|Having a diverse campus is a primary value of Transylvania University. The articles in this special section look at some of the initiatives and people who are having an impact in many areas, including racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity. Future articles in this series will explore four additional primary values of Transylvania: globalization, sustainability, technology, and community involvement.|
by William A. Bowden and Tyler Young
Nino-Moreno uses global experience to promote understanding
Eduardo Nino-Moreno chuckles when you ask where he’s from.
The Uruguayan citizen, born in Colombia, married a woman from Panama after she graduated from a Mexican university. Holding an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and a graduate degree from Cornell University, he worked for the United Nations for almost three decades, working in 14 countries and carrying out missions in many more.
Now Nino-Moreno brings his impressive resumé to Transylvania, where he became the university’s first director of campus diversity and inclusion September 5. He was working for the UN on a consulting basis and wanted to find a place where he could use his background in diversity and global relations. After several months of research, he sent in just one application.
“I was looking for a challenge—not a job,” Nino-Moreno said. “There were around 17 positions dealing with diversity available. I researched them, went to websites, asked friends, and decided that this was my application. The challenge was that for the first time in its long existence, Transylvania created an office to deal with issues that are so dear to me.”
Nino-Moreno works with all areas of Transylvania to promote a culture of diversity on campus, from spreading the word about the college to other countries to organizing events on campus that foster provocative discussion and better understanding of other cultures, races, religions, disabilities, and anything else that can allow a person to see the world from a different viewpoint. Diversity in an academic setting is crucial to helping students become the most well-rounded citizens possible.
“Diversity and inclusion are issues you cannot escape from—they are present wherever you go and in whatever you do,” Nino-Moreno said. “I learned through my years of international service that the more diverse the teams I work with, the better the results in the end. That gave me a fantastic perspective. I feel as if I have prepared for this particular job all my life.”
Although he has been on campus just a short time, Nino-Moreno has done a lot of listening and has identified areas Transylvania can capitalize on now as well as in the long term. But he is quick to note that while his job is to stimulate and facilitate diverse discussion on campus, everybody must pitch in for a culture to change.
“We should all become recruitment officers,” he said. “It’s not only the admissions office—we can all participate. Connection doesn’t cost anything; conversation doesn’t cost anything; kindness doesn’t cost anything. Those three things go a long way toward creating a climate of inclusion.”
While Nino-Moreno saw Transylvania as a challenge, he is greatly encouraged by what he has already seen. He noted Transylvania has lots of assets that will be paramount to the success of diversity on campus. He gave as an example a story of when he was carrying personal items into his office on a rainy day, and a poster of Martin Luther King Jr. he has taken all over the world with him began to slip out of his hands. A student came over to offer a hand, helped him carry his things inside, and stayed to talk with him.
“Look at Transylvania,” he said. “I was totally different, and he helped me. That illustrates the spirit I’ve found here. You cannot imagine the long list of people who have offered their help.”
Nino-Moreno praised the commitment to diversity he sees from the administration, and he said he has heard concerns and encouragement from faculty, staff, students, and alumni, showing him that this is a place ready to move forward.
“We are not starting from scratch—there are many things that have already been started,” he said. “Transylvania has done a lot of things since 2007 when I started to review the literature. The Diversity Action Council has produced excellent results. I remember reading one of President Williams’s first newspaper interviews, and I think he is very committed.”
Nino-Moreno has met with community leaders, forming a two-way relationship that he hopes to use in the future to benefit both Transylvania and Lexington. He has met with students in the Alternative Winter Break program, which is traveling to the Dominican Republic this year, and he is setting up a meeting with Dominican officials so the students can tell them about Transylvania. He plans to hold a town hall meeting and conduct a campus-wide survey on diversity, set up an interactive diversity website, and create a “diversity nook” in Old Morrison where anyone can come and engage in conversations and ask questions about diversity on campus and off. His office will sponsor workshops on delicate subjects and address the issues of social justice and power and privilege. Those are just baseline projects that will get the ball rolling on transforming the campus culture, which he says is so important for students to experience now.
“I have heard college students say they are sometimes afraid to talk to people who don’t look like them or think like them,” he said. “But you have to take risks, take advantage of this huge privilege of being here. Four years is just a whisper.
“We as a campus can promote understanding. The idea is to have as much difference as possible, until difference doesn’t make any more difference.”
• • •
Bingham is excited about the future of diversity at Transylvania
Vince Bingham ’98, Transylvania’s coordinator of multicultural affairs, has worked for the past 10 years to spread the discussion about diversity and inclusion around campus. He has scheduled presenters, raised awareness about multicultural events, and advised campus diversity groups while cultivating relationships with outside diversity groups in Lexington and elsewhere.
There’s a lot for Bingham to be proud of over the decade, and now the reinforcements have arrived in the form of new staff and a renewed vigor on campus for the spirit of diversity. His job description is not changing, but Bingham now has a team of people to discuss ideas with and help with programming. And he could not be more excited.
“If you’d asked me a year ago what Transylvania needed as far as diversity staff, I would have said they needed someone in admissions, and we need another person in administration,” he said. “Now I can honestly say we’re doing it. We’re getting it. Now we get to put these people together and make a plan. Jonah (Brown, assistant director of admissions and multicultural recruitment) is going to be great in admissions, and Eduardo (Nino-Moreno, director of campus diversity and inclusion) is monumental to Transylvania—he’s definitely going to bring something we haven’t seen before.”
Bingham’s position serves as support and leadership for diversity groups and initiatives. His four main duties are advising, educating, training, and outreach. He advises the Diversity Action Council, TUnity, Black Student Alliance, and other groups on campus, ensuring that they have the support they need. He puts together events on campus for celebrations such as Free Trade Week, Women’s History Month, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He trains campus groups, including student orientation leaders, resident advisers, and department of public safety officers, on inclusion issues. And he is involved with organizations like Urban League of Lexington, the YMCA, and Black Achievers.
Through those roles, he gets a good read on the pulse of campus and the students, and he has seen a great improvement in the level of awareness and interest among Transylvania students since he arrived in 2001.
“Students are becoming more inquisitive about diversity issues,” he said. “That speaks to a new generation of students that isn’t accepting the way things are. When I make presentations, they come question me—‘Why is this?’ At one time you didn’t have that. The students have taken charge, and they’re starting to fully embrace how diversity plays into the liberal arts culture.”
Faculty and staff also play a big part in promoting inclusion, and Bingham sees growth in that area as well. He noted as an example head men’s basketball coach Brian Lane ’90 taking his players to a march downtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“That’s something that’s never been done before,” Bingham said. “But to me, that’s awesome. People are making an effort, and the little things mean a lot.”
Bingham said the Transylvania community can expect a significant increase in the amount of programs offered both for diversity awareness and for minority students. Bringing more recognizable figures to campus to hold lectures or panels encourages more people to attend those events and get involved, and he intends to improve those offerings, as well.
“It increases the learning environment,” he said. “You’re not going to get anywhere trying to solve increasingly complex problems with a group of one-track-minded people. Diversity is a commitment to academic integrity.”
• • •
DAC students step up to promote appreciation for culture
As important as it is for diversity and inclusion to be discussed and encouraged by faculty and staff, Transylvania students must take charge and be leaders in promoting those values for them to be successful.
The Diversity Action Council is leading the way in that charge. Created to plan events and campaigns on campus, the council is made up of students who strive to provide opportunities to learn about other cultures and lifestyles on campus. It also oversees three other diversity organizations—TUnity, which seeks to unify Transylvania’s gay and straight communities; Black Student Alliance, an African American student leadership group; and VOICE, a new feminist organization.
This year’s Diversity Action Council is bringing back many programs that have been successful in the past, including Diversity Dialogues, a program where professors give lectures on diversity issues outside their academic fields, and Diversity Week, which promotes international studies.
“Our goal this year is to increase student awareness and student participation and membership in the organizations we’re involved with,” said Quanta Taylor ’12, student coordinator of diversity. “We’ve had a lot of success the last couple of years with the programs we’re bringing back.”
Plans are underway for several new events, such as a Privilege Dinner, which seeks to visually represent socio-economic status in terms of world hunger.
“Say you have 100 people come, 75 of them will eat rice and water for dinner,” Taylor said. “Twenty will have a normal plate dinner, and six will have steak for dinner.”
The council is planning Cultural Awareness Week, seeking to bring cultural groups to campus like Step Afrika, a dance group from Washington, D.C., that specializes in step dancing.
It also plugs itself into the Lexington community, working with organizations like Black Achievers to go into schools and help students with college applications, essay writing, and projects in their classes. Vince Bingham ’98, Transylvania’s coordinator of multicultural affairs, advises the groups, helping them with service and learning opportunities locally.
“Vince has done a great job in linking us to outside organizations—bringing them to campus and taking us to them as well,” Taylor said
All of the planning and programming work together to further the discussion of diversity on campus, a purpose that Taylor says equips Transylvania students with an appreciation of culture that will greatly benefit them in their personal and professional lives.
“When we talk about these issues—not necessarily race, but gender issues, veteran status, socioeconomic status—those are issues that hit everyone in some way, shape, or form,” he said. “Big-time programming is a recruiting tool. That makes Transylvania desirable. I think for Transylvania’s goal of focusing on creating a new level of civic engagement, increasing discussion and awareness of those issues will provide our students the chance to have a greater impact on the world. It makes Transylvania an important piece of a very attractive puzzle.”
• • •
Brown takes the Transylvania message on the road
To Jonah Brown, learning on a diverse campus with a variety of backgrounds and cultures isn’t a luxury for students—it’s a necessity.
Transylvania’s new assistant director of admissions and coordinator of multicultural recruitment is working to attract a more diverse population to Transylvania. His role was created to have an admissions representative dedicated to traveling around the country to tell the Transylvania story to students of varying racial, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds.
“My role is new, and we’re still shaping it as we go, but my focus is targeting ways Transylvania can do a better job of broadening our funnel of students that are interested in coming here,” he said. “We’ve been very successful in our percentages in getting interested students to commit to Transylvania—our problem has been getting students to take a look in the first place.”
That means Brown spends a lot of his time in large metropolitan areas like Chicago, Dallas, and New York City where the minority populations are substantial. Instead of a typical recruiting pitch, he is finding ways to get those students excited about Transylvania, a school many may not have heard of. One of the major selling points he’s discovered early on—particularly with guidance counselors— is the appeal of Lexington as a city where students used to big-city living could feel comfortable.
“We have growing name recognition among high school teachers and guidance counselors, and we want them to think of us as a great option for their students who are looking for a smaller, private school but in a big city,” he said. “That’s what we’re really trying to sell—if you’re a student coming from one of these larger cities, Lexington is a very realistic option for you.”
A big part of Brown’s role in those cities is changing the perception of Transylvania and other small, private schools as places for rich, white students. While that’s an unfair assessment, his job is to show that minority students can get the best impact for their money from Transylvania, through scholarship opportunities, financial aid, and Transylvania’s reputation for a high rate of students graduating in four years and going directly to graduate school or the work force.
“We’re trying to explain to students the value of Transylvania—that you’re going to get more out of it as a long-term investment,” Brown said. “It’s very easy to look at some of the larger schools that are offering more money. Turning down that money when you’re 17 or 18 years old can be difficult. That doesn’t apply only to students of color, but it’s a hurdle we’ll be facing in the African American and Latino communities.”
Brown, who is from Richmond, Ky., has a strong background in presenting compelling arguments. He came to Transylvania from the Fayette County Circuit Court, where he was a staff attorney for Judge James D. Ishmael. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky and a J.D. from the UK College of Law, and he was student government president and a UK ambassador, recruiting and representing UK at functions.
“I felt like my experience as a very involved student who tried to take advantage of everything college had to offer would make me effective at selling the college experience,” he said. “Transylvania has a lot to offer, and it’s a great opportunity for me to continue that work.”
One of his most memorable experiences was his summer in the Governor’s Scholars program during high school, where he first got to meet students from other parts of Kentucky. Learning from his peers what life was like in western Kentucky, eastern Kentucky, Louisville, and other regions made a big impact on how he views learning.
“College isn’t just the faculty we have here or the classes we have set up—it’s the students providing experiences for each other and with each other,” he said. “And we need to provide an environment where students can share and learn from each other and grow.”
• • •
Wheeler deepens her understanding of civil rights at NEH summer institute
|Education professor Tiffany Wheeler ’90 is pictured with Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy, who presented a Kenan Lecture titled “Can We Talk? Problems in Race and Conversation” in Haggin Auditorium February 16, 2011.|
Education professor Tiffany Wheeler ’90 thought she had a pretty good understanding of the civil rights struggles of African Americans, and then she attended a 2011 summer institute at Harvard University on the subject.
“It certainly expanded my understanding of the civil rights era, to include much more than what we think we know from the 1950s and ’60s movements,” Wheeler said.
Before high-profile 1960s groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Freedom Riders got their start, there was the Southern Negro Youth Congress, founded in the 1930s. And long before that, civil rights issues were being confronted well back into the nineteenth century.
The title of the institute—“African American Struggles for Freedom and Civil Rights, 1865-1965”—aptly sums up the scope of the four-week academic exercise, which was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College Teachers and by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard.
Wheeler was one of 25 professors chosen for the prestigious four-week residential institute from among more than 100 applicants nationwide. The purpose of the program is to train professors on how to integrate more black history in their classrooms and research projects.
The institute’s curriculum began with the early civil rights efforts that took place in the years just after the end of the Civil War. Coincidentally, this time period was included in Transylvania President R. Owen Williams’s doctoral dissertation at Yale University titled “Unequal Justice Under the Law: The Supreme Court and the First Civil Rights Movement, 1857-1883.” Historian Eric Foner, author of A Short History of Reconstruction, among other books, was on the institute’s faculty as well as Williams’s dissertation committee.
“Eric Foner was but one example of the brilliant historians and scholars who were our teachers,” Wheeler said. “There were also a number of people taking part in the institute who were involved with civil rights movements in the twentieth century, and it was thrilling to have personal contact with them.”
Prominent among those people was Esther Cooper Jackson, a 94-year-old activist whose mother was president of the Virginia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Jackson was friends with intellectuals and activists such as author W.E.B. Du Bois, concert singer and actor Paul Robeson, and author Langston Hughes. With Du Bois and his wife, Shirley Graham, Jackson edited Freedomways, a cultural and literary journal that ran from 1961-85.
Wheeler also had the opportunity to meet Robert Moses, who was prominent in the SNCC, and Martha Norman Noonan, an editor of Hands on the Freedom Plow, which published first-person accounts from women involved in the SNCC.
Wheeler said the most immediate application of what she took from the institute will be an enrichment of her course Race, Ethnicity, and Social Class in American Education.
“We study the civil rights movement in that course, but now I’ll be adding a lot of understanding to that subject, especially what preceded the movements of the 1950s and ’60s,” she said.
“Another course, Schooling in American Culture, looks at marginalized groups like African Americans and Asian Americans. The Harvard experience will help me explain how these historical problems can still affect my students as teachers today.”
Wheeler would also like to see an African American Studies minor created at Transylvania, along with a course on the history of African American education. The summer institute gave her excellent background for those projects.
“Being at Harvard this past summer among all those scholars and social activists has given me new direction for both my teaching and my personal scholarship, plus my sense of activism as a community citizen,” Wheeler said. “It was one of the most beneficial experiences I’ve ever had, personally and academically.”
• • •
Intellectual engagement with differing views is fundamental to creating a truly diverse campus
As Transylvania works to create a more diverse university in all respects, Kathleen Jagger imagines a time when the subject will no longer require the kind of conversations and initiatives that are now taking place on campus.
“If we work hard to create a mindset of curiosity about other ways of viewing the world and make sure that perspective is infused throughout the curriculum and throughout every student’s experience here, we should reach a point where we don’t even talk about diversity anymore because it’s everywhere,” said Jagger, associate vice president and associate dean of the college.
That intellectual engagement with the myriad of differing views of the world is the true meaning of diversity, Jagger believes. Such a state goes far beyond the visible signs of having students, faculty, and staff members of various races and ethnicities, or observing events such as Women’s History Month.
“Even when we reach the point of having a very representative campus community, we can’t be satisfied,” Jagger said. “We have to look much more deeply than appearances. We have to look for the depth every person has to offer, the talents every person has to offer. Our conclusions should be based on our interactions with individuals, not on assumptions based on superficial information about where they are from or what they look like. I think it’s a constant struggle to keep your mind open to others’ points of view.”
As she works to bring about a more diverse faculty, which is one of the areas of involvement she is focusing on, Jagger sees many other initiatives as having significant impacts on diversity. The single most important happening, she feels, is the appointment of Eduardo Nino-Moreno as director of campus diversity and inclusion. (See page 12.)
“Eduardo’s office will be the catalyst for continuing change in every single area of campus,” she said. “He was brought to Transylvania as a change agent, as someone who will foster the discussions that need to happen, connect the people who need to be working together. He has done this at the global level, with his 27 years of experience working with the United Nations.”
Jagger also pointed to the addition of Nancy Jo Kemper ’64 to the staff as interim associate dean of interreligious life for the 2011-12 academic year. Kemper, former executive director and spokeswoman for the Kentucky Council of Churches, is charged with creating an interfaith dialogue on campus that will explore the history and practices of many religious traditions.
“I see a lot of strengths in things that are happening right now, including recent speakers like Randall Kennedy and Harriet Washington,” Jagger said. Kennedy, a Harvard University law professor, delivered a Kenan lecture on the history of nomenclature related to Americans of African descent, while author Harriet Washington addressed convocation this fall on medical injustices perpetuated on African Americans. (See page 6.)
Other groups and committees are addressing the need for more international students, changes and additions to the curriculum to reflect a more diverse spectrum of course content, and aspects of student life that can be educational vehicles for diversity enlightenment.
“From an academic point of view, we have a ways to go to really infuse diversity into the curriculum,” Jagger said. “We need to have more courses on the African American experience or the Hispanic American experience if we expect to attract those students.”
In the end, Jagger believes creating a true culture of diversity is the responsibility of all Transylvania campus citizens.
“When we reach the ideal environment in terms of diversity and inclusion, we will have developed a genuine interest in, and curiosity about, every student, every faculty member, every employee, and work to be supportive of all of them. No one should ever feel marginalized or excluded in any way.”
• • •
Admissions identifies strategies to reach underrepresented students
A significant portion of Transylvania’s new Strategic Enrollment Plan is dedicated to reaching minority students to offer them a Transylvania education and enhance the level of multiculturalism on campus. Taking the Transylvania story to a larger number of students in diverse populations and thus widening the enrollment umbrella is an overall theme of the plan.
“Transylvania has always done a good job of getting students to apply once they learn about the college,” said Brad Goan, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions. “The problem has been reaching those students to be able to tell them our story.”
One strategy already underway involves working with community-based organizations, schools, and school districts that serve a large number of students from underrepresented demographics. Transylvania is partnering with those organizations to offer faculty presentations on topics the students are interested in and send admissions staff to do programs about the college search process. In return, the staff and students from those organizations will be able to come to campus, take tours, and meet students, faculty, and staff.
“We’ve tended to work with individual schools and individual students, but we’ve not really gotten in the game with, particularly, community-based organizations,” Goan said. “That’s going to be a big part of the Strategic Enrollment Plan moving forward.”
Goan, director for campus diversity and inclusion Eduardo Nino-Moreno, and assistant director for multicultural recruitment Jonah Brown have identified several groups to partner with and are working to find more.
“Our hope is, if we develop relationships with 15 or 20 of these organizations, and we’re visiting them on an annual basis, we’ll build these relationships, and students will be aware of Transylvania and apply and come,” Goan said.
As a bonus, Transylvania will provide scholarships for students who choose to attend Transylvania and have been full participants in these organizations or students in the school districts.
Transylvania is also enhancing international recruitment, which will bring more students from minority populations, and making bigger pushes in larger urban markets, such as Chicago and New York City. Associate director of admissions Ingrid Allen ’89 is doing a lot of the work in international markets, and Brown, who started at Transylvania over the summer, is working in the urban markets. In both of those areas, the staff explains to the students, many of whom come from poor financial backgrounds, that Transylvania can be an affordable choice for them.
“Among underrepresented populations, there is a perception that private higher education is not affordable,” Goan said. “So part of our reason for working through community-based college preparatory organizations is to be able to have an audience where we can say, this is a possibility for you. Maybe it’s Transylvania, or maybe it’s somewhere else, but don’t just dismiss it because you see this sticker price. Rather, let’s move through the process.” nng a diverse campus is a primary value of Transylvania University. The articles in this special section look at some of the initiatives and people who are having an impact in many areas, including racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity. Future articles in this series will explore four additional primary values of Transylvania: globalization, sustainability, technology, and community involvement.