Diversity director candidate Theodore Ransaw said Tuesday at an open forum flexibility and awareness would be his main objectives if hired by Central Michigan University.
Ransaw, one of three candidates for the position, received his doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He gave a PowerPoint presentation addressing the strengths and weaknesses of educational diversity at CMU.
“Diversity is a subject that is always changing,” he said. “Many people look at diversity as a sandcastle — something that is there, but not permanent by any means. My goal is to aim toward making diversity more like a fortress — something solidified, yet still open to change and flexibility.”
Ransaw said the first step in approaching diversity at the institutional level is to collect data across the university in order to identify gaps and formulate a plan to address those needs. Some of these issues include addressing assumptions such as ‘white privilege,’ and making sure minority students are aware of and have access to all of the resources other students have at their disposal.
Ransaw said the central focus of his approach is how to make diversity approachable and visible. This could mean various things, like applying for loans, scholarships and academic colleges for minority students.
“There are many privileges that non-minority students have, and many minority students don’t even know such resources exist, such as having a professor proofread a term paper, for example,” he said. “Once we get a perception of what students need, we can adjust our programming to fit the needs of those students.”
Ransaw is a big supporter in the idea of mentorship, and suggested the implementation of a logic model, which mentorship would play a huge role in.
“The goal of this model is to make diversity a part of the CMU brand,” he said.
What this would mean for students is the implementation of peer mentorship into freshman orientation.
Ransaw referenced a similar program at Harvard University, which pairs each freshman with a senior during their orientation in order to get them accustomed to campus and connected with the university.
In addition, Ransaw proposes a basic skills class for all new students that will be environmentally inclusive, where new students are paired with mentors and gives them ‘hidden knowledge’ that many minority students aren’t aware of.
Ransaw hopes to develop the Office of Diversity Education’s website in an effort to make tips, videos and important dates of seminars and workshops readily accessible for all students.
“The biggest challenge the Office of Diversity Education faces is keeping up with the changing times, and making sure our office is up to date with the latest technology, making as many resources as possible available for our students,” he said.
David Smith held an open forum Tuesday, and the forum for the final candidate, Dr. Velecia Humes, will be held from 11 to 12 p.m. in the Strosacker room of Charles V. Park Library on Monday.