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Westminster hosts luncheon to discuss new diversity strategic plan

Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr. Marco Barker speaks to luncheon attendees at Westminster on the Draw Friday. The lecture was part of the B.W Bastian Diversity Series and discussed Westminster College’s Diversity Strategic Plan. (Photo by Sebastian Durante)

A Westminster College administrator and guest speaker address the campus community about the college’s commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion across the institution at the B.W Bastian Diversity Series luncheon on Friday at Westminster on the Draw.

In 2017, Westminster adopted its first Diversity Statement which was part of the college’s Five-Year Strategic Plan. The college has since crafted a Diversity Strategic Plan to define what diversity means and outline a plan for making Westminster a more diverse campus, according to the college’s website.

At Friday’s luncheon, Dr. Marco Barker, associate vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Westminster College, and Dr. Katrice Albert, the vice president of inclusion and human resources for the NCAA, spoke about the college’s Diversity Strategic Plan.

“The opening sentence to our diversity statement reads that Westminster College is dedicated to social justice, equity and respect as fundamental components of our mission and core values,” Barker said. “Our statement then goes on to talk about the importance of inclusive excellence.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Katrice Albert speaks to the audience at the B.W. Bastian Diversity series lecture Friday. Albert’s speech touched on the importance of Westminster’s Diversity Strategic Plan. (Photo by Sebastian Durante)

The keynote speaker was Dr. Katrice Albert who built upon Barker’s discussion of the Diversity Strategic Plan.

“Our grand opportunity with this diversity [strategic] plan is to leverage all of the intellectual curiosities, to open minds, and to engage one another,” Albert said. “Real, and I mean real kinds of engagement, this authentic, fearless connectivity that can lead to more meaningful and passionate action.”

Audience members reacted to Albert and Barker’s presentations, showing support for efforts to further support marginalized groups.

“I’m new [to Westminster], I moved here from Cincinnati Ohio, and we had a very robust diversity program,” said Nicole Jenkins, the program coordinator for the graduate and adult program services office. “I have only been at Westminster for about two and a half to three weeks, but I was pleasantly surprised and inspired by the Diversity Strategic Plan.”

Jenkins also said that she had been curious to see how a small college like Westminster would handle such a large and complicated topic, as her prior experiences had been at a large university.

Albert also discussed the difficulties and importance of open discussions around the issues of inclusion.

“These conversations are hard, they’re emotional, they are complicated because we are talking about inclusion, and that is the most visceral part of people’s lives,” Albert said. “These are not glamorous moments, but they add value and they are necessary to create real change in our communities.”

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Sebastian is a 20-year-old junior communication major at Westminster College, who grew up in rural Vermont. An avid car enthusiast and skier, he prefers to spend his free time outdoors. He hates hot weather and is extremely impatient. Sebastian is happy to serve as The Forum's Business and Advertising Director.

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