Calvin Hill Steps Into Inclusion and Community Engagement Role

Photo courtesy of Springfield College.
Photo courtesy of Springfield College.

Patrick Kenney

Editor In Chief

In the world of The Walking Dead there are only two groups of people, the living and the dead.

Once the dominant species of the world, the living have retreated back to the most basic human instinct: survival. The climate throughout the world has changed and the living know they don’t belong.

Dr. Calvin Hill, although a fan of the show, does not want Springfield College to become a place where one group of people feel like they do not belong.

“I want to develop a climate on campus where everyone belongs and where everyone feels welcome,” Hill said.

Springfield College is by no means the apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead, but it has had its fair share of ups and downs when it comes to inclusion on campus.

“I am here to look at what exactly it is that we [as a campus] are doing when it comes to inclusion and community engagement,” Hill said.

After a nationwide search, President Mary-Beth Cooper announced in May that Hill would be stepping into the role of vice president for inclusion and community engagement whicht Hill says is the “right position” for him.

“I know there is confusion of what exactly I do and what my role is on campus,” Hill said. “But I am here to represent the campus in our community, work with our neighboring associations, gain an understanding of the Springfield community and make all of campus a place where everyone feels comfortable to be.”

Born and raised in Texas, Hill is no stranger to the struggle minority groups face but despite his activism as a student throughout high school his diversity career path did not develop until after college.

Graduating from Bethany College, in Kansas, with a bachelors of arts in history and political science, Hill started as an admissions counselor at McPherson College.

It was there where he saw his career path take a different turn.

“At McPherson I sort of became the default minority recruiter which allowed me to connect and interact with all kinds of students,” Hill said. “That job helped to move me into a career path of diversity.”

Hill, determined to further his education, went on to earn a masters degree from Emporia State University and a doctorate from Howard University.

It was at that point in his life that Hill, with the help of some mentors, knew his calling was for higher education.

In 2003, Hill became director of minority affairs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

“[At WPI] I had more responsibilities in diversity,” Hill said. “Through my work with WPI and Worcester State, Worcester became my home.”

At Worcester State, Hill served as the director of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity.

Although Hill is new to Springfield College the fight he is joining is not.

Springfield College has a rich history when it comes to diversity on college campuses.

In 1906, William Beckett, an African American, became the first person to receive a degree from the College, which was then called the International YMCA Training School.

In 1964 Springfield College President Glenn Olds fought off the FBI in order to have Martin Luther King Jr. speak at the commencement ceremony.

Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex on college campuses, was passed in 1972, nine years after Springfield had already initiated four women’s athletic teams (basketball, field hockey, softball and tennis).

Despite history’s positive diversity slope, recent years have shown that this campus is in need of people like Hill.

“I am fueled by providing access to all members of the campus,” Hill said. “We are here to provide higher education to all minorities. This job is near and dear to my heart. Springfield College has a great wealth of history but it’s about what we are doing now.”

Hill’s presence on campus will be felt but he knows it’s not about him; it’s about the students.

While Springfield College hasn’t become that apocalyptic wasteland seen in The Walking Dead, its sense of community and belonging has taken a hit over the past couple of years.

Last year’s Humanics Professor, Marty Dobrow, devoted his time to issues of diversity and often brought to light that the campus is “too white” and that the student body and faculty need more diversity for a college campus in 2015.

“Springfield is a generally good-hearted place, but we have not always been as accepting as we should be-or need to be,” Dobrow said.

The students, with the influence of Cooper, Hill and others, have the ability to salvage these past scars and Hill is more than ready to take on the challenge.

“I’m exited. Springfield College is a special place,” Hill said. “A place where we can really make a difference and better understand the world around us.”

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