On Tuesday, President Michael Roth ’78 announced Teshia Levy-Grant’s official appointment as the new Dean for Equity & Inclusion—prior to spring break, she occupied the position as interim dean.
In the email, Roth acknowledged the important work that the Equity & Inclusion Steering Committee did by helping decide on Levy-Grant’s appointment.
“I want to thank the members of the Equity & Inclusion Steering Committee for envisioning how the Resource Center, as their report notes, will help to meet the needs of students who are most vulnerable, maintain awareness of matters related to intolerance and inaccessibility, and empower collective work to address root issues of injustice and inequity,” President Roth wrote in his email.
The University has launched a number of initiatives to create a more diverse and inclusive campus, particularly over the past few years.
Vice President for Equity & Inclusion and Title IX Officer Antonio Farias asked Levy-Grant if she would be willing to take the position after conferring with the search committee.
“I asked the committee to review Dean [Levy-Grant’s] qualifications, and her experience in the interim position in an effort to retain what I saw as a stellar colleague who was already performing at the highest level,” Farias wrote in an email to The Argus. “They came back with a unanimous decision, as did the community feedback from 20+ students, faculty, and staff that engaged with her during her interview.”
However, the road to this appointment has a lengthier history. According to Farias, although this position had been part of the University support system for years, it was not a full-time dean position until he transformed the position in 2013.
Farias is confident that Levy-Grant will do a good job in this position, based on her previous successes.
“She has done an outstanding job, mirroring the success she had in turning around the Upward Bound program through innovative restructuring and student-focused educational programming that has made it a sustainable endeavor that serves Middletown, New Britain, and Meriden schools systems,” Farias wrote. “Wesleyan is fortunate, in that the best candidate was already here and doing the work.”
Equity Compliance Director and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Debbie Colucci felt similarly about the appointment of Levy-Grant.
“I am confident Dean Levy-Grant will be fantastic in this role,” Colucci wrote in an email to The Argus. “She is an agent of change. She has a strong record of developing and supporting programs and initiatives that promote and advance equity, access, and inclusion.”
Alumna and Associate Director of SALD Shelissa Newball ’05 was on the committee that helped select Levy-Grant. She feels that this appointment is one of the many positive changes the University is making to create a more inclusive space.
Newball cited her experience in the University’s STEM courses as an undergraduate, contrasting them with the current efforts to make the departments under the STEM umbrella more diverse.
“I started here at Wesleyan as a STEM major, and I left the major because there wasn’t that support, and I just felt like I was so lost,” she said. “So to see now that students have that support and our programs are being geared and things are being done to make sure that people stay in that major is phenomenal. That has been what’s coming through the office.”
The University’s efforts to create changes to be more inclusive are especially relevant given the current political climate and the impact that the University has on its community.
“I think it’s really important for students, and not just students of color or just women or another underrepresented group, just in general for students to feel like there’s some sense of community and support in this place where [they] are,” Newball said. “You spend so much of your time here, and I don’t think we think about how much time we spend at Wesleyan in this space with these people. So how is everyone being supported? I think, like I said, we didn’t have it in this form and this shape right now when I was an undergraduate student. It’s really comforting to know that there’s this continued movement toward this level of support.”