The first Inclusive Excellence Institute cohort recently graduated, 22 faculty and staff from across the university.
The UofSC Inclusive Excellence Institute program is designed to help individuals and teams deepen their knowledge and understanding of leveraging diversity, equity and inclusion through education and lived experiences.
“Through this experience, I have developed a mindset that is more attuned to picking up inequities in systems, unfair assumptions I make and see groups I am a part of make, and the biases that exist all around us,” said Alisa Liggett, executive director of student conduct and academic integrity.
Working to stunt or reverse those must be a daily commitment.
The semester-long program covers many different areas ranging from university history to psychological safety, timely social matters of issues of identity, best practices for handling controversy and microagressions, creating environments where others feel welcomed and supported and embracing cultural diversity.
“Our faculty and staff are a direct reflection of who we are as a university,” said Julian R. Williams, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion. “Our hope is that the Inclusive Excellence Institute participants gain skills which will benefit them personally and professionally while helping the university move forward with our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
The Inclusive Excellence Institute seeks to cultivate workspaces where all voices are heard and all people are valued. It also provides opportunities for participants to reflect on their own identities and privileges particularly related to equity and access while encouraging participants to ask questions and most critically interrupt divisive systems.
“This experience has made me more confident to advocate for more fair practices in my community and workplace,” said Yolonda Hannah, director of finance and human resources, South Carolina Honors College. “I am taking away techniques I can apply in my personal and professional life.”
Research shows that diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace environments produce better outcomes. It’s a way to enhance people’s’ capabilities and increase creativity and innovation.
“Building and retaining diverse teams is critical,” Williams said. “It enables us to acknowledge the skills and differences each team member brings, provides the university an opportunity to foster belonging and be leaders in and out of the classroom.”
The inaugural cohort included:
- Mohammaed Baalousha, Arnold School of Public Health
- Estafania Basurto, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sports Management
- Casey Carrol, Office of Provost
- Rose Cisneros, College of Arts and Sciences
- Kehsa Clavon, Graduate School
- Emily Davis, South Carolina Honors College
- Jamal Davis, Moore School of Business
- Ryan Dawkins, South Carolina Honors College
- Karen Edwards, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sports Management
- Melissa Gilbert, Division of Student Affairs
- Yolonda Hannah, South Carolina Honors College
- Beverly Johnson, College of Pharmacy
- Simone Keller, UofSC Alumni Association
- Deborah Kinnard, Arnold School of Public Health
- Bill Knapp, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sports Management
- Alisa Liggett, Division of Student Affairs
- Nicole Montgomery, Division of Student Affairs
- Caleb Morris, Office of the Provost
- Shantia Muller, College of Education
- Zo Sediqi, College of Education
- Megan Stanley, College of Arts and Science
- Zachary Winklemann, Arnold School of Public Health