The Division of Student Affairs was recognized by the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, and Academic Success as part of a study conducted by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine. The study considered the number of staff members and compensation of staff, as well as cultural factors like quality of workplace environment, leave policies and staff development opportunities.
“I was delighted because diversity has been such a core value for our division for a long time,” Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D. ’06 said. “Diversity has been a core focus of our work with students but also a part of our focus as an administrative unit. We want Student Affairs to be a model for [an] inclusive community.”
Although many students use the Office of Student Affairs as a source of knowledge for anything related to campus, the study was completed unbeknownst to many of the staff members. Ambler received notification of the College’s placement on the list in an email but said none of the staff members even knew the list existed.
“This came out of the blue. [We’re] surprised and thrilled,” Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs and Director of Student Affairs Planning and Assessment Jodi Fisler said. “It’s one thing when you get an honor that you’ve applied for, which is wonderful in its own way, but when you get recognized for something you weren’t even aware you were being considered for, it’s nice in a different way.”
Fisler said she also hopes the recognition will allow students to see the Division of Student Affairs in a different light.
“One of the things that is nice about [the placement] is that it puts the spotlight on Student Affairs as a profession,” Fisler said. “Students don’t necessarily think about all the people that work in Student Affairs and contribute to making the experience that [they] have here what it is.”
Though the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs is located in Campus Center, the department works with multiple entities on campus. Ambler set up five thematic groups within the Student Affairs Division: Campus Living, Health and Wellness, Student Leadership and Engagement, Student Success, and Career Development.
Each department has a developed diversity action plan, and many work together on projects. For example, the Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center has a liaison to the Center for Student Diversity to help students looking for jobs determine whether their employer promotes diversity.
“Ginger came in with her wisdom, intelligence [and] love of the College. She’s just remarkable,” Director of Residence Life Deb Boykin said. “I get my day-to-day energy and inspiration from my colleagues.”
Ambler said she does not see the recognition as a sign to slow work. She said she hopes that the College will continue to be seen nationally as a beacon of diversity, but she thinks it is even more crucial now to keep improving as a unit.
“It’s important to remember that a commitment to diversity is a daily choice,” Ambler said. “It’s something that we have to be conscious of in every interaction and every conversation. We have to keep working at that. We have to live it every day.”