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LHU establishes Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven University recently announced the establishment of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The new office will serve as a resource and advocate for the university community to voice their concerns, present and work through issues, create policies and help ensure that the plans and decisions made by the university take into consideration the need to be a more inclusive campus and a vehicle for change.

For the last six months, Robert Pignatello, Lock Haven University president, has been involved in conversations with students, as well as taken part in constructive meetings with the campus’ Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion, Civility and Freedom of Speech regarding how the university can embrace equity and fairness and reject hate and bias as an institution.

The task force is chaired by Amy Downes, director of the Center for Excellence and Inclusion.

“We are listening. Our students’ stories and experiences matter to us — as do their futures,” Pignatello said. “We are a family and like all families, we must come together to grow. But this means we must take purposeful steps now, to better ensure that each and every member of our community feels respect, support and care, and that we advance ways to promote equity in highly visible and structural ways.”

The new office will report directly to the president and the director will be a member of the university’s executive staff. It will have the highest level of visibility and will be empowered to work collaboratively with other offices in order to advocate for inclusivity and equity. The operation of the office will commence with the start of the fall semester.

Kenneth Hall, director of the Center for Excellence and Inclusion at Lock Haven University, will serve as interim director of the new office.

Throughout the summer, the Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion, Civility and Freedom of Speech will provide important leadership in the transition of the new office. The office will have oversight across several key university initiatives including the Presidential Commissions on the Status of Women and LGBTQ Affairs.

Ultimately, the task force will then transition to a third presidential commission to become part of the standing permanent administration, like the other two commissions, and will continue to be a representative body of faculty, staff and students to provide critical input and support.

This action is the first in a series of initiatives that will be announced in the coming weeks demonstrating Lock Haven University’s commitment to improve and create an inclusive environment for all students, faculty, staff and community members.

“Our country faces an inflection point in our history,” Pignatello said. “It is a moment that demands change born of meaningful action on the part of individuals and institutions alike. Our university must contribute to this change and be part of the solution.”

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