GSU’s Chief Diversity Officer talks about Diversity and Inclusiveness Initiatives

GSUs Chief Diversity Officer talks about Diversity and Inclusiveness Initiatives

In partnership with the George-Anne Deep Dive, the George-Anne Inkwell interviewed Georgia Southern’s Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Dominique Quarles, on Friday, November 18.

By Jabari Gibbs

With a diverse student body across all three campuses, diversity and inclusiveness are unavoidable. Dr. Quarles explained why both aspects are vital to higher education.

“It’s important because Georgia Southern is publicly funded and the institution is a reflection of society. So, because of that, it means that diverse individuals are going to be here. Therefore, the option of having diversity or not isn’t a true option. It’s a false option. There’s going to be diversity if you have a group of people. Though the inclusion aspect has to be more intentional,” said Dr. Quarles

Dr. Quarles spoke about his role in ensuring professors are equipped to hold discussions about diversity.

“So, we have a contract with a third-party solution called Get Inclusive.  And that is our diversity education platform for students, faculty, and staff. The platform gives access to four modules, some around general (DEI), some surrounding microaggressions, and some are focused on inclusive hiring practices and things of that nature,” said Dr. Quarles.

“Also, sometimes you may have to pause instruction and handle something head-on. The way instructors handle those situations are going to be different, it’s really a social science. It’s an art to it. Some instructors have a lot of practice in that art. Some don’t, so I get a little concerned. But the end goal is to have faculty members understand when language has reached a level of either hate or divisiveness that goes beyond simple freedom of speech or simple civil discourse,” said Dr. Quarles.

In 2020, the university introduced an Inclusive Excellence Action Plan focused on promoting and ensuring an inclusive environment. Dr. Quarles explained the metrics the university uses to gauge the plan’s effectiveness.

“All senior administrators have a scorecard, and the Inclusive Excellence Action Plan is a piece of my scorecard. One of the metrics that we’re looking at is the percentage of students engaged in inclusive excellence activities throughout the year. In addition to looking at the percentage of faculty who are engaged in inclusive education.”

The Inclusive Excellence Plan is set to continue through 2024. Dr. Quarles went on to speak about the initiative’s future.

“My current plan is to grasp the plan as is and to try to make that plan come to life in a real way.”

Check out their website for more information on the Office of Inclusive Excellence.