Colleges and universities within The Wesleyan Church (TWC) are implementing a variety of strategies and initiatives to support multicultural environments.
Houghton College’s Mosaic Multicultural Center has served as the university’s main resource to promote diversity and discipleship since it opened its doors on the Houghton, New York, campus in January 2018. The center hosts several discussions that aim to bridge cultural gaps.
“This initiative is centered around creating dedicated space to think creatively and faithfully about how to be a welcoming and loving multicultural community,” said Michael Jordan, Houghton’s dean of Chapel.
Southern Wesleyan University (SWU) has also taken steps to embrace a multicultural learning environment in the Central, South Carolina, area.
“With the help of a federal grant, SWU recently instituted a Student Support Services Program to provide many different types of academic support for low-income and first-generation college students,” said Ed Welch, SWU’s director of communications.
Welch also mentioned the Call Me MISTER program that prepares minority students to serve as educators in areas where it’s typically difficult to recruit teachers.
Kingswood University’s Haiti Initiative reaches across borders to encourage multicultural conversations and programs. The Haiti Initiative welcomes students from Haiti to bring their familiarities and culture to Kingswood, located in Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada. It also encourages them to develop broader understanding and experiences to bring to their native culture.
“We understand that diversity goes beyond what we’re looking to do in the Haiti Initiative,” said Kingswood President Steve Lennox. “But we do believe that it [the Haiti Initiative] will contribute to the broadening and culture sensitivity that diversity can bring.”
Megan England, media relations coordinator for Oklahoma Wesleyan University, said the Culture Connections group is bringing together different ethnicities represented on the Bartlesville, Oklahoma, campus.
“This year their big focus has been chapel,” said England. “They’ve helped host a Hispanic Heritage Chapel, a chapel for Black History month and are working on some more exciting stuff.”
Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Indiana, has taken to the classroom for some time now to embrace multicultural discipleship.
“The development of Unit Diversity Strategic Plans and the formation of Intergroup Dialogue Teams to help facilitate institution wide conversations have been the primary focus of Indiana Wesleyan University’s diversity and inclusion efforts this year,” said Diane McDaniel, vice president of Multicultural Enrichment. “IWU-Marion, National & Global and Wesley Seminary Diversity Strategic Plans are in the final phase of editing. The plan design comprises five dimensions: intergroup viability and vitality, campus climate and intergroup relations, education and scholarship, recruitment and retention, and outreach and community service.”
Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University is also engaging its faculty and students in multiethnic conversations.
“We try to be very intentional about the conversations we have in the classrooms—both face-to-face and online,” said Dr. Abson Joseph, dean of Wesley Seminary. “In terms of programs, we are developing a specialization in intercultural studies. We have an approved specialization in urban leadership under the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation. That program is going to be launched in Oakland, California. One of the residency classes is going to be taking place in Mississippi. We’re making decisions both in terms of the curriculum, what we put in it and even in terms of geographical distribution as far as where we go and what we offer.”
“This winter I had the privilege of visiting three of our five universities,” said Rev. Santes Beatty, TWC director of Multiethnic Ministries. “In each case I found these communities having either engaging conversations with students, faculty and administrators around issues of racial reconciliation and diversity or thinking strategically about creating new systems and positions to keep this work on mission and sustainable.
“I was reminded once again that this is a discipleship issue, not just diversity work,” Beatty said, “and that the movement is not limited to our churches but must be done with our students during this critical season of spiritual formation.”