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Championing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through Newly Formed DEI Committee

By Caroline Barnhill

In October, Poole College of Management announced the formation of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, charged with providing guidance to the Poole College community on best practices for creating an environment that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion throughout each department, program and initiative. The announcement comes on the heels of other Poole initiatives, such as naming Tayah Butler director of diversity and inclusion at the college and creating a Diversity and Inclusion Hub within Nelson Hall.

The committee hopes that’s just the beginning of what the college can do to champion a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the college.

“We have already invested resources into substantial culture change to be more inclusive and that narrative is spreading across campus and beyond — out to our external constituencies,” Butler says. “With a full committee of champions to marshall the sharing and celebration of progress, I imagine Poole’s brand recognition will also become intrinsically tied to the inclusive attitude we embrace. Once that happens, we will be sought after by diverse thought leaders on all fronts.”

The committee has a critical job to help Poole, as a college, create and promote a culture and environment that values and enhances equity, diversity and inclusion for our entire community –– faculty, staff and students, explains Dean Frank Buckless

To that end, we want to ensure a broad perspective of voices and perspectives are heard at all levels of the college –– and we believe this committee will play an integral role in bringing that goal to fruition.

“We recognize our college is only as strong as the diverse community that supports it,” Buckless says. “To that end, we want to ensure a broad perspective of voices and perspectives are heard at all levels of the college –– and we believe this committee will play an integral role in bringing that goal to fruition.”

The committee, which is chaired by Troy J. Pinkins, director of the college’s Supply Chain Resource Cooperative, includes four faculty members and four staff members drawn from various units and departments across the college. Committee members will work with members of the college’s leadership to create valuable programming and guidance to help the college as a whole be a welcoming place for all. 

To Buckless, these new efforts directly tie to one of the college’s strategic goals, to enhance organizational excellence by creating a culture of constant improvement, by focusing on one of its key values, a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Bev Porter, director of the career center for Jenkins Graduate Programs and DEI committee member, hopes that the important work of their committee may create a ripple effect across campus.

“I am hoping through our efforts and passions for DEI, that we –– by way of demonstration and modeling –– will infuse this spirit into the bloodstream of not only the college but also within the larger NC State community,” Porter says. “I want this to be in the very fabric of the institution because of our passion to model it well.”

Porter believes it’s a responsibility and obligation of an institution of learning to help its “think and do” global leaders become comfortable and astute in leading a diverse population of people. 

By the time our students graduate, they won’t need to learn or assimilate into a diverse environment, but they’ll walk into it with the tools, mental capacity and emphatic mindset necessary to achieve success within it.

“We have the privilege of influencing that behavior, understanding unconscious and conscious bias and demonstrating the beauty of a diverse organization,” Porter shares. “By the time our students graduate, they won’t need to learn or assimilate into a diverse environment, but they’ll walk into it with the tools, mental capacity and emphatic mindset necessary to achieve success within it.”

Fellow committee member and Poole College professor of accounting Eileen Taylor agrees and believes the committee will be successful if they are first able to increase awareness of the current inequities and systemic injustice present in the college community, and second if they are able to implement changes to reduce and eliminate these barriers to success for all Poole students and community members.

“There are several areas where we are focusing our work. We are taking a look at how staff and faculty improve their own awareness and behavior, and the college is pursuing goals of improving the representation of diverse faculty in the classroom, which will create a diverse workplace right here in the college,” she says. “Additionally, curriculum committees are surveying faculty to identify how and what they are teaching related to DEI and will be following up to set DEI-related learning objectives and assessments. Our committee plans to offer resources and make connections to resources on campus, to help faculty, staff and students improve their awareness and behavior related to DEI issues.”

Moreover, Butler sees Poole College as having the ability to make a real impact on the workplaces –– and culture –– of tomorrow.

“Some of the modern challenges that our society is coming together to solve have academic homes here in our disciplines at Poole College,” she says. “As this committee champions the exploration of new perspectives, our internal culture will become a richer place for us to work, study and research.”

Note: Poole College faculty and staff who are interested in attending or learning more about the DEI committee should contact Troy Pinkins at tjpinkin@ncsu.edu.

DEI Committee Members

Chair: Troy Pinkins

Dean’s Office Liason: Frank Buckless

Dean Members: