Welcome Letter by the Assistant Vice President
A major division in the University calls on the Office of Opportunity Development and Diversity Education Planning (ODDEP) to discuss possible ways to move employees to a better understanding of the concept of diversity, civility and equal opportunity.
The top administrator speaks with a staff member in the office and receives many suggestions on how to address this difficult, yet important task. The staff member and the administrator along with others in the division meet over a few weeks and develop drafts of civility statements, equal opportunity policies specific to the unit and assessments to determine staff concerns and results of the project are effective. A few months later, after all have reviewed the statements and policies and have had the opportunity to make comments/suggestions, the documents are implemented and the division begins to see improvement in morale and efficiency.
This seems too good to be true? Well, the scenario has occurred approximately sixty times during the academic year of 2001 right here at Georgia State University. The players? Many of you and the dedicated, experienced staff in the office of Opportunity Development and Diversity Education Planning. Additionally, individual training has increased dramatically.
"What has happened," many of you have asked? Well, ODDEP has re-engineered its approach to aiding in the goal toward diversity and equal opportunity. The approach has gone from reactive intervention to proactive and preventative intervention and from policy police to partners around the development of those policies. While ODDEP still handles complaints of discrimination, our approach now is to quickly resolve the issues to the benefit of the complainant and supervisor while ensuring that certain behaviors and actions do not re-occur. Perceptions of the office of Opportunity Development and Diversity Education Planning by many faculty, staff and students are truly positive regarding this change.
I am truly pleased and energized about the shift in perceptions about what affirmative action and diversity mean at Georgia State University. In an effort to fulfill our mission of fostering interaction amongst diverse people around compelling ideas and questions, and assisting the University in fostering "educational and workforce opportunity," we are eager to be partners for change and improvement in the areas of equal opportunity and diversity.
The leadership around ensuring inclusiveness in the educational process of students and the workforce has moved beyond ODDEP and top-level administrators requiring equal opportunity, to partnerships with the people we serve. These partnerships are creating an environment, in most cases, that is responsible and dedicated to equal opportunity, diversity and civility. The expansion of this partnership helps the University grow exponentially toward its mission of "assisting the university community in becoming a center for learning about the vast array of issue found in the living laboratory of a metropolitan environment."
As I sit and consider our new collaborations around equal opportunity and diversity, I can only be pleased and proud to be a partner with people who value equal opportunity and manage diversity effectively.
I encourage you all to follow the path that the administrator described in the beginning of this article has taken. That is one of being a responsible leader and willing to partner with ODDEP to provide equal opportunity not only because policy tells us to do so, but because we see the value in having a diverse/inclusive workforce and student body at Georgia State University.
Please use this website as an Opportunity Development resource in our goal to expand knowledge and build relationships around issues related to diversity and equal opportunity.
Linda J. Nelson
Assistant Vice President of Opportunity Development and Diversity Education Planning