ND introduces diversity, inclusion director
Megan Valley | Friday, April 22, 2016
Faculty members welcomed Pamela Nolan Young, who was appointed earlier this month to the newly created role of Director of Academic Diversity and Inclusion, at a forum Thursday night in McKenna Hall. Young, Provost Tom Burish and several assistant provosts spoke about diversity and answered questions from faculty members.
Burish said the forum was about “big things,” such as the faculty climate on campus for inclusion and diversity.
“The recent focus on this topic started with the faculty experience survey, which was a recommendation of women faculty that came to see me a couple of years ago,” he said. “They suggested we do a survey so that all faculty could speak about their experiences at Notre Dame. It was a constructive, positive conversation. They were there to find solutions.”
Young will be in charge of coordinating the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts, specifically regarding the faculty climate.
“I’ve had three passions in my life: They are education, social justice and my faith,” she said. “As a law student in the late 1980s, I never imagined that those passions would evolve into a career path known as a diversity and inclusion practitioner.
“I’m here to be a resource for deans, for department chairs, for faculty, for students and for staff.”
A graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, Young said she was thrilled to be back at Notre Dame.
“I began my professional career here and it is my hope that I will end it here as well. In the almost 30 years in between, I’ve practiced law, I’ve taught legal research and writing, I’ve served as a college administrator, I’ve earned a degree in educational leadership and established a consulting business.”
With over 25 years of experience, Young will focus on addressing issues and weaknesses identified from the survey.
Burish said that many recommendations resulting from the survey had already been made to his office.
“The deans reported that in every school and college they met with some groups of faculty to talk about the survey results and to identify some ways of addressing the weakness and actions we could take at each level — department, college, university, etc. — and forwarded their recommendations to us,” he said. “I could not ask for more.”
Young said her passion for social justice started when she was a child growing up in rural Alabama; She said the year she entered first grade was the first year the school was desegregated.
“What we often think of now as social justice, I knew as a child as civil rights,” she said. “Often, we think of civil rights as a movement of the past. As champions of that movement pass, like our own Fr. Ted, it seems remote, distant and irrelevant. But for me and millions more, it is the story of our lives.”