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K-State Today

January 25, 2021

Spring semester update from the chief diversity and inclusion officer

Submitted by Bryan Samuel

Greetings K-Staters,

The spring 2021 semester is finally here. We, like many other universities, are entering into a new year, with unwavering excitement for diversity, equity and inclusion for K-State. We've completed our University Climate Survey and 10 focus group sessions to better understand the climate survey data. Additionally, constituents across the university landscape have engaged in the work of creating a diversity and inclusion plan for our university. We are also ready to redeploy our Difficult Dialogues and Community Action Talks, or CATs, series. Please join me in extending a heartfelt thanks and debt of gratitude to all the faculty, staff, students and administrators who have worked to bring these initiatives to fruition. Please see below the diversity and inclusion initiatives for the start of the spring 2021 semester.

  • Student ombudsperson position announcement: Action Step No. 1 of the President’s Plan for a More Inclusive K-State is creating a Student Ombudsperson Office. In moving forward with that initiative we are excited to announce that the search committee is being assembled and the search is underway. 

The purpose of this position will be to provide guidance and direction to students regarding climate concerns and utilizing considerable judgment in understanding trends, areas of concerns and opportunities to enhance and sustain a campus characterized by respect for all students. The student ombudsperson is a concurrent appointment position that works closely with the university's chief diversity and inclusion officer to proactively and positively impact the university climate. The student ombudsperson will provide professional-level services in support of student concerns of equity, harassment and discrimination as well as assist the university with staying abreast of climate concerns for all student populations and ensure that students’ concerns are received, reviewed, and resolved by the appropriate units. The specific duties and responsibilities of the student ombudsperson include: 

    • Provides all students at the university a safe place for confidential consultation in assisting with the receipt and referral of any student concerns of equity and discrimination, grievance or appeal.
    • Listens to student concerns, values diverse perspectives, helps to explore options for resolution, provides facilitation or mediation services when appropriate, and remains impartial to all parties involved.
    • Helps to identify and refer student concerns to appropriate departments/units charged with receipt and review of said concerns.
    • Provide/offer coaching to students when necessary (e.g., preparation for difficult conversations) and initiate offers of assistance to students identified by university processes as "in need." 

Please submit a letter of interest accompanied by a resume/CV to Stefan Yates, special assistant to the chief diversity and inclusion officer, at syates@k-state.edu.

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Week will be Feb. 1-5. On Thursday, Feb. 4, the Office of the President and Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs will virtually present the annual MLK Observation Week Presidential Lecture, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This year's keynote speaker is Sandra Evers Manly, global vice president for diversity at Northrop Grumman. 
  • Difficult Dialogues returns for the spring semester with a session from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8. Dr. Don Saucier and Dr. Be Stoney will present "Empathy and Discovery in Class Discussions on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice." Interested faculty can find more information and sign up on the Difficult Dialogues webpage.
  • The next installment of our Community Action Talks, or CATs, series will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, and will discuss "Unpacking the Election." This discussion will be moderated by Dr. Sue Peterson, K-State's chief government relations officer, and will take a look at what changes we might see as a result of the change in administration in Washington, D.C., and across the country. Stay tuned for a more detailed announcement regarding this event.
  • The President's Commission on Multicultural Affairs has been working on the creation of a University Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Plan. The draft of the plan is now ready for your feedback. We invite all K-State students, faculty, staff and community members to review the Themes, Aims and Action Items of the Diversity and Inclusion Plan draft and share your thoughts in a brief survey. The survey will be open through Friday, Feb. 5.


Bryan Samuel, CCDP/AP
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer