Advancing DEIJ Initiatives through Engage

Assistant Vice President Winston Roberts Winston Roberts, Assistant VP for Student Services.

On June 16, Vice President Monica Burnette interviewed Assistant Vice President Winston Roberts on his national appointment as a Fellow in the EAB Rising Higher Education Leaders Program.

Congratulations on participating in the EAB Rising Higher Education Leaders Program! Tell us more about yourself.

I currently serve as the Assistant Vice President for Student Services. I oversee the offices of Business Affairs and Student Engagement on our South Orange and Nutley campus, that include Student Leadership, New Student Programs, and Student Activities. I also serve as an advisor to Black Men of Standard and helped create the African American / Black male initiative – BLACK (Brothers, Living and Ascending through Community and Knowledge). I sit as a member of the University Athletic Council and Seeds of Innovation Implementation and Coordination Committee. I stay active in the campus community by coaching the women’s club volleyball team.

Before Seton Hall University, I worked at SUNY Albany as an Apartment Coordinator in the Department of Residential Life, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Communication and a master’s degree in Educational Administration and Policy Studies. I am also a doctoral candidate at Seton Hall University in the Education Leadership, Management, and Policy program.

Tell us more about the EAB Rising Higher Education Leaders Program.

I was nominated to participate in the EAB Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship program this past spring semester. EAB is a technology and research company that provides several services at Seton Hall, including Compass. The fellowship program is designed to help support EAB partner institutions as they address today’s biggest challenges on our college and university campuses. Through a series of workshops over six months, I was introduced to resources to help shape a capstone project that would culminate the fellowship.

Describe your capstone project and its ties to our University’s Strategic Plan.

My capstone project focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ), or Goal 4 of our University’s Strategic Plan, Harvest our Treasures. The focus of Goal 4 aims to cultivate and nurture a trusting and collaborative Seton Hall community that educates and empowers all its members to advance equity, inclusion, and social justice on campus and in the wider world. Within that goal, the hope is to develop “diversity, global and intercultural fluency” opportunities for students to earn credits or digital “badges” and a certificate for pre-approved DEI activities and training opportunities inside and outside the classroom.

Why did you choose this topic?

For years, researchers and policymakers have been discussing the shift in racial and ethnic demographics in the US The demographic change can also be seen with the increased population of black and brown students attending higher education institutions. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment rates for several minority groups (specifically Black, Hispanic, Asian, and those who identify as two or more races) have increased over the past few decades. This story is no different at Seton Hall, as more than 40 percent of the student body identify as students of color.

This focus on DEIJ initiatives has provided the impetus for various areas on our campus to step up and engage our campus community through education. In opening the door for these opportunities, we need to do more than simply offer the programs and events. We must learn how to help our students access and actively engage in these opportunities.

How can we make DEIJ initiatives more accessible to our campus community, specifically students?

Through collaboration and support from our VP for Student Services (Dr. Monica Burnette), Assistant Vice President / Dean of Campus Inclusion & Community (Dean Majid Whitney), and Director of New Student Programs (Ms. Daria Allen), we are working on the creation of a DEIJ Pathway using Engage. Engage is an involvement platform that connects students to clubs and organizations and other engagement opportunities on campus. Using Engage, we will centralize these DEIJ offerings, incentivize student participation, and assess the programs that will be part of the pathways. These pathways will include existing resources found on the DEI website, including anti-racism training and University Library resources like books and documentaries. We hope these pathways will become a space where students can engage in DEIJ education from various thought partners across campus and enhance their student experience at Seton Hall. We hope to develop a framework for the Engage platform by fall 2022.

How can we learn more about this initiative and program?

Our partners at EAB have developed a robust resource center that brings together a vast library of best practice DEIJ research, tools, and insights dedicated to “helping college and university leaders cultivate diversity, foster inclusion, promote equity, and fight for justice for their students , faculty, staff, and communities. ” All Seton Hall community members have access to this free resource. To sign up for a free account, use your SHU email address at eab.com. I also wrote a blog post on “Developing Tools to Support Campus DEIJ Initiatives,” which will be posted on EAB’s website shortly. For more information about DEIJ efforts, please email [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: