Faculty Retreat Focuses on Diversity

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Age, gender and race are common characteristics of diversity. At California Baptist University, faculty attended a retreat where they learned about student statistics and how to prepare meeting the needs of the diverse student population.

The two-day retreat started Aug. 24 and included several tracks that strategically covered aspects of diversity as it related to the Bible, the CBU organization, teaching methods and student needs.

Associate Provost Dawn Ellen Jacobs said that the faculty learned how to address issues of diversity in order to “prepare students for the world into which they graduate.”

“We need to teach them to be globally minded. And we need to learn how to equip students to engage in a diverse world that’s getting smaller all the time,” Jacobs said.

During the first day of the retreat, Associate Professor Jeff Mooney presented the biblical interpretation of diversity while others, such as Lecturer Julie David, discussed diversity as it applies to an individual.

Jacobs also presented a report titled, “CBU 100,” in which the student population was synthesized to 100 students. Using this number, Jacobs broke down the ethnicity represented on campus. Out of 100: 59 are white, 18 are Hispanic, seven are African-American, six self-identify as racially mixed, four are Asian, one is an international student and no more than one is likely to be Pacific Islander or American Indian.

She also explained that 61 students are female and only 39 are male.

Apart from race and gender, 89 come from Calif., 52 live on campus and 58 self-identify as politically conservative.

The following day, Jarrod Dobbins, assistant director of global mobilization, explained how the use of the program relates with the Great Commission and benefits students as they submerge into different cultures.

Jacobs described ISP and USP as a marriage between the “co-curricular and the academic.”

One of the outcomes of this retreat was to develop a plan of action in order to best serve CBU’s students.

Jacobs said John Montgomery, dean of spiritual life, offered faculty the opportunity to get involved “with the Office of Spiritual Life’s outreach programs and incorporate activities into the classroom.”

“They can engage the community at large as well as the community here at CBU,” Jacobs added.

In an effort to connect with the student population, Jacobs said that faculty was eager to serve as mentors to students.

“We will work with student services, be aware of needs that students have outside the classroom. Find the unique role faculty can fill,” she said. “The heart of this faculty is to serve.”

Another method used to equip faculty is Assistant Professor Jeff Lewis’ Perspectives class. This class is designed to teach God’s global activity and cultural perspectives. Faculty will also bring what they learned from the retreat into the classrooms.

“Apart from focusing on the student needs and accommodations, it was also vital to recognize the Christian concept of diversity,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said “we should celebrate our God-given unique features all for the same purpose, to serve the Kingdom of God.”

She used the passage in first Corinthians 12 that cites the different purposes of each body part. Jacobs explained that while each person is different, there is a unity that must be pursued. “We are all created different to work together,” Jacobs said.