College of Arts and Media dean candidate Jeff Ward discusses diversity and university experience


Jeff Ward discussed the importance of diversity and his focus on inclusion for the upcoming strategic plan during a forum in the ongoing search for Central Michigan University's College of Arts and Media dean.

Ward spoke in front of faculty and students on Dec. 3 at the Music Building's Staples Family Concert Hall in the last forum for candidates. 

“(We need to invest) in both individual conversations and conversations with groups to be able to learn what makes this place unique.”

Ward joined Kansas State University in 2016 as the director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. He is also a professor of music education. Prior to KSU, Ward served as an associate dean in the College of Fine Arts and Communication at East Carolina University and as an associate director of choral activities.

While discussing diversity and inclusion, Ward focused on the community learning about issues together.

“In order to be able to understand and empathize with experiences that we might not have personally experienced, we have to be humble enough to know that we have a lot to learn.”

Having a close and active community is part of the strategic plan, as well as having an emphasis on growing together. Faculty and students are rooted in the strategic plan as well. 

“The university is (the students) gateway to explore the world,” Ward said.

Ward went on to praise CMU’s big university experience while also having a small enough community that students feel like they are getting one-on-one attention.

Strategically, Ward said that in his first 100 days he would lay the groundwork for growth and stressed the importance of listening.

“We aren’t going to get this right the first time," Ward said. "We are likely going to do something or say something that someone is going to come back and say, ‘you know what, this is why you shouldn’t say this.’ We need to give each other grace as we learn together, because if we were doing it perfectly, we wouldn’t have to have this discussion.”