Submitted by: Judy Alston
Ashland University administration has announced that Dr. Judy Alston will serve as the Interim Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Alston, an AU graduate professor of leadership studies, has been with the university since 2007.
The decision to make her interim director was a no-brainer, Vice President of Student Affairs Robert Pool, said.
“She’s been involved in DEI research, speaking and teaching for many years,” he said. “She’s already blazed a trail for her opportunity at AU.”
Pool quickly noticed that Alston was prepared and eager to start a discussion about black injustices after the events of civil unrest during the summer months.
“She was on a lot of the town hall meeting calls with students, faculty and staff of color talking about what AU is doing and what we can do better,” Pool said. “She was willing to step up and help, so she was a natural choice for this position.”
For Alston, the opportunity to serve as Interim Director of DEI felt like the right thing.
“I’m glad that the timing was what it was and that I was able to step forward and walk the talk that I have espoused my entire life,” she said. “The moment called and I said yes.”
One way Alston hopes to use her position of power is by getting the word out and advertising that this resource is available on campus.
“I want to be getting other people to talk about who we are and to be excited about the possibilities of diversity, equity and inclusion, and what that can really mean for the entire campus community,” she said.
Alston has made it her goal to increase understanding of what diversity, equity and inclusion are by expanding upon the foundation that has already been established.
She believes that genuine understanding and love is important, not only for Ashland, but for the world.
“While we may look different and come from different backgrounds with different experiences, the one thing that we have in common is we’re human,” Alston said. “We need to be more respectful of one another’s ideas, actions and identities.”
The main job of the Director of DEI, is to help carry out AU’s mission of being welcoming to students, faculty and staff from all walks of life, Pool said.
The purpose of this position is to give a voice to the underrepresented populations on campus, whether that be those facing racial inequality, financial strain, or struggling with sexual identity.
“For them coming to college face-to-face, and in some cases online, the layers of difficulty are much greater,” Pool said. “It behooves the university to take additional steps to better understand what these students may need.
Administration is in the process of putting together a national search to fulfill the position of Director of DEI long-term. If the search is successful, this person will take over for Alston in the summer of 2021.
Until then, Alston is up for the challenge of creating a more inclusive and understanding AU.
“I’ve seen change and I know that there’s a lot of things we need to work on, but you can’t do it all at one time,” she said. “Just starting in a small place and trying to get the understanding across campus matters.”