President's Monthly Reports
- Inclusion is about ALL of us
- Inclusion is about living full lives - about learning to live together.
- Inclusion makes the world our classroom for a full life.
- Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community.
- Inclusion is about our 'abilities' - our gifts and how to share them.
- From the Inclusion Network @ http://inclusion.com/inclusion.html
Inclusion is at the core of Linn-Benton Community College’s being. It’s first found in the prominent place that the word “All” holds in our Mission – “an education that enables ALL of us….” It’s further formed in our Values – “Inclusiveness: We honor and embrace the uniqueness of every individual, and promote the free and civil expression of ideas, perspectives and cultures.” And it makes tangible and measurable demands of us in our 2nd Strategic Goal – that Completion be equally achievable for all of our students, regardless of the circumstances and experiences and identities that they bring with them when they come to us: Equity. But perhaps the most important manifestation of Inclusion, and where it derives its greatest meaning, is in the lives that we at LBCC lead, both individually and collectively – when we become an embodiment of Inclusion.
This is how we define ourselves, what we stand for, and what we believe, and there’s some good evidence that we’re making progress in making this a reality for us. For instance, the raw number and percentage of graduates who are Latino has been increasing and is now in the range of the percentage of people in our District who are Latino (that’s Strategic Goal #2). But there’s also evidence that we have a ways to go.
Admittedly, there are a lot of challenges to doing (or being) Inclusion.
Our human tendency to gather together with likeminded people, reinforced by modern technology’s capacity to give us only the news, images, and even the “friends” that serve to reinforce what we already “know” limits the learning that comes from sharing our lives with people whose knowledge, beliefs, background, identity and ideology is different from ours.
Our human tendency to categorize people into groups and then assume that what we “know” about a group defines each of the individuals in that group and limits our ability to even be aware of our individual differences, much less be inclusive of them.
Here in Oregon, our limited experience with people from a variety of backgrounds other than our own makes us “un-practiced” in Inclusion.
And, our tendency to believe that Inclusion and Equity is a “zero sum game,” where limited resources end up being shared with more and more people, makes us fearful of what we might lose.
But Inclusion and Equity are not “zero sum games” but instead they are the key to providing us with the breadth of experience, perspective, and knowledge that forms the foundation for the insight and innovation that CREATES new resources for us all. Inclusion is “value added!” With this in mind, our State has adopted an Equity Lens through which we are invited to look at everything we strive for and everything we do, recognizing that our greatest ROI – return on investment – is to be found in our investing in those who are least likely to succeed without it. This is the key to realizing our greatest human potential…. the human potential of ALL of us!
I want to share with you just a few of the ways in which we at LBCC are actively pursuing the human potential of Inclusion and Equity.
At the level of State policy and funding for our community colleges, we are applying the Equity Lens to make sure our State’s valuable – and limited – resources are being focused on helping those who most need it in order to succeed. One example of this is our strong advocacy for student financial assistance that is need-based and not based on merit. Together with our Public Universities and our Student Groups, we are asking our Legislature to fully fund the Oregon Opportunity Grant before funding the Oregon Promise.
Our partnership with Achieving the Dream and Guided Pathways is focused not just on improving student success for all but especially on closing what some refer to as the “Achievement Gap” – the fact that some groups of students have historically been more (or less) successful than other groups. And what’s really interesting – and a bit disturbing – is that these achievement gaps do not seem to be related to student ability but instead to our colleges’ structural and cultural biases in how we serve and support our students. Of course, the good news here is that this means we can actually do something to close the gap because, while we may not be able to change everything “out there,” we know we can change ourselves.
In recognizing our cultural biases, we have begun to work on better understanding them so we can see and work beyond them. To help us with this, we recently had Dr. Robin D’Angelo on our campus and, if you were at this year’s OCCA annual conference at Sunriver, you may recall that we invited Dr. D’Angelo to work with us there as well. Her book, What It Means to be White, has been read by many on our campus as we continue to make Inclusion not just something we do, but something we ARE.
This past year have we added two positions to our staff, one to support our efforts to be more inclusive – more diverse – in our hiring of faculty and staff, and the other to support our work in recruiting a more diverse student body.
Finally, I want to share with you a “new” and somewhat novel effort to help make LBCC a more Inclusive learning community. I put the word “new” in quotations because, while I have a new appreciation for the role that this effort can play in our pursuit of Inclusion, this is something I have talked about almost from the time I came to LBCC over seven years ago….. that is “Bring All of Yourself to Work.”
Trained as a counselor, I know that we cannot be inclusive of those attributes in others that we try and hide or deny in ourselves. And being a student of human organizations (and a leader of one), I know that we are most comfortable, positive, and productive when we feel free to be fully ourselves. When we “leave part of ourselves at home” because we fear that those parts of ourselves may not be accepted in our workplace, we are likely to be unaccepting of those parts in others as well – in other faculty and staff, and in our students as well. In other words, Self-Inclusion and Inclusion are inseparable, and that’s why we’ve recently started a “Bring All of Ourselves to Work” group. Yes, there is potential here for conflict, potential for our differences to rub up against each other and maybe even irritate each other a bit, and this is a potential of Inclusion as well. But it is in these “conflicts,” guided toward resolution by a shared commitment to the creative potential of Inclusion, that we will better serve our students and many more of our students from increasing diverse backgrounds will experience success.
There are many things at LBCC about which we can be mighty proud, but for me my greatest pride comes in our passionate, persistent pursuit of the “All” in our Mission.