It's hard to imagine Grand Valley State University without a Division
of Inclusion and Equity. The work led by division staff members
permeates the fabric of what it means to live, learn and work on campus.
Projects, policies and initiatives from the Division of Inclusion and
- shaped classroom discussions
- improved university hiring practices
- helped create a welcoming campus environment, and
- elevated the voices of underrepresented and marginalized
communities on campus.
This work did not begin just a decade ago. The division's 10th
anniversary celebrates and builds on work done by students, faculty
and staff members since Grand Valley welcomed its first class in 1963.
A liberal education is at the center of Grand Valley's mission, and
creating a diverse environment is essential to shaping intellect,
creativity, and cultural competence and humility. President Tom Haas
took that to heart when he created the Division of Inclusion and
Equity. At the time, Grand Valley was the first institution of its
kind to create such a division and hire a vice president to lead its efforts.
Beginning in 2008, the inaugural vice president of inclusion and
equity Dr. Jeanne Arnold laid the groundwork for creating inclusive
practices that remain in place today, including:
- elevating the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy
to a series of events
- adding gender identity and expression to the university’s
nondiscrimination statement, and
- securing household member benefits.
Dr. Jesse Bernal came to campus in 2015 as the second vice president
for inclusion and equity. He leads this work with a social justice and
intersectional framework. As a result of his leadership, the division
The Division facilitates compliance efforts across campus, is home to
five social justice centers, is active in community and civic
engagement, and has created a culture of continuous improvement -
growing programs and initiatives to align with the current needs of
students, faculty, staff, and the broader community.
The work led by division staff has pushed Grand Valley into the
national spotlight. Awards have recognized the university as a
LGBT-friendly campus, veteran-friendly campus, and tops for students
on the Autism spectrum, among other acknowledgments.
President Haas, Vice President Bernal, and the rest of the
administration remain committed to creating an environment where
everyone can be their full authentic selves, with barriers removed,
and where, through partnership, the university and larger community
can be transformed.
We believe that the values of equity and inclusion make each member
of our community better and are fundamental to what it means to be a Laker.