Ask 10 people for a definition of diversity and you may get ten different answers. When values and concepts are difficult to define, measuring them can be elusive. At a recent B1G, PAC10, BIG12 union and activities directors conference, Marsha Herman-Betzen, the Executive Director for the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), shared the association’s recent Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) report which looked at specific indicators and made recommendations toward improving D&I efforts. The tool used was adapted from the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organizations Around the World and outlines 280 benchmarks that describe poor, medium and excellent standards.
What specific actions and strategies are your institution implementing that nurture and support an environment which values, celebrates and engages all members of the community? How does diversity improve our collective intelligence? Should institutions merely reflect our society or try to consciously shape the society? What does diverse programming look like in practice? Who needs to be brought together and what questions need to asked and answered to affect change in our organizations?
No matter the size of your institution or your place on the organization chart, we ALL have a role in advancing D&I initiatives. If not us, who? If not now, when? On this episode of SA Live, host Tony Doody interviews guests Willie Banks, Donna Lee, Elizabeth Beltramini, and Marsha Herman-Betzen as they examine the current state of diversity and inclusion within our organizations and discuss what still needs to be done to move us forward.
Do you have additional questions for our guests? Send them to #higheredlive during the show and we’ll do our best to incorporate them into the conversation.A native New Yorker, Donna A. Lee received her B.A. from the University of Tampa and her M.Ed. in Counseling from Boston University. She served in the U.S. Army for 9 years, earning the rank of Captain. She discovered her passion for higher education and her vocation as a Student Affairs professional when she accepted a position at Rollins College in 1996. Her passion for her work is fueled by the affinity she has for students and their learning. She served the Rollins College community for 12 years, In 2008, her professional journey took her to Agnes Scott College, a private liberal arts college for women, where she serves as the Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students. She is driven by the institution’s mission to educate, empower, and liberate young women as they find, raise, and place their voices in pursuit of the common good in our world. She has presented numerous workshops on topics related to diversity, leadership, organizational development, and community engagement, and she has worked with the Anti-Defamation League, the National Conference for Community and Justice, and the Human Rights Council. A proud mother, Donna receives daily inspiration from her 16 year old son, Jonathan, who continually reminds her of the importance of reflection, integrity, and authenticity.
Marsha Herman-Betzen has worked in ACUI’s Central Office for 30 years, serving the Association as the coordinator of educational programs and services and associate executive director before becoming CEO/executive director in 1994. Herman-Betzen began her college union career 35 years ago at the Oklahoma State University Student Union as the manager of conferences and scheduling and now is one of the most traveled executive directors, logging more than 1.2 million air miles. As part of this role, she acts as external spokesperson of the Association; develops, maintains, and motivates staff; and serves as secretary and treasurer of the Board of Trustees.
Elizabeth Beltramini is director of content curation for the Association of College Unions International. In this role, she serves as editor of The Bulletin, advises the Education Council, and manages curriculum development of several programs, acui.org, social media, and video production. She recently completed a diversity and inclusion benchmarking project for ACUI, which precipitated her managing the Association’s efforts in this area.
Dr. Willie L. Banks, Jr. is currently serving as the Interim Asst. VP for Student Affairs at Cleveland State University, where is charged with a variety of functional units including: Leadership & Service, Fraternity & Sorority Life, Judicial Affairs, Student Organizations, Commuter Affairs, Student Activities, Veteran’s Student Success, Women’s Center, and Student Center Programs. Additional responsibilities include division wide assessment, marketing, and staff development. Prior to joining CSU, Dr. Banks was at the University of Georgia for over 16 years in a variety of positions, including the Director of Campus Life & Tate Student Center, where he was charged with the 60.2 million renovation and expansion of the Tate Student Center.
Dr. Banks holds a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University, as well as a Master’s and Ph.D. in Student Affairs Administration from the University of Georgia. Dr. Banks’ dissertation was focused on the experiences of biracial students attending PWI’s in the south. Additionally, he co- authored a chapter on serving diverse student populations in college unions in New Directions for Student Services, No. 145 – The State of the College Union: Contemporary Issues and Trends. Professionally, Willie is a member of ACUI, ACPA, and NASPA.