Taylor Corley, Campus Carrier editor-in-chief
Earlier this month, the President’s Office released an email recommitting itself to strengthening the culture of belonging on Berry’s campus. The email detailed ways in which administration plans to foster an inclusive and supportive community among faculty, staff and students of all backgrounds and experiences.
Administration, after speaking with several members of the Berry community, has created a president’s advisory committee, consisting of four faculty members, four staff members and four students. In order to ensure that all areas of expansion mentioned in the email are overseen, including programing, personal and professional development, representation for both faculty and staff and students of color, curriculum and policies related to freedom of expression and unacceptable speech.
“I talked to a variety of people,” President Steve Briggs said. “I talked to senior leaders of the college, I talked to the Chair of the faculty senate, I talked to David Lindsey, and so this group will work on guiding overall. They will be a sounding board for me and [the committee] will help to shape the questions and the issues and the goals, and help review and talk about the other six areas…mentioned in the email.”
According to Briggs, the committee’s faculty members include assistant professor of management Thema Monroe-White, associate professor of animal science Sunday Peters, professor of religion Jeffrey Lidke, associate professor of education Eliana Hirano. The student representatives are junior Noah Miller, senior Julia Churchill, sophomore Robert Mbenoun Mahend and sophomore Alex Campbell, and the staff members include Chon’tel Washington, director of Student Diversity Initiatives, Angel Mason, director of athletics, Stacey Spillers, director of foundation relations and strategic partnerships and Chaplain Jonathan Huggins.
The presidential advisory committee is intended to guide the overall process but, according to Briggs, there will also be working committees designed to focus on each of the six aspects mentioned in the email specifically.
“What we’re trying to do is get a balance of students and faculty and staff who would work on these other six topics and then the advisory committee is looking at sort of the whole process,” Briggs said.
Briggs hopes to begin virtual discussion and preparation for the upcoming semester in December so that the group can begin taking action once students and faculty return to campus.
“In January we will start trying to meet on a regular basis, probably every other two weeks, and the goal is to talk about what we are trying to get accomplished in the spring and what we think would be best to start on the next school year,” Briggs said. “We will also be preparing for what we want to accomplish in the 21-22 academic year. So there are some short term goals, mid-term goals… and the kind of issues that are important to work on overtime.”