headshot of Dr. Doris Houston
Dr. Doris Houston

The 2021-2022 academic year continued the drive for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) efforts at Illinois State University.  

“Equity work is not the role of the few, but the responsibility of the many,” said Interim Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Doris Houston. Grassroots efforts joined with administrative initiatives to reflect and shape the University’s core value of diversity and inclusion.   

Here are some highlights: 

A new statement: EDI ISU 

EDI is you. It is a simple, but powerful, message. One that is encapsulated in a new wordmark—or a logo created mainly from text—for Illinois State’s commitment to equity work. The EDI ISU wordmark was conceived by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Dakesa Piña from the College of Education, and designed with intentionality of font and style by University Marketing and Communications graphic designer Lawrence Lair. Learn more about the development of the wordmark

Fulfilling commitments 

This year saw further continuation of the work to bring to life the visions and suggestions from the latest Campus Climate Task Force, which wrapped in 2017.  

students with ceremonial ribbon
Students celebrated the opening of the new Multicultural Center.

Multicultural Center – After more than a decade of discussions and five years of planning, the Multicultural Center opened on October 15 with a ribbon cutting and dedication. Students joined University and community leaders at the center, which provides an affirming environment where students can flourish in their intersecting identities. Read more

Faculty Diversity Enhancement Program (FDEP) – In the ongoing effort to recruit and retain outstanding new faculty who promote equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University, Vice President and Provost Aondover Tarhule announced the launch of the Faculty Diversity Enhancement Program. The $4.5 million program will advance teaching, scholarly, and creative efforts of new faculty who promote EDI through their research, teaching, service, and mentoring. Read more. 

Search Advocate Program – As part of efforts to recognize and interrupt unconscious bias throughout the search process, Human Resources began training sessions for the Search Advocate Program. Read more.  

College of Engineering – The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved a new College of Engineering at Illinois State, with the institution centering equity in every stage of development. Read more

two people seated at a table
From left, Dr. Eda Ozyesilpinar and Dr. Rocío Rivadeneyra at the EDI Leaders Circle in Fall 2021.

EDI Leaders Circle  

The EDI Leaders Circle represents nearly 40 councils, committees, and areas across campus dedicated to advancing EDI at the University. Members gathered for an EDI Leaders Circle Symposium in February to exchange ideas and explore equity Pillars of Progress, designed by Houston. “This symposium was a chance for advocate-leaders to continue to forge pathways toward a foundation for equity at Illinois State,” she said. Read more

Leading the way

Dr. Natalie Shaheen and Dr. Mindy Ely photo
Dr. Natalie Shaheen and Dr. Mindy Ely ’91

Low vision and blindness Consistently ranked as one of the top programs in the state and in the country, the Department of Special Education offers one of 33 low vision and blindness programs in the country and one of only eight for undergraduates. Read more.

Illinois Tutoring Initiative – Illinois State is coordinating the Illinois Tutoring Initiative in partnership with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and the Illinois Community College Board. The program will provide tutoring for approximately 8,500 Illinois students during the two-year period. Read more

Hope Chicago – Illinois State University announced an agreement with Hope Chicago, opening the door for Chicago Public School (CPS) students and their parents to pursue debt-free higher education. Hope Scholars who are accepted into Illinois State will receive full tuition, fees, room, and board. Hope Parent Scholars have the option to apply and attend the following year, with full tuition, fees, and a stipend for living expenses. Read more

Giving voice 

Mutlicultural Center Director Dr. Christa Platt speaks at the memorial service for Jelani Day.
Multicultural Center Director Dr. Christa Platt speaks at the memorial service for Jelani Day.

Collective grief – As the campus grappled with the feelings of fear and loss in the wake of student Jelani Day’s disappearance and death, the Multicultural Center and Student Counseling Services provided support and spaces to grieve, including a memorial service. Read more.  

Listening Circles – Listening circles provided a brave space for members of the University to express emotions such as fear, confusion, and frustration. Circles this year included topics such as Transgender Awareness Week and the overturning of Roe v Wade. The National Center for Urban Education at Illinois State offers more about listening circles.  

Dr. Byron Craig
Dr. Byron Craig

Tapis Talk – A new podcast launched by Assistant Professor of Race, Visual, and African American Rhetoric Byron Craig, called Tapis Talk, explores issues surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at Illinois State. Read more

First-Generation Triumph Podcast – Elevating the voices of first-generation students and their lived experiences is the goal of the First-Generation Triumph Podcast, which launched in September. Read more.  

Instructor wearing a personal voice amplifier
Amplifers added for instructors.

Deliberative Dialogues – The new program Deliberative Dialogues seeks to depolarize opinions and connect students with training in constructive dialogues. Read more

Amplifiers – The fall began with instructors having greater access to personal voice amplifiers, which not only assisted low-hearing students, but also faculty who preferred to wear masks. Read more

Celebrations and anniversaries 

Mayuko Nakamura
Mayuko Nakamura

Strand Award – Mayuko Nakamura was honored with the 2022 David A. Strand Diversity Achievement Award, in part for her work with the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, AsiaConnect affinity group, Campus Climate Task Force, Office of the Provost’s Inclusive Leadership Initiative planning committee, and the Multi-Ethnic Cultural and Co-Curricular Advisory Committee. Read more.  

Title IX – The University hosted a year-long celebration of the landmark statute Title IX.

President Terri Goss Kinzy confers the Lincoln Laureate medal on Luke Madden
President Terri Goss Kinzy confers the Lincoln Laureate medal on Luke Madden.

WGSS – Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies celebrated 25 years of the annual research symposium. Read more.  

Crossroads Project – The Crossroads Project selected Tidtaya Sinutoke’s play Dear Mr. C as the winner of the 2022 Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative, a play development program for BIPOC playwrights organized by the Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance. The production was staged in April. 

Lincoln Laureate – Luke Madden was named one of the year’s outstanding college students by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, in part for his work with the STEM Alliance.  

New roles and new faces

Illinois State welcomed new faces and new roles to administrative positions at Illinois State. Clockwise from top left, Dr. Deneca Winfrey Avant joined the Office of the Provost as the interim assistant vice president for faculty development, diversity, and learning. Chrishaya Dixon was hired as Athletics’ first assistant athletics director for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Dr. Roopa Rawjee was named executive director of the Office of International Engagement. Dr. Anthony Jones was named director of the Laboratory Schools. Dr. Anthony Piña was selected as the director of online education and chief online learning officer for the Center for Integrated Professional Development. Tamekia Bailey was named director for CAST Connections, the College’s new student-level success center. Dr. Francis Ebenezer Godwyll was appointed as dean of the College of Education.

Opportunities and development  

Opportunities, workshops, and training thrived across campus as individuals, departments, and divisions made their way further along equity journeys.  

Participants laugh and applaud during a workshop exercise.
Taking part in the restorative justice workshops.

The Division of Student Affairs led the way, providing more than 200 professional development opportunities throughout the academic year to students, staff, and faculty. The Office of the Provost’s GROWTH program continued across campus, with a focus on collaboration and assessment. Under the guidance of the College of Education, the University offered restorative justice workshops to campus. Human Resources is now partnering with with LinkedIn Learning, a digital library of more than 16,000 courses, covering a wide range of topics that encompass equity and inclusion, technical aptitude and application, leadership, mindfulness, and more.

More EDI insights from 2021-2022

For a look into more EDI efforts at Illinois State, see EDI Year in Review – Reseach and Honors and EDI Year in Review – Events and happenings.

Items in the story were taken from features in the bi-weekly newsletter Identity, and the weekly newsletter Report.