Mary E. Graham, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Sport Management, has been named Falk College associate dean of faculty affairs effective Jan. 2, 2024. This newly created leadership position reports to Falk College Dean Jeremy Jordan and is dedicated…
Office of Diversity and Inclusion Selects 2 Staff Members for Administrative Fellowship
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) has announced that Jorge A. Castillo and Amy Messersmith have been awarded the ODI Administrative Fellowship. Earlier this year, ODI invited staff members to apply for the fellowship in an effort to further elevate diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility on campus, as well as promote leadership and professional development for University employees.
Castillo and Messersmith will each conduct research projects to advance the priorities outlined in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Strategic Plan.
Castillo, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, plans to develop and implement a trans employee toolkit. “Syracuse University is committed to being a safe and welcoming campus for all community members, as reflected in its nondiscrimination and equal opportunity policy statement. This includes people of all gender identities and expressions,” says Castillo. “However, to implement this policy, University employees must be provided with the resources necessary to attract, retain and promote the best talent. This includes ensuring that trans and nonbinary individuals are treated with respect and dignity to foster a sense of belonging.”
The trans employee toolkit proposed by Castillo has two target audiences: potential employees or current employees who are trans and/or transitioning (socially and/or medically), and supervisors, managers, co-workers or hiring managers who can ensure that all employees have a sense of belonging at Syracuse University. During The D.E.I.A. Symposium, which was presented by the ODI on Oct. 3, Castillo hosted a roundtable along with campus partners to discuss what trans inclusivity looks like in the current political climate that has seen close to 570 anti-trans bills introduced this year alone.
“The toolkit will provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ where folks can find information on updating University systems to reflect their name, pronouns and legal sex designation; suggestions on how to share their identities (should they choose to) with their supervisor and team members; how to navigate trans health if using University insurance; and off-campus resources to access medical services, social and community networks,” says Castillo.
Amy Messersmith, associate director of the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program and TRIO Student Support Services—part of the School of Education’s Center for Academic Achievement and Student Development—plans to facilitate storytelling through podcasting. “My goal is to tell stories from the campus community that pertain to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in some way,” says Messersmith. “My hope is to humanize one another through personal storytelling as a way to tap into our shared humanity.”
Messersmith’s proposed pop-up podcast studio will allow her to capture stories anywhere on campus, not just in a specific studio, aimed at fostering inclusion and belonging focusing on students and their lived experiences; administrative offices to humanize and help build connections across campus between staff; and other topics that might emerge out of discussions and meetings that Messersmith has as an ODI fellow.
“The intended outcome for these podcast projects is that it brings us closer together as a campus community and therefore strengthens our sense of belonging and inclusion on campus,” says Messersmith. “In a safe environment, campus community members will share stories in a way that allows the listener to find themselves in each other’s stories. We want to humanize each other across the silos of the University, and we want to tap into our shared humanity as individuals with different backgrounds and identities.”
Messersmith’s vision came to life when she recorded her first episode of the podcast on Sept. 29, at the Intercultural Collective. “It’s rewarding to see an idea come to fruition. I was able to sit down with some amazing students to share their stories with openness, honesty and courage,” she says. Messersmith’s plan is to release the podcasts on a monthly basis in the future.
“The projects that both Jorge and Amy will complete as our inaugural administrative fellows align directly with the needs I have heard from campus,” says Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Mary Grace Almandrez. “Staff, students and faculty seek inclusion on campus. Jorge’s toolkit is a tangible inclusion resource, and Amy’s stories will highlight the ways our students and staff find community on campus.”