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New Cultural Center, Teaching Fellows Project to advance DEI efforts at Westminster College

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Posted on Thursday, February 24, 2022

Westminster College’s commitment to building a culturally and racially diverse community continues with plans to develop a new campus Cultural Center and a Teaching Fellows Project aimed to attract educators from diverse backgrounds.

Both projects, included in a total of $1 million in investments approved and funded by the Westminster College Board of Trustees during a regularly scheduled board meeting earlier this month, support the College’s Student Engagement and Support in the Diversity, 股本, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Action Plan which aims to build a campus culture that values and advances DEI efforts.

The Cultural Center will be centrally located in the former campus gift shop, a highly visible site on the main level of McKelvey Campus Center, and will offer programming, study and lounge space intended to provide a safe and collaborative space for the campus community. The office for the Westminster College Assistant Director for Diversity and Inclusion will also be housed in the center.

“The investment in creating of a Cultural Center is a significant step forward in becoming increasingly deliberate about centering and affirming minoritized identities,” Candace Okello, associate dean of student affairs. “Current and prospective students, families and employees will see that Westminster is becoming an inclusive excellence institution–one that is consistently reflective about the impact and effectiveness of their policies and practices, and how campus community members are experiencing its culture.”

Through the Teaching Fellows Project, Westminster hopes to attract post-doctoral candidates from historically minoritized groups who can bring underrepresented perspectives and experiences to Westminster’s academic programs.

“Underrepresentation among college faculty members has a number of disadvantages, namely that students and curricula do not benefit from the experiences that minoritized individuals would bring to teaching and scholarship,” Dr. Jamie McMinn, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College.

Under the project, two full-time fellows will receive two-year appointments, giving them the opportunity to further develop their teaching skills and continue pursuing research projects in collaboration with Westminster students. Fellows will also be encouraged to offer guest lectures in different courses or for the community and represent Westminster by presenting at national conferences.

Additionally, Fellows will be expected to contribute to the College’s First-Year Program and therefore will join in an important part of students’ earliest academic experiences at Westminster, as well as be mentored by the College’s faculty.

“The Teaching Fellows Project will allow students to learn from instructors who may have cultural experiences that differ from their own, and it will give students who identify with the same historically minoritized groups the opportunity to learn from instructors with similar experiences,” McMinn.

The Cultural Center will be developed over the 2022 summer and be completed in time for the fall semester. Teaching Fellows are expected to be in place for the 2023-2024 academic year.