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Sayers’ fund received warmly

Smedberg, Matthew | Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Faculty and staff have responded positively to the Friday announcement made by Valerie Sayers detailing a scholarship fund for minority students, to be supported by faculty through contributions from payroll deductions. Sayers, who made the announcement in her acceptance speech for the Sheedy Award for Excellence in Teaching, is a professor in the English department.”[Sayers’] initiative is an interesting approach,” said John Affleck-Graves, University vice president and associate provost. “It is important that we all work hard to achieve [a diverse campus] both in our student body and in the faculty.”Iris Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services, agreed. She said she also hopes to see faculty initiatives aimed at supporting diversity among their own ranks. “I admire the faculty in creating this scholarship. I also believe that they should consider establishing support programs for their colleagues of color,” she said. “Per my perspective, if students see diversity in the faculty ranks, they [will] think that the University is attempting to meet the challenge of diversifying all areas of the Notre Dame community.”Sayers said she was donating the monetary part of the Sheedy Award to the new fund to help it get started. It is unclear how many faculty are likely to contribute, but Mark Roche, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, is one of several to pledge support. “Those of us who contribute to such an initiative with our own personal funds will benefit not only from the quality and kind of student we attract, but also from the stronger emotional connections we will gain to Notre Dame in the process,” Roche said. “Contributing to such an initiative allows us to commit to the University’s highest ideals in a way that transcends and complements our intellectual contributions.”Affleck-Graves also said that “[We] have a very generous faculty who contribute to a multitude of important causes from United Way to the missions in Uganda and Bangladesh, so my presumption is that there will be support for this proposal.”Carol Mooney, also a vice president and associate provost, applauded the measure while noting that it cannot stand alone. Efforts to build diversity, she said, “are built piece by piece, like a mosaic; when enough pieces are in place, a clear and coherent picture emerges.””This particular piece is especially powerful because it is built on the commitment of individual members of the community.”Other pieces of this mosaic should include “programs for underrepresented students which encourage them to pursue terminal degrees,” said Outlaw, as well as measures to help ensure “that we see more than the Western and European ideology. There have been significant contributions from members of other ethnic backgrounds.”