April first was also the first day on the job for Dr. Julie Dockery, Benedictine’s new Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
Part of the duties of the Associate Provost of DEI involves improving diversity in enrollment and hiring faculty. Dr. Dockery hopes that through her position, Benedictine will become a more diverse and inclusive space for people of all races, abilities, religions, orientations, and gender identities.
“You have to be purposeful when you are recruiting diverse faculty and diverse students.” Dr. Dockery said. According to Dockery, it’s a matter of knowing where to look and how to reach out to provide a diverse range of applicants for both students and faculty.
This hire comes at a time where discussions about diversity and inclusion in the Benedictine community are front and center following a professor’s usage of a racial slur in a classroom in March. In fact, according to Dockery, it was during her interview process for the position that the incident occurred.
“If I’m being honest, none of it was uncommon. It’s something that happens all the time. And there are so many layers and so many perspectives.” Dr. Dockery said. In considering the place of such language in academic discussions, Dr. Dockery echoed the sentiments of many students that such language doesn’t need to be used even in academic discussions.
When asked what exactly would be changing in the Benedictine community, Dr. Dockery responded that positive change would be slow, and gradual, and that exact changes to campus policy would also take time. Dr. Dockery explained that this time will allow the provost’s office to get hard numbers to help inform decisions.
“What we’re going to continue to do, is to continue to implement new ways of doing things, identify new goals and objectives. And then we’re going to let those things play out. And then within a year or so, we will continue to identify the numbers and the qualitative data and figure out if we are progressing or not.”
Before coming to Benedictine, Dr. Dockery spent years in civic engagement as well as social justice and advocacy. She spent 12 years as an English professor and director of civic engagement, as well as equity partner and champion at the city colleges of Chicago.