Pacificans participate in national DEI institute

Executive Assistant May Tag Yang and Vice President for Diversity Equity and Inclusion Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi

Executive Assistant May Tag Yang and Vice President for Diversity Equity and Inclusion Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi coordinated the Institute for Equity in the Academic Experience event on the Stockton Campus.

Faculty, staff members and students were immersed in a recent virtual national institute that strengthened their resolve to make University of the Pacific a model anti-racist university.

The 2022 Summer Institute for Equity in the Academic Experience drew participants from 50 universities and colleges, with much of the heavy lifting centered at 11 leadership sites including Pacific, Princeton, Claremont-McKenna, Ohio State and institute sponsor Georgetown. The leadership sites were responsible for conducting institute workshops and went through rigorous scrutiny for their projects.

Pacific has a strong tie to Georgetown through alumnus and Regent Randall Bass ’81, who serves as vice president for strategic education initiatives and professor at the university. Bass worked with Pacific’s 16 team members over three days to develop an action plan they hope will lead to “best-in-class” anti-racism work.

“We built upon the work from our May retreat with DEI leaders,” said Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at Pacific. “We are looking to build community, create a shared vision and develop planning and implementation that is collective.”

Wardell-Ghirarduzzi said while important work is being done in Pacific’s schools, colleges and departments, there must be unity moving forward to become an anti-racist institution—the project goal team members decided on at the institute.

“It was very personal the way they structured the institute. After you listened to a group of presenters, you immediately met with your team to figure out ‘what can we do on our campus? How can we activate equity?’” said Irene Camy, director of cooperative education in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. “Also, for our project, there was immediate and tangible feedback. It was motivating.”

Added Rupa Balachandran, associate dean of student and faculty affairs for the School of Health Sciences: “I came away feeling very energized with ideas. Knowing there are others in your organization who understand the work that needs to be done is empowering.”

Wardell-Ghirarduzzi said there is strong commitment by the Pacific team members.

“I believe if you bring together good people with good intentions, good things are going to happen. This institute was both a vision and a manifestation of what I would like to see across our entire university,” she said.