“Who here used to watch The Andy Griffith Show?” asked Calvin Hill, Vice President for Inclusion and Community Engagement, as he stood in front of a crowd of 50 people in the Dodge Ballroom Tuesday, Nov. 10.
The gathering was put in place as a presentation of Hill’s plans for the future and how he envisions his role and the college will develop through time when it comes to diversity, inclusion and community connection.
“I loved The Andy Griffith Show,” continued Hill. “Every day after school I would turn on the TV and be taken to Mayberry. But in reality, Mayberry is a thing of the past.”
Hill and the rest of the crowd were not there just to reminisce about Mayberry and its occupants but the town did serve as the perfect example of a place where diversity did not exist.
In Hill’s words diversity should be in terms of, “diversity of thought, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, socio-economic background, ability, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and religious belief.”
In Mayberry none of that was present. And in today’s society, Mayberry would be irrelevant.
Diversity is commonly referred to as a black and white issue yet it goes beyond that. Hill’s presentation, and even presence on campus, is to expand Springfield’s diversity and inclusion through all facets of the word.
“Just because Springfield College hired Calvin Hill doesn’t mean they are done,” stated Hill.
The main topic of Hill’s open conversation was the idea of asking, why. Why should Springfield College embrace diversity? Are we, as an institution, ready to embrace diversity?
From the years 2002 to 2012, demographics of United States school children have changed.
In that 10-year period, the white and black enrollments dropped from 59 percent to 51 percent and 17 percent to 16percent respectively. The most growth was seen in the Hispanic population enrollment, increasing from 18 percent in 2002 to 24 percent in 2012. The Asian population also saw a slight increase during that time, 3 percent to 4 percent.
These demographic shifts are expected to continue in coming years. According to Hill’s PowerPoint, white students are expected to be 46 percent, blacks 15 percent, Hispanics 29 percent and Asians 6 percent.
With population growth and increases in demographics throughout school systems around the country, it only makes sense that Springfield College prepares and is ready and willing to take on diversity growth.
While a move towards more diversity is practical, there are moral reasons as well.
That is why Hill is here, in his position, and ready to make a change.
Hill likes to call his position chief diversity officer which he defines as someone that can, ”conceptualize, define, assess, nurture and cultivate diversity as an institutional and educational resource.”
Not only that but he will act as a bridge between campus and the Springfield community, promoting on-campus collaboration but off-campus togetherness as well.
Although very much in the planning phase, Hill, like Dr. Mary-Beth Cooper when she stepped into her role as president, has a five-year plan that includes an array of different objectives from making Springfield a college ‘town’ to enhancing all students’ diversity related education experiences.
Hill remains adamant that it is, “not the Calvin Hill show.” Diversity and inclusion change can only happen as a community effort. The college has to be willing to change.
Diversity and inclusion have been a prominent focus on campus this year but change takes time. What Hill and all those that see his vision have started to do is lay the groundwork for a more diverse and inclusive campus.
David McMahon might have summed the conversation up best when he said, “The mission states ‘service to humanity’ and the most diverse group on this earth is humanity.”
Hill’s presentation was only the beginning. Diversity and inclusion are the future and Springfield College is starting to build its foundation of improvement.