Dr. Kathy Purnell began her consultant role as PUC’s Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in November. We asked Purnell to share about the challenges, goals, and plans for PUC in her role.
How are campuses falling short when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Purnell: All campuses reflect the ebb and flow of ideological subtleties and local or national flashpoints, and to be honest, the question is one of temperature. Cold might represent inactivity or minimal attention, and hot would suggest great activity and intentionality to normalize true diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, a thorough search of campus-related issues will certainly convey themes, pain points, and areas of opportunity and growth. They may also convey strengths and stories of hope. The voices of students, staff, faculty, administration, and alumni are important in crafting and delivering campus stories.
What is your favorite part of your role with PUC?
Purnell: I love working in my role with Dr. Cushman and the rest of the school leadership team, campus community, and students who are committed to diversity through actionable strategies. They are responsive to these initiatives, and this is made evident via the meetings and efforts to enact them.
Do you have specific goals?
Purnell: Absolutely. Every voice matters, and seeking buy-in through conversations and meeting with key stakeholders is a critical piece in developing measurable outcomes. I teach an important principle that one ought never to walk into a community with assumptions about that community. Instead, we must practice cultural humility and respect by seeking buy-in from those who are familiar with the needs of that community. Therefore, goals include continued engagement with key stakeholders. This leads to questions to understand the unique needs, issues, and strengths of PUC. It further explores how one might build on the themes that contribute to the character of the community. Whose voices are included or excluded from the narrative and why?
My goal is to ensure that I know the stories as I collaboratively nurture, adjust, or tweak aspects of the campus climate I observe. Every voice matters and should be represented in policies and practices to support a community of belonging.
How do you address collective responsibility?
Purnell: As we continue to strive for a community of belonging at PUC, it will take open, honest discussions and reflections at all levels. This means that all individuals must be willing to examine early experiences in our environments and how these may have shaped our beliefs regarding diversity. Are we reflecting the light of love, care, inclusion, and support of individuals, groups, and communities that might reflect a different story or experience? We must be willing to examine our circles and visit the quiet, unchallenged corners of our lives if true belonging is our ultimate goal. All voices matter, and we must provide room and space for such stories to emerge without limitation.
PUC is excited that Dr. Purnell has joined us to help in our mission to honor and nurture the great diversity we have on campus.
By Ashley Eisele