Report reveals VWU diversity

Virginia Wesleyan University has made steps to improve their commitment to diversity and inclusion, each one outlined on the diversity page of the school’s website. As a member of the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA), VWU is given the opportunity to engage in professional learning and development programs and participates in campus climate surveys of the students, faculty and staff.

Regina Barletta serves as the director of human resources on campus. According to her, the institution holds a goal of an inclusive campus community “and has action items to guide our continuing attention and progress.” 

On Dec. 13, 2021, the university published the Employment by Diversity Report, outlining the diversity among full-time and part-time staff as well as student employees of the Work & Learn Program. This includes contract service employees, COOP/OPUS employees, Work-Study students and Residential Leadership employees.

For all sections of employment, the majority of people identified themselves as White, with the identification of Black or African American being the second highest proportion in every case, followed by Hispanic or Latino.

However the statistics do not align exactly between student employees and full-time or part-time employees. Among the full-time and part-time employees, 72.3% identified themselves as White while 17.7% identified themselves as Black or African American. The next largest percentage was 4.0% identifying as Hispanic or Latino.

Data from VWU 2021 Diversity and Inclusion on Campus report.
Rhian Tramontana | Marlin Chronicle

For student employees, 44.2% self-identified as White, 38.4% as Black or African American and 9.4% as Hispanic or Latino.

When analyzing the undergraduate population during the Fall 2021 semester, the Virginia Wesleyan website lists the total number of students as 1,070. Of these students, 52.5% identify as White, 26.5% of students identified as Black and 9.4% identified as Hispanic.

According to the U.S. Census from 2020, 68.4% of residents in Virginia identify as White. The next highest percentage was Black or African American, alone, at 19.9%, followed by Hispanic or Latino at 9.8%.

While there are no quotas regarding the hiring of specific races as campus employees, open positions on campus “and those that are with contracted services attract a variety of individuals from all backgrounds,” Barletta said.

The Equal Opportunity policy states that all those applying for employment and advancement opportunities are judged “on the basis of merit, qualifications, and competency,” giving no regard to “race, religion, color, creed, gender, national and ethnic origin, age, marital status, covered veteran status, handicap, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.”

Data from VWU Human Resources 2021-2022 Employment by Diversity Report.
Rhian Tramontana | Marlin Chronicle

The hiring process on campus is overseen by various individuals. Barletta says that “Vice Presidents and the Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics recommend staffing needs to the president for approval.” Additionally, the Office of Human Resources “has oversight of all institutional hiring practices outside of contract services (Aramark for Facilities, Sodexo for Dining Services, Sentara, etc.),” Barletta says.

According to Barletta, all open positions are listed on the university’s website and the university “utilizes several different methods to advertise open positions” based on what the opportunity is.

Matthew Taylor, president of the Asian Student Union on campus, appreciates the university’s efforts to “diversify the campus and make people feel welcome.” 

To improve inclusivity, Taylor would love to see “more events based around uplifting diverse groups of cultures.” 

On Jan. 7, President Miller announced the creation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DEIC). The council will encourage dialogue and collaboration on campus to celebrate differences. Dr. Felipe Hugueño has been appointed by President Miller as the Chief Diversity Officer for the DEIC. He will be joined by five colleagues who will serve as Deputy Diversity Officers:  Dr. Modupe Oshikoya, Cameia Alexander, Dr. Brian Kurisky, Kelly Jackson and Andre Wiggins. Dr. Susan Larkin and Dr. Keith Moore have been chosen to serve as ex officio liaisons for the President’s Cabinet.