Since 2012, when he became DMU’s director of multicultural affairs, Richard Salas, Ph.D., has worked to help students and employees learn about other cultures while becoming more aware of their own cultural biases. He has brought to campus a variety of speakers and presentations; helped organize cultural events; introduced the Safe Zone program to promote education, awareness, acceptance and confidential support of gender expression and sexual orientation; and implemented the Diversity Health Series, sessions developed by Kaiser Permanente that explore different cultures in the context of health care.
For his contributions and desire to help further enhance students’ cultural competency, Salas was selected as one of two chief diversity officer fellows for the 2015-2016 academic year by the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE). The program provides each fellow with mentoring from a senior level chief diversity officer with at least 10 years of experience, and a secondary mentor with complementary expertise, for guided professional development opportunities and experiences.
During the program, each fellow collaborates with her/his mentor to develop a diversity officer leadership plan and visits the mentor’s campus and learns about diversity issues, policies, procedures, politics and the campus climate of the mentor’s institution, as well as the mentor’s leadership style, strategies, successes and challenges. The mentor also visits the fellow’s campus to better understand his/her diversity issues and challenges. Throughout the balance of the academic year, the mentor and fellow meet regularly via teleconference.
NADOHE supports efforts and offers resources to lead higher education institutions toward inclusive excellence through best practices, professional development, networking and information about and influence on national and local policies. In February 2015, the organization selected DMU as the recipient of its Institutional Excellence Award, given annually to a college or university that has demonstrated measurable progress in promoting and sustaining innovative diversity efforts within its campus community.