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Committee reports lack of diversity at Calvin

Photo by Leah Jonker
Photo by Leah Jonker

The Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) reported that although Calvin’s student body has become more diverse, the number of faculty and staff of color has decreased.

No faculty of color have ever retired from Calvin and few have been tenured.

“We have to do better,” said Michelle Loyd-Paige, dean for multicultural affairs. “Recruitment and retention is identified as a goal within the new strategic plan that the board of trustees will review next week. It has a higher profile now. There are more people working on what can we do.”

The MAC report also said “a lack of opportunities for growth or advancement is often reported by staff in exit interviews,” which may lead to the lack of retention.

“It should be noted that few faculty of color … have been at Calvin for more than ten years,” the MAC report said. “Additionally, the lack of longevity among faculty of color disqualifies many faculty of color from serving in faculty senate and other key committees.”

This decrease may have an effect on retention rates (students returning fall semester sophomore year) of African-, Hispanic-, Asian- and Native- American (AHANA) students. The AHANA retention rate is lower than non-AHANA students.

Along with financial and academic counseling, Loyd-Paige said that faculty and staff of color are integral in making a welcoming environment for students of color.

“The best way to increase student of color retention is to increase the number and retention of faculty and staff of color,” Loyd-Paige said. “If the faculty and staff of color’s experience is healthy, then the experience of our students of color will be healthy.”

The MAC report also said that at a diversity meeting, in which members voted for the strongest aspects of Calvin College, President Le Roy’s leadership commitment to diversity was voted highest.

“For an institution to do well on diversity efforts you need strong senior leadership,” Loyd-Paige said. “That’s something that he has demonstrated with public talks about diversity issues and his desire to go farther in this.”

Loyd-Paige said that one of the ways he has gone farther was to hire a diversity consultant.

Loyd-Paige also said that Calvin College was part of a larger effort in the Christian Reformed Church to pay attention to diversity and equal opportunity.

“The denomination itself is going to be paying attention to recruitment,” Loyd-Paige said, “especially at the leadership level. The CRC agency, Calvin College and the Calvin Theological Seminary all need to report on their efforts and to have recruitment and diversity goals as part of their strategic plan.”

Loyd-Paige said that she was hopeful because more institutions than Calvin College were involved.

“When we are looking at the MAC report,” Loyd-Paige said, “there is this synergy because it’s not just what Calvin College is doing, but it’s also the denomination that is going in this direction.”

About the Author

Ben Rietema

Ben Rietema is a Chimes on-call writer for the 2013-14 school year. Being from Boulder, CO, I have in my possession Birkenstocks, long hair, and use the adjective “tight” quite a bit. I enjoy what some might call an over fondness for carrots that gives me eyesight that can pierce through walls, and apparently, I like reading because I’m an English major.

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