Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
(Above) Journey to Success review committee L to R: Darren Gambrell, Sean Grosso, Corey Posey, Reginique Johnson, Hawa Allarakhia, Carlos Moreira and Teeranai Ovathanasin.
As colleges and universities across the nation intensify their efforts to create and foster campus environments that are diverse, inclusive and equitable in all aspects, the University of South Florida has taken significant steps during the past year to ensure appropriate changes are taking place.
In the summer of 2019, the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus established the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and recruited Corey Posey to expand programming and community partnerships.
This work has become even more significant with the release of the 2020 State of the Region Equity Report by the Tampa Bay Partnership Foundation, which determined that the Sarasota-Manatee area has the highest equity gap between white and black degree attainment in the region.
One program making an impact is the Journey to Success leadership and career preparation series that is delivered to local high school students by members of Gamma Xi Boulé, a social fraternity of professional men of color, and USF faculty and staff. Topics include leadership and confidence, careers in chemical and biological sciences, information technology and engineering and criminal law and justice.
After the highly publicized death of George Floyd in May 2020 while in the custody of Minneapolis police-and the ensuing protests nationwide demanding that systemic racism be addressed-USF President Steve Currall committed to invest $500,000 in research projects exploring systemic racism, its causes and solutions to the problems and formed a new advisory committee, “Understanding and Addressing Blackness and Anti-Black Racism,” on which Posey serves along with Staff Advisory Council President Denise Davis-Cotton.
Currall then announced additional initiatives, including elevating two Black educators to top decision-making roles at USF; boosting efforts to recruit Black students, faculty and staff; holding purchase decision-makers accountable for choosing more diverse suppliers and hosting a series of forums on all three campuses to discuss race.
USF Sarasota-Manatee campus staff Darren Gambrell, Corey Posey and Carlos Moreira with student Scarleth Ardino and Chair of the Gamma Xi Boulé Education Foundation Carl Battle (far right).
Posey brought in Rev. Jamie Washington, a renowned expert on racism, diversity and social justice issues to facilitate a candid discussion with faculty and staff during a Sarasota-Manatee campus virtual town hall meeting in which participants were challenged to examine their own perceptions about race based on experiences, upbringing, geography and other factors.
Additionally, the new consolidated Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity will be facilitating campus-wide dialogues about racism throughout the year. “The Dismantling Racism Study Circles will give faculty and staff an opportunity to explore their feelings about race, racism, classism and other challenges that exist in the workplace,” said Posey.