50 Years of Effort to Move A Campus Culture
Kevin Hannahoe '07 was serving as academic liaison for the Student Government Association (SGA) in the 2004-05 academic year when he submitted a petition on behalf of the association to make the study of diversity a curriculum requirement. The Reading, Pa., native, then a sophomore, met with Provost and Dean of the Faculty Linda McMillin to explain the students' concerns.
Hannahoe and many of his peers had been involved in service-learning trips and other activities that exposed them to people with life experiences totally different from their own. Recognizing the impact of these experiences, the SGA wanted a requirement that would ensure all students had access to such opportunities.
Driven in part by the students' vision and the SGA's request, an introductory course on diversity, a diversity intensive and a study-away experience are all requirements of the university's central, or core, curriculum implemented in 2009. The introductory course focuses on identity, power and privilege and how they operate in society. The intensive allows students to see how these dynamics play out in their chosen fields of study. The off-campus study experience, offered through the university's Global Opportunities (GO) program, introduces students to new perspectives by requiring them to live in a culture other than their own, in the U.S. or abroad.
The curricular requirements represent another significant milestone made by the university to create a diverse and inclusive campus culture, one committed to increasing the cultural competency of all students, faculty and staff, McMillin says.
McMillin, who came to the campus 25 years ago from the diverse UCLA campus where she earned her doctorate degree, has helped Susquehanna grow its numbers of students of color and international students.
Moreover, she's worked to build an infrastructure to support them and embed the study of diversity in the curriculum.
But the progress is part of a continuum that stems from seeds of change sown much earlier.