chair," Terrell said. "She's quite capable of leading such a distinguished committee, and the president of the college should be commended for having such a committee."

The committee is co-chaired by Carole Richardson, HCC's first minority hired to serve as the campus' director of instruction. Richardson joined the staff in 2003 from American University in Washington, D.C. She brings a wealth of multicultural work force and academic experience to the group as well, Rudy said.

"We're talking about infusing diversity into the curriculum and campus to make sure that we have a welcoming environment to new students who may be first-generation college students," Richardson said.

Other Multicultural Committee members include Connie Devilbiss, Fonda Franklin, Joan Johnson, Kenny Keyes, Michael Parsons, Ellen Smith, Lisa Smith-Proffitt and Spring Ward.

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