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The Path to Equity and Diversity – Mitchell Community College

1852:  Mitchell Community College was chartered as a Presbyterian college for women. In the early years, faculty of the Concord Presbyterian Female College in downtown Statesville placed heavy emphasis on music and fine arts. This focus continued as the College evolved into Mitchell College in 1917, and when the College began a junior women’s college in 1924.

1932:  Many of Iredell’s young men found their dreams of a college education slipping away in the Great Depression, and Mitchell College responded by welcoming these men to campus. It was an economic decision in the midst of the Depression and considered temporary, but the inclusion of men became permanent.

Fall of 1967:  The College became racially integrated.  The yearbook for 1967-68 shows one African-American female – Bertha Faye Wellman. Yearbooks don’t always get a picture of every student, and there could have been others.

January 13, 1993:  The position of Director of Minority Affairs was created, and the first College celebration of MLK Day took place.  The President of the College, Dr. Douglas O. Eason, created the Diversity Task Force later in 1993.

March 1995:  Mitchell Community College hosted a statewide conference entitled “Diversity Is Good Business.”

June 1996:  The Viola Kimbrough Parker Diversity Award, named for a long-time College employee and tireless champion of diversity efforts, was established.

1994-2014:  The Diversity Task Force was created and spearheaded by Dr. Eason in 1994 after school-wide diversity training was required in 1993.  The Diversity Task Force, comprised of employee volunteers, coordinated readings, film screenings, and discussions to mark achievements of African Americans, Native Americans, the LGBTQ community, women and others.

2013-2014:  Dr. Tim Brewer, President, shifted the programmatic direction of the Diversity Task Force and refocused the work on assessing Mitchell’s own climate and identifying the range of our own populations. Instead of a Diversity Task Force, the administration charged a new Diversity Enrichment Committee (DEC) with collecting information from faculty, staff, and students, reporting the findings, and researching how other college campuses address and develop diversity and inclusion.

2014-2015:  To increase awareness of ways Mitchell can address Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Brewer inviting outside experts in diversity and inclusion to collaborate with the DEC, the President’s Council, Deans, Directors, and all full-time faculty and staff. These professionals continue to work with the College to seek out and act upon opportunities for improvement.

2017-2018:  19 faculty and staff members were trained to lead the Diversity and Cultural Competency initiative, as outlined in the strategic plan of Mitchell Community College. The DEC was superseded by the Equity and Inclusion Council (EIC), which is composed of several subcommittees (Executive Committee, Events and Planning Committee, a Resource and Communication Committee, and Curriculum Infusion Committee).

2019-2021: The work of the Equity and Inclusion Council continued including facilitation by all sub-committees, administration, and faculty and staff. Student engagement and dialogue involving the SGA, the SAFE Club, M2M, and the Student Ambassadors progressed during this time.  Continued professional development for faculty and staff including topics such as cultural competency, microaggressions, and inclusive advising were held.  The Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan was created in 2020 and approved in early 2021.  This plan incorporates the collaboration of the Curriculum Division, Human Resources, Student Services, and the Equity and Inclusion Council for the purpose of promoting equity and inclusion on campus through intentional efforts concerning marginalized, underrepresented, and at-risk students, faculty, and staff.