Augustana College has received an international award for excellence in diversity. Of over 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, Augustana was one of 90 total recipients, one of 4 in Illinois, and a much smaller institution than other winners.
Dr. Monica Smith is the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Augustana. She says the college's success in diversity isn't just about individual events—like when her office brought Yusef Salaam of the Central Park Five to speak on racism in the justice system—or individual policies—like the Preferred Name policy that allows students to choose what their professors call them. She says it's about being intentional when creating a positive campus culture.
"It also means that we're not doing a lot of things in a reactive way, but that we... have a planned process that we're moving forward with and that we're making sure that we're remaining relevant."
The Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award isn't all Augustana is celebrating. The Quad Cities Community Foundation has awarded the college a $17,000 grant to host Racial Healing Circles for the community.
"The healing circles are centered around people's identities, and we will begin with questions and answers. And we will listen to each other and talk about what that feels like and try to understand both intellecutally and affectively another person's experience, and then be able to move on."
Smith says the grant money will go towards compensating speakers, technology fees, and refreshments—in case these discussions are able to take place in-person.
This week, the college participated in Scholar Strike, a nationwide movement in which professors stopped coursework to host teach-ins on racial justice.