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The Diversity Center announces rebranding: The Center for Inclusive Excellence seeks to broaden their reach | The Gustavian Weekly

By Emily VanGorder - Staff Writer | September 20, 2019 | News

The Diversity Center has officially been renamed “The Center for Inclusive Excellence.”

During the 2018- 2019 academic year, conversations focused on “ways to change mindsets and habits” were held on campus, and it was decided that “one of the ways we could [do this] was by chang[ing] the name to The Center for Inclusive Excellence” Diversity Center Director Thomas Flunker said.

The Center will still participate in and host social events, dinners, and educational and academic programs. In addition to working full- time, the center staff works as advisors and serves on cross campus committees.

The suggested name change was approved at the President’s Cabinet meeting on August 27th. The name change “activates several collaborative and cohesive elements that go beyond just our department,” Flunker said.

“The name includes an aspirational objective… to be inclusive, and to do this in an exceptional way… and the new name does more to explain what we want our endeavors to convey, foster, and promote… it also includes one of the five core values at Gustavus- excellence- and directly correlated to new efforts for the 2019-20 year, as well as correspond[ing] with the Inclusive Excellence movement”, a movement which is currently being instituted in schools nationwide, Flunker said.

Once the name change was announced to student staff workers, “[we] were allowed to learn more about the reasoning behind the name change and allowed the opportunity to share thoughts on it,” Senior Nathan Thao said.

Overall, students seem to be responding positively to the name change. “I hope to see students utilize it [The Center] more often and to get new faces in here… The Center is a great place to study, meet new people, and enjoy their meals. It’s a safe place to be themselves… In my third year as an employee, I’ve had the privilege of meeting individuals with amazing ideas, personalities, and traits,” Thao said.

The Diversity Center “has had a presence on the Gustavus campus since the spring of 1999. During that span of time leading up to today, our campus has seen significant demographic changes, not just in the faces that are visibly present, but also in the backgrounds and intersecting identities that are representative of our student body,” Flunker said.

“In recent years, there has been a shift in focus on many college campuses, including our own. While acknowledging and celebrating the increased diversity that our campus community is experiencing… it is not enough that we educate and put an emphasis on the “difference” aspect of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Flunker said.

“For many, the term ‘diversity’ has come to be synonymous with black, brown… anything not white. This mindset often either hijacks the full breakdown of what the department does, or reduces the Diversity Center to solely the space where students of color go to hangout,” Flunker said.

There is currently a movement through the country which is provoking many “of our institutions to go beyond focusing solely on the differences that students and employees are bringing to campus. This new push is also making sure that… we are purposefully working toward being welcoming and inclusive in our endeavors, as well as ensuring that every individual on campus not only feels like they belong, but actually do,” Flunker said.

The name change to “The Center for Inclusive Excellence”, also known as The Center, does not change the department’s core values. “If anything, it helps to highlight the mission, goals, or endeavors that the department already holds…it helps to highlight those elements by providing a broader perspective,” Flunker said. “Our motto remains: “All Means All’’, Flunker said.

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