President’s Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The President’s Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), created by President Lachance in June 2020, is committed to making Thomas College a welcoming and safe place for everyone by addressing systemic racism, discrimination, and inequality on our campus. It will complete the following tasks:

  • Review of college’s previous reports, plans and discussions around campus equity, diversity and social justice.
  • Review of current literature and best practices on how this information is used in colleges and universities.
  • Explore tradeoffs and benefits that arise from different organizational structures, responsibilities, and resource models pertaining to campus equity, diversity and social justice.
  • Development of a process that engages discussion and input from a broad spectrum of campus constituents and helps facilitate broader conversations about equity, diversity, social justice, and antiracism on campus.
  • Identification of major challenges or tasks that will be left unaddressed, or that will need further attention.

Co-chaired by Dr. Richard Biffle and Professor Judith Hansen-Childers, the council is comprised of 35 members across four working groups.

Working Groups

Establishment and support of educational programs that address diversity, social justice, racial injustice, and antiracism training through dialogues and community discussions, reading circles, symposiums, guest speakers and lecturers.

  1. Review documentation, assessment and evaluation information of how Thomas College promotes multiculturalism, cultural competency, and antiracist training throughout the campus community by delivering a variety of educational programs and services advocating for social justice and diversity
  2. Produce specific workshop designs, structured experiences, instrumentation, and resources to increase a person’s knowledge and understanding of some of the essential characteristics of persistent conflict between racial and ethnic groups.
  3. Describe the development of equity, diversity and social justice training for students, faculty, and staff that deepen their understanding of bias and racism and strengthen their commitment to creating inclusive spaces. Our community aims to move beyond simply accommodating people’s differences to instead creating spaces that are universally designed—accessible to everyone.
  4. Describe the design of sessions, workshops, projects and activities intended to expand the participants’ awareness of their own ideas and behavior, the effect these have on other people, and the way in which their own ideas and behavior can facilitate or block the achievement of individual or group objectives.

Facilitator: Jim Delorie

Task Force Members: Bernie Ouellette; Rick Saucier; Emma Hayden; Deshon Gaither; Flavia Oliveira; Diane Mutoni

Expansion of curriculum and co-curricular activities related to addressing diversity, social justice, racial inequality, racial injustice, and racism in our society.

  1. Design instructional strategies and opportunities on how multicultural and antiracist education transforms the curriculum so that faculty and students acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to become effective citizens in a pluralistic democratic society.
  2. Design instructional opportunities to further participate in a series of facilitated discussions, listening sessions, and workshops that allow us to process and share our thinking and learning.
  3. Identify social justice, racial inequality, and racial injustice education instruction that utilizes multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives and project-based, active, and collaborative teaching/learning approaches.
  4. Design professional development for faculty to lead more advanced discussion sessions about various materials and resources, and to engage in dialogues about the readings or film documentaries with students, faculty, and staff.
  5. Identify opportunities for faculty to research, develop, and practice culturally relevant pedagogies.
  6. Identify opportunities and support for faculty and student research on diversity, social justice, racial inequality, racial injustice, and racism in our society.

Facilitator: Dr. Katie Rybakova

Task Force Members: Brian Bernatchez; Steve Kahl; Ryley Velozo; Alicia Wilcox; Mike Akanji; Michael Sales; Dan Leland; Carol Jollotta, Mackenzi Veilleux

Identifying and delivering support materials and resources for addressing equity, diversity, and social justice for use across the campus.

  1. Design a website that identifies resource links for addressing equity, diversity, social justice, and antiracism information.
  2. Design and development of resources and materials that present new perspectives on equity, diversity and social justice in the U.S. These resources are designed to further enhance antiracist thinking and better understand the ways in which race intersects with other identities, working on coalition building, exploring the divide and conquer tactics, or investigate how communities of color are complicit in maintaining white supremacy even while being impacted by it.
  3. Develop a comprehensive campus outreach and communications plan around equity, diversity, social justice, and antiracism initiatives.
  4. Provide professional development opportunities for faculty and staff to lead discussion sessions about various materials and resources, and to engage in dialogues about readings or film documentaries with students, faculty, and staff.

Facilitator: David Smith

Task Force Members: Ed Cervone, Danielle Marquis, Sydni Collier, Lonnie Thompson, LG Fleurine, Deputy Chief William Bonney

Creating a more holistic campus learning environment with regard to equity, diversity, and social justice. 

  1. Review and summary of how the college provides a welcoming and inclusive space where students of various identities can find resources and support networks, as well as build community. We must consider how to make all events accessible and engaging to a broad audience. This audience includes a wide range of social identities based upon race, ethnicity, language, country of origin, religion, political affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, ability, class, age, etc.
  2. Develop a systematic and sustained process to monitor and collect data on campus climate for faculty/staff/students; these surveys on students, faculty, and staff should be conducted regularly. Survey should ask students, faculty, staff, and administrators about their:
    • Perceptions of Thomas’ climate
    • Perceptions of how Thomas supports equity, diversity, and social justice policies and practices,
    • Experiences with discrimination, harassment, racial intolerance, and racist attitudes/behaviors at Thomas.

Facilitator: Zahayra Razo & Camille McGadney
Task Force Members: Andrea Thebarge, William Bonney, Crystal Leavitt, Paul Heath, Kyle Greene, Joel Matondo, Ntumba Mutombo, Bethany Dehmer

In the News

To date there have been five press releases related to the President’s Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (formerly the Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Social Justice). They can be found in our news archive. These were released June 3, 2020, June 18, 2020 (two on this date; A & B), August 7, 2020, and December , 2020.

School creates group to address racism“ – Morning Sentinel, 22 June 2020

Thomas announces launch of diversity task force“ – Morning Sentinel, 17 August 2020