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Occupying the Academy

Just How Important Is Diversity Work in Higher Education?

Edited by Christine Clark; Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner and Mark Brimhall-Vargas

In the wake of the election of President Obama, many diversity scholars and practitioners imagined that renewed commitments to educational equity and justice were just around the corner. Unfortunately, the opposite has become the Obama-era reality. Across the country, equity and diversity workers at all levels in university and colleges, but especially Chief Diversity Officers in public institutions, are under assault. Is this assault a result of a pre-meditated and carefully calculated conservative political agenda or the unfortunate consequence of how largely white, politically conservative—and the power bases they represent—are expressing their anger about the changing racial landscape in the United States? This volume explores and deconstructs the reasons for this assault from various perspectives. This volume also illustrates how the national assault on equity and diversity has resulted in a continuum. At one end are “diversity-friendly” institutions that are benignly neglecting equity/diversity efforts because of state budget crises. At the other end of the spectrum are the deliberate efforts being made to systematically dismantle equity and diversity work in especially politically conservative states. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 278Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-1-4422-1272-5 • Hardback • August 2012 • $81.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-4422-1274-9 • eBook • July 2012 • $77.00 • (£49.95)
Christine Clark is professor and senior scholar for multicultural education, and founding vice president for diversity and inclusion at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Clark was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in México and Guatemala, where she conducted research on school and community violence.

Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner is the Shirley B. Barton and Assistant Professor in elementary education at Louisiana State University. His areas of expertise include educational foundations, pre-service teacher development, reflective practice, literacy, second language development, critical race theory, culturally relevant pedagogy, and multicultural education.

Mark Brimhall-Vargas is the associate director of the Office of Diversity Education and Compliance (ODEC), an arm of the Office of the President, and a visiting scholar for Multicultural Education and Organizational Development in the Center for Leadership and Organizational Change (CLOC), both at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Sonia Nieto

The Permanence of Diversity
Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Christine Clark, and Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner

La Permanencia de la Diversidad
Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Christine Clark, y Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner

Occupying Academia, Re-Affirming Diversity
Christine Clark, Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner, and Mark Brimhall-Vargas

Stories from the Chief Diversity Officer Frontlines
Bailey Jackson

Case 1: Extra, Extra, Read All About It! Diversity Soul-ed Out (and Sold/Out) Here
Christine Clark

Case 2: Balancing Act: A Contextual Case Analysis on Re-Centering Diversity in the Midst of Social and Economic Fluctuations
Katrice A. Albert and Marco J. Barker

Case 3: Deconstructing Hope: A Chief Diversity Officer’s Dilemma in the Obama Era A. Leslie AndersonCase 4: Transforming Lives and Communities: Case Study of a Diversity and Community Engagement Portfolio at a Flagship Institution
Gregory J. Vincent, Sherri L. Sanders, and S. Kiersten Ferguson

Case 5: Southern Predominantly White Institutions, Targeted Students, and the Intersectionality of Identity: Two Case Studies
Allison Daniel Anders, James M. DeVita, and Steven Thurston Oliver

Stories from the Mid-Level Administrator Frontlines
Bailey Jackson

Case 6: The Myth of Institutionalizing Diversity: Structures and the Covert Decisions they Make
Mark Brimhall-Vargas

Case 7: Swimming up Mainstream: Facing the Challenges to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion on a University of ACME, Regional Campus in Obama’s Era Virginia Lea, Hollace Anne Teuber, Glenda Jones, and Susan Wolfgram
Case 8: The Search for Questions and Tellings of Silenced Students
Douglas J. Loveless and Bryant Griffith
Case 9: The Evolution of a Campus: From the Seat of the Civil War to a Seat on the Freedom Rides
Shaunna Payne Gold and Leah K. Cox

Case 10: The Unmet Promise: A Critical Race Theory Analysis of the Rise of an African American Studies Program
Michael E. Jennings

Stories from the Faculty Frontlines
Bailey Jackson

Case 11: “Just (Don’t) Do It!” Tensions Between Articulated Commitments and Action at The ACME State University
Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner and Vanessa Dodo Seriki

Case 12: Déjà Vu:Dynamism of Racism in Policies and Practices Aimed at Alleviating Discrimination
Shirley Mthethwa-Sommers

Case 13: “Isn’t Affirmative Action Illegal?”
Eugene Oropeza Fujimoto

Case 14: Equity at the Fringes: The Continuing Peripheral Enactment of Equity and Diversity in the Preparation of K-12 Teachers
Roderick L. Carey and Laura S. Yee

Case 15: On the Battlefield for Social Justice in the Education of Teachers:
The Dangers and Dangerousness of Challenging Whiteness in Predominantly White Institutions and Teacher Preparation Programs
Brenda G. Juárez and Cleveland Hayes

So What? Who Cares? And What’s Our Point About Diversity?
Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell

Carta Abierta: Una Lamada para Ocupar
KennethJ. Fasching-Varner, Christine Clark, y Mark Brimhall-Vargas

An Open Letter: A Call to Occupy
Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner, Christine Clark, and Mark Brimhall-Vargas

Damon A. Williams

Editor and Contributor Biographies
This book looks courageously at diversity in higher education through critical, social justice-oriented theoretical lenses. The strength of this edited volume rests in the various case studies as told from the perspective of academic leaders specifically employed as Chief Diversity Officers, Mid-Level Administrators, and faculty members. These case studies uncover the persistent challenges of racism in higher education. This volume also highlights the incredible resistance and resilience, embedded in both individual and collective agency, that can move institutions of higher education forward. While asking, ‘Just How Important Is Diversity Work in Higher Education?’ this volume responds by illuminating its potential role to genuinely affirm our humanity, to pursue continual (institutional) improvement, and to realize the call to justice.
Francisco A. Rios, Western Washington University

The editors of this volume take on the ambitious project of examining race and racism in higher education. This volume particularly appeals to those interested in applying a variety of critical lenses to explain the persistence of racial inequality and it’s relationship to white privilege.
Adrienne D. Dixson, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

To explore race/racism in the Obama era is to question how race/racism could persist simultaneously with the election of the country’s first black president. The conversations around President Obama buttressed against the stories of equity/diversity workers in this volume are a constant reminder that the journey to a society devoid of race/racism is ongoing. However, with the type of honesty and courage represented in this volume…we may yet get there. After all, thejourney to the promised land requires an acceptance of the past, energy to redress the patterns that perpetuate discrimination in the present, so the future looks very different.
Kimberly L. King-Jupiter, Albany State University

Occupying the Academy is a compelling and important examination of the realities of race and racism in higher education. It brings to light how inequity not only continues to manifest itself through institutions, but the subversive and shifting composition of whiteness as a powerful and controlling entity in the workplace. Some readers will be shocked, others will be validated; all readers will continue to be disappointed by the enabled assaults on equity/diversity workers and their work.
Thandeka K. Chapman, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Occupying the Academy comprises a variety of case studies of diversity work at different public colleges and university, illustrating a broad range of institutional attitudes toward diversity work -- from nominal support to outright hostility.
Inside Higher Ed

In Occupying the Academy: Just How Important Is Diversity Work in Higher Education?,” the authors describe eight configurations of diversity structures they found in use at colleges and universities. The configurations ranged from having he president claim the additional title or responsibility, either to foster or subvert the diversity effort, to having real diversity infrastructure in evidence. The “to-do list of issues that the people Christine Clark, one of the book’s editors, calls “diversity workers” must tackle are becoming more varied and complex, reaching far beyond racial/ethnic diversity or gender equity.
The Chronicle of Higher Education