Diversity

by Mark Wilcox, University Marketing and Communications
 

Following an exhaustive search, Michigan Tech has named Wayne M. Gersie as its first Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion effective Nov. 1.  In his role, Gersie will work to identify and address organizational and systemic issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion on Michigan Tech’s campus. This includes developing policies and best practices in operational areas including human resources, finance and academic affairs.

“I would like to thank Kellie Raffaelli and the members of the search committee for a terrific job,” said Rick Koubek, president. “Wayne’s extensive expertise in diversity and inclusion will greatly complement our ongoing efforts and I look forward to working with him to advance these important initiatives.”

Gersie currently serves as Assistant Research Professor and Chief Diversity Officer for the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State, and is the founder and principal of Oasis Strategic Consulting LLC.  He has earned his PhD in Workforce Education and Development, with emphasis on Human Resources and a Masters in Counselor Education, both from Penn State.  Additionally, he holds certificates from the Harvard University Institute for Management & Leadership Education, Cambridge MA and Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

 Additionally, Gersie has been recognized for his service with multiple awards, including The Pennsylvania State University, College of Engineering Ally recognition award. The Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Equity and Inclusion Award, The Penn State Multicultural and the Resource Center Faculty/Staff Diversity Recognition Award. He has also served his community, region and nationally as a committee member, panelist, and keynote speaker for many organizations including The Pennsylvania Human Relation Commission Advisory Council for Centre County, The Penn Civilians, Chair and member of The Penn State Council of College Multicultural Leadership,  National Association for Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates, American Society of Engineering Education, Black Engineer of the Year Award, Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, The Tapia Conference and the National GEM Consortium.

"I am humbled and honored to accept this role," Gersie said. "I very much look forward to collaborating with the faculty, staff, and students across the University, as Michigan Technological University strives to reach its diversity, equity, and inclusion aspirations.  In the words of Helen Keller, 'Alone, we can do so little. Together we can do so much.' Campus culture will be enhanced as we work together with respect and openness towards a community where differences are valued, equal access, opportunity, and representation are achieved, and we are able to sustain an inclusive environment where all feel a sense of belonging."   

The Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion position was created based upon the recommendation of the Tech Forward Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and will serve a member of the senior leadership team. After a review of all applicants, the search committee recommended four finalists, who interviewed on campus in late August and early September. 

Respect, Reason, and Responsibility

A message from President Koubek, 

October 1,2020

Our campus community is enriched by each individual voice on our campus. This includes our students, faculty, and staff who are first-generation, minority, LGBTQ+, nontraditional, traditional, commuter, residential, in-state, out-of-state, international, conservative, and liberal. We respect and celebrate the unique perspectives each of you offer.

Unfortunately, choices made by some individuals during events this past weekend tested the unity of our campus community and raised questions about the role a public university plays in protecting First Amendment rights. 

As a public university, Michigan Tech is fundamentally bound to uphold the Constitutional right to free speech. We are legally prohibited from abridging free speech rights beyond restrictions on time, place, and manner, which are content and viewpoint neutral. And, as a taxpayer-funded entity, we cannot approve or deny requests from external or internal groups to use University space based on that group’s perspective. 

However, as an institution of higher learning, we also emphasize a value system that prioritizes a respectful, diverse, and inclusive campus community. Our Student Code of Community Conduct promotes the mutual and respectful exchange of perspectives, personal experiences, and ideas that enhance the quality of our learning, interactions, and world view. With that said, everyone has the right to freedom of expression. But, in no way does the University condone hate speech or language that incites violence or fear. 

Some of you have emailed me to express your frustration. Others have voiced their concerns publicly. Over the next few weeks, I, along with faculty, staff, and student representatives, will meet with our campus community to listen to your concerns, learn from your experiences, and collaborate on ideas that promote safety, inclusivity, equity, and respect on our campus. 

We also encourage faculty, staff, and students to reflect on ways they can facilitate respectful dialogue among our broader community. In our multiple roles as parents, friends, club members, or members of faith communities, we can use our skills to demonstrate our values of diversity, inclusivity, and respect for differences.

The weeks leading up to the election will certainly test our resolve, both individually and as a campus community. We encourage you to demonstrate how free speech contributes to, rather than detracts from, the democratic process by using your free speech rights. We implore you to serve as a model for respect and reason. And, please vote.

 

Diversity is the differences each of us brings through our backgrounds—including race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, height, weight, genetic information, socioeconomic class, marital status, disability, and veteran status.

Equity and inclusion helps overcome obstacles to access active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity in our communities (e.g., intellectual, social, cultural), increasing awareness and knowledge of the complex ways people interact.

The desire to seek knowledge and understanding unites us. Respectful exchanges of our perspectives, experiences, and ideas broaden learning, interactions, and worldviews.

Michigan Technological University is located within Ojibwa (Chippewa) homelands and ceded-territory established by the Treaty of 1842, the territory of Native American nations in Gakiiwe'onaning (Keweenaw Bay), Gete-gitgaaning (Lac Vieux Desert), Mashkii-ziibing (Bad River), Odaawaa-zaaga'iganing (Lac Courte Oreilles), Waaswaaganing (Lac Du Flambeau), Miskwaabikong (Red Cliff), Wezaawaagami-ziibiing (St. Croix), and Zaka'aaganing (Sokaogon Mole Lake).

Michigan Tech's Diversity Statement can be found here.

Full Engagement in University Life

Community: working together we are stronger.

Michigan Tech strives to build diversity, equity, and inclusion. We challenge our community to see differences as strengths. We improve campus culture to develop a diverse community that ensures equal access, opportunity, participation, and representation.

Working together we are stronger.

Together, we create and sustain an inclusive and respectful atmosphere, working toward a sustainable, just, and prosperous world.

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