Q & A
Lisa Scott - Chief Diversity Officer
President L. Jay Lemons committed to hiring a chief diversity officer this year to advise him on policy issues related to diversity and inclusion at Susquehanna University, a decision widely supported by the campus community. Lisa Scott began serving as special assistant to the president for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer on July 1. Earlier this year, Susquehanna Currents interviewed her as she was completing her tenure as director of institutional equity and diversity at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.
SC: What matters will be of primary concern to you as chief diversity officer?
LS: My “first 100 days” will be focused on assessing the diversity work at Susquehanna University to date. I am interested in looking across the university and understanding the depth and breadth of diversity initiatives. In other words, how broad, how deep and how impactful have the outcomes of these initiatives been?
SC: How can students, faculty and staff at Susquehanna work toward creating a more welcoming and diverse campus, both short term and long term?
LS: I like to talk about “community.” Writer and social activist Bell Hooks once stated: “Community is made; it doesn’t happen automatically.” Efforts to create a welcoming community for all who work, learn and live at Susquehanna University, as well as the surrounding community, require both individual and collective will. They require persistent consciousness of the lived experiences of others—in particular, those not like oneself.
SC: In your opinion, what does the appointment of a chief diversity officer at the presidential cabinet level say about SU’s commitment to becoming a more diverse and welcoming place?
LS: It says that we have taken the next step. It reflects the intent to move diversity and related issues from the margins to the center.
SC: What is most important for SU community members to be aware of as we take this next step toward a fuller, more diverse and welcoming campus?
LS: Every campus is a unique community. No two are the same. Diversity work is conducted in the context of the local and broader environment that it is situated in. It will also be good for us to be reminded that diversity is inherent to academic excellence. It is not marginal, but integral. Effective diversity work must be sustained for significant periods of time. It requires patience and commitment. It requires letting go of preconceived ideas and opinions. Diversity work requires all of us to first look inward, not outward, for the answers. Tolerance is not the goal of diversity. Lastly, a truly multicultural community is not the responsibility of one person or department. Rather, it is the responsibility of all of us who live, learn and work together.
Contributing writers to The ‘Grove are Robert Edward Healy III, Victoria Kidd and Billie Tadros ’10.