Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Diversity Digest Volume 8, Number 2

Diversity Digest
Volume 8,
Number 2

Download our print issue (PDF)
Institutional Leadership and Commitment
The Lasting Legacy of Brown
University of South Carolina Upstate:
A Model of Excellence and Diversity
Fifty Years after Brown v. Board of Education: Reflections from an Activist-Administrator
Faculty Involvement
A Search for Deep Diversity in the Communication Classroom
Making Diversity News
The 1954 Brown Decision: Fueling the Torch of Liberation for Asian Pacific Americans
Brown v. Board’s Legacy and Contemporary Black Higher Education
Student Leaders Reflect on the Legacy of Brown
The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice: Education and Empowerment for an Engaged Citizenry
Diversity at Middlesex Community College
Books on Brown v. Board of Education

Diversity at Middlesex Community College

By Walter Clark, director of admissions, Middlesex Community College

Brown stood for the proposition that “absent compelling state interest,” the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution prohibits public institutions from discriminating in admissions on the basis of race. Brown pushed open the door of opportunity for citizenship and democratic rights for African Americans and other groups deemed “minorities,” and helped to launch the mass social and political movements of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Brown affected my life in many ways and it continues to have an influence on my work at Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut. Perhaps my personal background prepared me to embrace cultural diversity and the spirit of Brown.

I am biracial. My mother is Japanese and my father is African American. In effect, my parents were equal-opportunity daters who came of age during the early years of the Brown decision. I grew up in my father’s old neighborhood in the South Bronx. Growing up biracial in the South Bronx shaped my life and outlook on the world. It gave me the strength to navigate my postsecondary educational experiences in predominately white institutions. Even today, the underlying principles of Brown continue to influence my professional practice.

Diversity at Middlesex

The importance of incorporating diversity into the curriculum cannot be overlooked or ignored. It enriches teaching and learning and promotes critical thinking for all students.

In many ways, the community college model is ideally suited to create educational opportunities for a broad cross-section of learners. At Middlesex Community College, as at many other community colleges across the country, access, diversity, affordability, and quality are intrinsic to the institutional mission.

I am proud of the fact that at Middlesex Community College, where I serve as director of admissions and an adjunct faculty member in sociology, we are collectively and individually fulfilling the purposes of Brown. For example, in 1997, an institutional commitment to diversity initiatives at Middlesex Community College began with a minority participation plan. This comprehensive plan included:

  • enhanced recruitment and retention efforts of diverse student populations;
  • increased recruitment efforts of a diverse faculty and staff;
  • invitations to diverse community members to serve on all college advisory groups.

Under the leadership of Middlesex’s president, Wilfredo Nieves, and with the firm support of faculty and staff, the diversity initiatives have materialized into specific programs aimed at preparing students to succeed in the complex and diverse world in which we live. As part of that commitment, Dr. Nieves started the President’s Committee on Diversity (PCOD).

Moreover, our curriculum now requires faculty to include elements of diversity in certain required courses. Our admission policy also reflects a commitment to diversity. We understand that some groups require more encouragement and contact. Therefore, we not only recruit from traditional sources such as the local high schools, but we also visit the unemployment office, community-based nonprofit organizations, and adult education centers. Since 2002, with the full support of faculty, staff, and students, we have successfully sponsored a Hispanic College/Career Fair. Recently, under the leadership of Dr. Nieves, we have begun an internationalization of the campus, which includes increasing the recruitment of international students and developing programs to address their needs and interests.

The importance of incorporating diversity into the curriculum cannot be overlooked or ignored. It enriches teaching and learning and promotes critical thinking for all students. At Middlesex, this pedagogy is recognized, validated, and put into practice. Without Brown v. Board of Education, America would not be engaging with diversity in the manner we see today, and I cringe at the notion of what “separate but equal” would look like in 2004. The legacy of Brown is honored whenever we engage in constructive dialogue and forward-thinking activities that promote democratic equity.

Questions, comments, and suggestions regarding Diversity & Democracy should be directed to Kathryn Peltier Campbell at campbell@aacu.org.
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