Inclusive Excellence

 
 

Dean’s Message

kecia thomasAs a new Dean, I’m frequently asked about my goals for the College. Like many others in my role, I typically respond with talking about the important goals related to the retention and graduation of our students, the role of community engagement to serve our state and develop the career readiness of our students, as well as supporting the critical research and scholarship of our faculty. For me, accomplishing those goals means that our overarching goal must be to become a model of Inclusive Excellence.

I have spent almost 30 years as a professor of industrial/organizational psychology engaging in research and developing practices to support a variety of organizations in achieving their diversity-related goals. These organizations understood that given the complexity of the world today, we cannot truly be excellent without recruiting, retaining, and developing diverse talent. Diversity in our classrooms, laboratories, and studios helps us to be more transparent in our communication and motivates us to challenge our assumptions rather than rely on tacit knowledge and group-think that can derail and impair our decision making. Diversity also broadens the experiences, perspectives, and skills we use to analyze and solve our most pressing problems by expanding our tool kits. A diversity of talent helps us make better decisions that reflect and serve the richness of our community. Yet none of these benefits can be realized without a culture of inclusion.

It is critical that our diverse college of students, faculty, and staff have an opportunity to be excellent in their roles by making sure that we have a culture of Inclusive Excellence; that is, that each member of the College of Arts and Sciences understands that they have an opportunity for voice, a sense of value and of belonging, as well as feelings of investment and ownership in our collaborative mission to serve the educational needs of our community.

Kecia M. Thomas
Dean
College of Arts and Sciences

Academic Offerings

In 2020, the College of Arts and Sciences announced a new grants program aimed at supporting students’ diversity awareness and building their multicultural competence. Through the program — entitled Building a Multicultural Curriculum — faculty can access grants to develop new courses or revise existing courses. Faculty can use the funds to pay for instructional materials, professional development, student assistants, and salaries.

In its inaugural year, the program supported eight courses across the College. Below is a list of the 2020-2021 grant recipients and their respective courses:

  • Erin Borry, Ph.D., Department of Political Science and Public Administration: (In)equity in Public Administration
  • Olivio J. Clay, Ph.D., Department of Psychology: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research and the Workplace
  • Michele Forman, Department of History: Our Histories: Documentary Film and Public History in Birmingham
  • Reginald Jackson, Ed.D., Department of Music: African American Music from 1619-Present
  • Dione Moultrie King, Ph.D., Department of Social Work: The Health and Well-being of Black Americans: A Social Work Approach
  • Angela Lewis-Maddox, Ph.D., Department of Political Science and Public Administration: Social Justice and Pop Culture
  • Samiksha Raut, Ph.D., Department of Biology: Building a Multicultural Curriculum
  • Ana Maria Santiago, Department of English: Themes in Lit with a Latina-o-x American Identity Focus

Tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-earning CAS faculty can learn more about the program and the application process here.

reginald jacksonRead Dr. Reginald Jackson’s thoughts on his upcoming course, “African American Music from 1619-Present.”

"I am eagerly excited to provide our students the opportunity to explore the origins of African American Music. The influence of African culture on the development of African American Music cannot be underestimated. Additionally, this course will discuss the impact of contributors who created, preserved, and continue to diffuse this music throughout the world. Although the origin was, in many ways, very dark and difficult, the triumphs and the message of hope emerged into several unique styles of music that continue to touch lives in profound ways. This course surveys 400 years of music in context and culture while highlighting the musical contributions to African American Music. During this course, students will engage with live performances and discuss the improvisational nature which is inherent in Spirituals, Gospel, Jazz, Blues, and other styles of African American Music. This course is designed to provide historical fingerprints to the depth and breadth of African American Music from 1619 to the Present."

If you would like to learn more about other majors, minors, and courses that elevate Inclusive Excellence across the College — including the B.A. in African American Studies, Ph.D. in Medical Sociology, and M.A. in Anthropology of Peace and Human Rights — visit and explore our undergraduate degrees and/or graduate degrees pages.

Equity Advisors

The College of Arts and Sciences has three equity advisors who serve on the institution’s Equity Leadership Council and actively advise the dean and the College’s leadership team. Also, the equity advisors serve as a critical resource for faculty, staff, and students.

The equity advisors also co-chair the College’s Committee on Inclusive Excellence, support and monitor search committees, and collaborate with colleagues in the College and across the university to create and sustain an inclusive learning and work environment.


Meet the Equity Advisors

Kathryn Morgan, Ph.D.

Kathryn Morgan, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Criminal Justice
Director, African American Studies Program
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: (205) 975-9652
Office: HHB 321

About Dr. Morgan:
Dr. Morgan earned her B.A. in Sociology and M.A. in Sociology from Texas Women’s University. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Criminology from Florida State University. She is a professor of criminal justice and director of the African American Studies Program. Dr. Morgan's research interests include corrections (specifically probation and parole), correctional health care policy, race and crime, and criminal justice policy. See Dr. Morgan’s faculty bio.

Chris Biga

Chris Biga, Ph.D.

Teaching Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Director, Undergraduate Studies
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: (205) 934-8408
Office: HHB 460J

About Dr. Biga:
Dr. Biga earned his B.A. in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Nebraska. He went on to earn his M.A. in Sociology from the University of New Orleans and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Washington State University. The central tenet of his teaching philosophy for all undergraduate courses is to encourage students to develop and nurture critical thinking skills. Whether the class is Introduction to Sociology, Popular Culture, Environmental Sociology, Social Statistics, or the Research Experience course, Dr. Biga’s primary goal is to encourage students to critically evaluate the social world. See Dr. Biga’s faculty bio.

Christina Rodriguez

Christina Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: (205) 934-9897
Office: CH 231F

About Dr. Rodriguez:
Dr. Rodriguez received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Miami. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Florida. The primary emphasis of her current research involves understanding factors that exacerbate parental risk for physical child abuse, particularly psychological distress and cognitive processes that increase the likelihood that a parent will transition from using physical discipline to harsher and ultimately abusive discipline. See Dr. Rodriguez’s faculty bio.

Hear from Our Faculty and Alumni

At the start of the Fall 2020 semester, the College of Arts and Sciences ran a six-week social media campaign focusing on race and social justice and the College’s commitment to these issues. The idea was to highlight the College’s consistent offering of courses around these topics and offer encouragement for students, faculty, and staff looking for a diverse and inclusive community. The posts featured faculty and alumni quotes and course information organized under three categories — People and Communities, Culture and Media, and Politics and Protest — for a total of 17 unique posts published across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Institute for Human Rights

people walking outside during the Institute for Human Rights symposiumEstablished in 2014 by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for Human Rights began operations in 2016. Tina Kempin Reuter, Ph.D., was hired to lead the Institute in early 2016.

The Institute’s vision is to prepare, transform, and support the leaders of the global human rights community by creating innovative educational programs, research initiatives, and outreach solutions.

The Institute serves as an internationally renowned platform for interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration for scholars, educators, students, practitioners, and activists to raise awareness, engage in education, foster research, and design initiatives for practical action and outreach resulting in the promotion and protection of human and civil rights locally, nationally, and globally.

The Institute frequently publishes blogs that shed light on how fundamental human rights can be used to address global issues.

Institute for Human Rights Events

The Institute for Human Rights hosts and facilitates summits, conferences, and monthly Social Justice Cafes. The Institute invites faculty, students, staff, and community members to participate in these experiences — you can learn more about upcoming events using the links below.

 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Events