A new position has been added to West Texas A&M’s staff this fall. The position, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, was created with the goal to have someone representing those who may, at some times, be underrepresented. Dr. Rosemary Gray was selected for the position over the summer and said she is very excited about her new role.
“I have a passion for helping and assisting universities with diversity and inclusion,” Gray said.
With this position, Gray will create a diversity and inclusion plan that will aid in creating an inclusive environment for many different types of students. Whether they identify with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, Hispanic, African-American, Asian and all other diverse groups.
“My goal is to assist the university with the diversity committee,” Gray said. “That would include making sure that our plans are lined up with the university’s plans, which is student centered.”
Gray said her goals include having a commitment and involvement to make a difference.
“I have always accepted change,” Gray said. “The university is a global community and the literature will indicate that it [diversity] is not just going to help us in the classroom, but beyond in life. [Diversity] helps us to address culture and have shared beliefs and is important for social and cultural reasons.”
According to a statement from Gray on the new Diversity and Inclusion page on WTAMU’s website, “Academic excellence is enhanced by accepting and recognizing the differences among and within many cultural and other groups of individuals.”
The statement also explains that, “Academic excellence and personal growth can be improved within a respectful workplace and a welcoming student environment such as a public university. Public universities perform a critical role meeting the needs of not only our community but the needs within our state, region, and nation. We endorse the concept of diversity as inclusiveness that is reflected as an essential element expressed in our University core values.”
The new position is one that some students agree will help create a comfortable environment for students with a lack of a feeling of belonging.
“I think it’s a great thing, honestly, for somebody to be in that position to have incoming freshman who are different, not like what you would see in the Bible belt, have somebody to come talk to who specializes in diversity,” Korey Schroeder, president of Spectrum, said.
Spectrum is a club on campus that is “dedicated to fostering diversity and equality across campus and the community and to raise awareness while fighting misinformation concerning gender and sexual orientation issues through education,” according to their Facebook page.
“I think it will help people in the future,” Schroeder said. “I know people who have dropped out just because they had to deal with taunting and bullying. They didn’t get that advice that now these students can enjoy today with this new officer. At WT and most campuses it seems like they all have their own organizations except for the LGBT community and I’m looking forward to her maybe being able to help us let those people have a place to go.”
According to WT’s diversity and inclusion page, WTAMU is creating a University that is open to all individuals, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, life style or veteran status and they are working on a plan to put in place University-wide programs and activities that will encourage student interaction and make the campus more welcoming to students, staff and visitors.