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February 23, 2015   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | UGA’s Diversity Advisory Council undergoes structural…
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The 14 members of the newly reorganized Diversity Advisory Council met for the first time in December, receiving their charge from Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. Photo by Robert Newcomb

UGA’s Diversity Advisory Council undergoes structural reorganization

Camie Williams

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By Camie Williams | February 23, 2015
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The university's newly reorganized Diversity Advisory Council is working to further the mission of fostering an inclusive campus for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

The 14 new members of the council met for the first time in December, receiving their charge from Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten.

"An institution such as UGA should always have a diversity council," said Michelle Garfield Cook, UGA's associate provost for institutional diversity, who redesigned the board to align with smaller configurations used at other universities. "My hope is that the group will be able to identify and consider issues that affect diversity and inclusion at UGA and make recommendations for how we can continue to progress as a university."

UGA's Diversity Advisory Council was created in 2008 and charged by then-Provost Arnett Mace to assist in the design and implementation of strategies and programs to enhance diversity and inclusion at the university. The council developed the UGA Diversity Plan with input from faculty, staff, students and administrators.

While the more than 30 members of the board provided a great breadth of viewpoints for creating the 2011-2016 plan, Cook worked to create a more effective organizational structure with Beverly Johnson, who researched the change as part of her pursuit of a doctorate of education in adult education.

"As I serve my terms as a member of the council, I look forward to being able to share my knowledge and experience in providing awareness to our campus and building an inclusive relationship that values the rich diversity of our community," said council member Tran Nguyen, an international student adviser in the Office of International Education.

Council member Diane Miller, director of Student Academic Services in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, said the work of the council will further the value that every student, faculty and staff member should be treated with respect and care.

"By advancing diversity awareness, I hope to support a campus culture built on a foundation of respect and caring for all of the diverse individuals and populations that comprise UGA," Miller said.

Charles Orgbon III, a first-year student studying environmental economics and management, is serving as a student representative on the council.

"I think it's important that students are part of the conversation with the administrators because it is all about the learning environment and ensuring the university is for all students," he said. "We are all excited to figure out what students need."

In addition to Miller, Nguyen and Orgbon, other members of the Diversity Advisory Council include Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander, an associate professor in the Terry College of Business; Dr. Paige Carmichael, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine; Victoria David, a program coordinator in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Janette Hill, a professor in the College of Education; Jan D. Hudson, a human resources manager in the University Libraries; Corey W. Johnson, a professor in the College of Education; Hilda Kurtz, an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; Bill McDonald, dean of students; Alexia Ridley, reporter/anchor for WUGA-FM 91.7/97.9 FM; Tim Samples, an assistant professor in the Terry College of Business; and Ernest Webster, a business development coordinator in the Division of Finance and Administration.

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