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Jessamine Montero leads
new diversity initiatives

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Two major diversity initiatives - the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Network and the launch of a $25,000 grant program - demonstrate Slippery Rock University's continued commitment to diversity education and programs benefiting students, faculty, staff and the community, said Jessamine Montero, senior officer for diversity and inclusion, who is taking the lead on both programs.

The grant program begins Nov. 1. Faculty, staff and students will be able to apply for $2,000-$5,000 grants to support campus diversity education, programs, special events or activities.

"Diversity needs to become more a part of the daily operations at Slippery Rock University, not just something we are striving to do, or striving to be," Montero said. "We want diversity infused into all aspects of the culture."

The Diversity and Inclusion Network establishes a hierarchy and connections between the University's more than 60 diversity programs, presidential commissions, resource centers, clubs, student groups, projects and offices. Montero worked with University Public Relations to develop a graphic representation of the network. Daniele Jacobs, an art major from Cochranton, created the graphic that shows the programs and services offered under different diversity umbrellas. The graphic will be placed on the diversity and inclusion Web site, printed as a poster, displayed campuswide and emailed to those requesting more information about diversity at SRU.
Click image to enlarge

Robert Smith, SRU president, and Montero occupy the center position on the graphic. The Women's Commission, Disability Commission, Race and Ethnicity Commission and LGBTQI Commission surround them. Subordinate groups to the commissions are included in rings showing their connection to one of the commission. A ring around the Race and Ethnicity Commission includes the Frederick Douglass Institute, the Modern China Center, Black Caucus and Hispanic Latino Committee and other groups. The LGBTQI Commission references the LGBT Resource Center, RockOUT, Respect Team, NAACP College Chapter, Building Bridges and Student Union for Multicultural Affairs.

Montero said the network is "all about the different silos that we have on campus. It shows all the different programs, who has the expertise and who has the interest."

The network promises to raise awareness and get more people involved in diversity programs, Montero said. One of the challenges, she said, is diversity programs tend to be led by minorities and diversity activists, which she called "the diversity choir."

"We were shortchanging ourselves," she said. "We were not putting the universitywide call out. Now we are trying to branch out and reach a gazillion other people."

Montero said diversity progress and understanding begins with talking and self-awareness of what every individual should be doing to promote diversity. Diversity encompasses racial and sexual identity; women's issues; physical and mental disability; and other programs.

"The only way we can do it is if we are all talking so that we know what going on, so we're all looking forward to national Native American Celebration Day; so we're all aware of Coming Out Week and Disabilities and Mental Illness Week. That's how we make progress in the daily operation - by living it daily."

"Reaching for 2025 and Beyond," the University's strategic plan, identifies understanding other cultures as a priority. The need to understand other cultures begins by using campus as a laboratory for understanding multiculturalism and diversity, according to the plan.

Montero said many students demonstrate a superior awareness and commitment to diversity, because they grew up with it.

"In all honesty, our students and the demographics all across the nation, show that students are much more open, much more global," she said.

The new grant program was made possible with $10,000 from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, $10,000 from the Office of Finance and Administration and $5,000 from Academic Affairs.

Individual groups may apply for up to $2,000. If campus groups and clubs collaborate, they may apply for up to $5,000, Montero said.

Two co-chairs from the president's four commissions and Montero will award the grants. She said applicants would have to write a grant proposal and submit it to her office. Montero said a link would be added to the Web site before Nov. 1

Montero joined SRU in 2002 as assistant director of the Act 101 Program. She was named the senior officer for diversity and inclusion in 2009.

Montero received her doctor of education in administration and leadership studies from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She earned a master of business administration from Point Park University and a master's degree in psychology from Marshal University. She has a bachelor's degree from Marshall University and is certified by the International-National Coalition Building Institute. In 2009, Talk/Minority Opinion Magazine named her as a "Minority Achiever."

Social equity open all faculty, staf and students. Write a grant proposal, inclusive all two SGA. Open link online.