IDEA offers campus diversity


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Mara Delvecchio/THE CAMPUS

Staring in July, the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Access, or IDEA will take on the responsibility of directing all of Allegheny College’s diversity groups.

The office, headed by chief diversity officer Dr. Lawrence Potter, was formed in Aug. 2010 to help fulfill Allegheny’s commitment to diversifying its campus and curriculum.

According to Dr. Potter, institutions of higher learning dedicated to excellence must work to make diversity an important part of their educational experience.

“When we think about diversity and excellence,” said Potter. “We think about diversity and excellence in combination, that in fact they do co-exist and are not in competition.”

The office embodies some of the goals articulated Allegheny’s strategic plan, Combinations 2020, which advocates the adoption of a more international curriculum as well as continued efforts to further diversity on campus.

“Part of the vision for the office came through the college’s collective understanding of one, a need for a chief diversity officer,” said Dr. Potter. “Combinations 2020 is a charge to the college to diversify both the campus and the curriculum and to internationalize both the curriculum as well as the campus, and Combinations 2020 calls for that to be done in concert, and not in isolation.”

“Part of that responsibility falls in this office,” he added.

The IDEA office works with Academic Affairs, the dean of the college, Student Affairs, and the Dean of Students Office to achieve the goals outlined in Combinations 2020.

“Starting July, the Office of Diversity Affairs will be solely supervised by IDEA,” wrote Director of Diversity Affairs Cherjanét Lenzy in an email. “Transition work has already begun, which includes weekly meetings with Dr. Potter and collaborative work.”

This summer, IDEA will head an effort with faculty, staff, students involved in leadership activities and international students to survey diversity issues on campus and create a report by fall of 2011.

Nikki Murray, ’11, is enthusiastic about the future implementations of IDEA. “Students are able to bring complaints to IDEA, they’re able to bring requests, they’re able to being ideas and it’ll help make this campus a safer place for students,” she said.

Along with spurring the creation of future initiatives, IDEA keeps the college in compliance with a variety of federal discrimination regulations, such as the American Disabilities Act, along with the college’s own Equal Employment Opportunity and non-discrimination policies.

Dr. Potter looks forward to implementing IDEA’s vision in the coming years. “There’s always room for improvement, and there’s always room for change,” he said.