How one university prepares leaders to champion diversity

Lenoir-Rhyne University Equity and Diversity Institute offers certification to dismantle systemic racism
By: | August 3, 2020
(GettyImages/Andriy Onufriyenko)

A program to guide leaders in building greater diversity and equity at schools, workplaces and other organizations has been launched online by Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina.

The Lenoir-Rhyne University Equity and Diversity Institute offers 30-hour certifications that prepare leaders to dismantle systemic racism in education, business and technology, says Aisha Adams, the media and diversity expert who created the program.

“With so many people out of work and with COVID 19, the need look at our most vulnerable populations and make sure everyone is included, has a voice and has ownership, money and power over their own lives is super important right now,” Adams says.

For example, the institute’s higher education coursework begins with a focus on diverse recruitment, followed by retention of underrepresented employees.


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Leaders should ensure they are marketing positions where Black candidates are more likely to see them, such as at historically Black colleges and universities, Adams says.

Another key is using analytics that, in many communities, show disproportionate unemployment among back communities, Adams says.

And in K-12 education, the institute covers cultural competency and strategies for providing students in urban schools with more opportunities to collaborate.

“Urban kids have to be taught compassion—compassion for themselves and their communities,” she says. “Students have to get out an do schoolwork that connects to community projects.”


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