During the University’s recent Diversity Town Hall, Vice President of Advancement Tamara Michel Josserand shared the ways in which her work in fundraising, community relations, and planned giving aligns with U of R diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Here are her remarks.
The issues of diversity and inclusion have always been close to my heart and have been an important part of my work, both at Redlands and for previous organizations.
Over the past several months, we have been actively facilitating and hosting events for alumni and other members of the University community who want to discuss these important issues. In recent months, we have hosted a number of conversations between alumni and students around LGBTQ+ issues, and we are working with the Black Student Union and Campus Diversity and Inclusion to host similar virtual conversations. We are engaging these groups, as well as others, to help us better diversify alumni programming and activities and set the stage for the creation of an array of alumni and student affinity groups.
Our Alumni Association Board of Directors has established a new Diversity and Inclusion Committee that is specifically tasked with identifying issues of diversity and racial equity in order to more fully represent our Bulldog alumni community.
We have also worked closely with the Office of Career and Professional Development to identify and recruit alumni from a broad array of professional backgrounds to host career panels and offer mentor support to students.
In partnership with Christopher Jones, we hosted a series of four workshops called Challenging Conversations, which facilitated dialogue around different issues of diversity and equity. The four events brought a total of 950 attendees, demonstrating the great interest in these topics. Following this series, we also offered an online class hosted by Race and Ethnic Studies Professor Keith Osajima. The four-week course, titled “Thinking About Racism and Anti-Racism,” was offered to all alumni. As a result, several alumni who are members of the Redlands Police Department also took the course.
One of the most important priorities for which we consistently raise funds at Redlands is financial aid. Ensuring that the University has ample funding to support scholarships allows us to welcome a diverse population of students, regardless of need. Securing funding for scholarships, especially those through our endowment, is vital because it helps to ensure a diverse approach to recruitment and retention of students on campus. As a result of this growing increase in donor-funded scholarship support, the University has consequently seen a steady increase in the numbers of first-generation students and students of color on campus. Half of our Forever Yours campaign goal is designated to supporting scholarships and financial aid, ensuring future Bulldogs have access to a Redlands education. To date, we have raised nearly $115 million for this important area of our campaign. For example, we have collaborated with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, whose leadership support provides scholarships for Native students.
In addition to scholarships, we are also raising funds for other programs connected to diversity and inclusion, including our first-generation Summer Bridge Program and Pride Center. Newer funding initiatives include a Fund for Diversity and Inclusion and an Activist-in-Residence endowed fund.
Finally, I am helping to lead a subcommittee for U of R culture and climate with School of Education Dean Mario Martinez and Senior Diversity and Inclusion Officer Christopher Jones. The committee’s goal is to help successfully engage the University in a campus climate survey that will inform our conversations on diversity and inclusion. This study also will provide us with some tangible tools for future conversations and policy.