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WilmU’s DEI Programs Foster Respect and Understanding

As Wilmington University’s student affairs resource coordinator and food pantry manager, Allison Laurant speaks to people “on such a personal level” — international students, LGBTQ+ students, neurodiverse students, food-insecure students and more. That’s why she enrolled in WilmU’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion certificate program. 

“I want to make sure I’m respecting all the people I work with,” Laurant says. “I wake up wanting to be a blessing to our student population, and I feel I can be a blessing to students by understanding them better.”  

The 18-credit undergraduate DEI certificate program promotes cultural competency through courses that include Social Justice Advocacy, Multicultural Psychology and Managing Diversity. Available as a standalone credential or as part of a degree, it benefits human resources managers, social and community service managers, and anyone working in a diverse environment. 

“I wake up wanting to be a blessing to our student population.” — Allison Laurant

“Business is about relationships, and this program helps people establish and keep relationships that are valuable,” explains Dr. Katherine Cottle, WilmU’s chair of interdisciplinary studies. “At the end of the day, we can’t think parochially. We have to think globally, and this program is a part of that.” 

Not only do students learn to work with diverse groups of people, but they also research community needs and create an action plan — like advocating for better accessibility. 

“It’s about human dignity. What can we do to help people feel they’re in a space that’s safe and we’re aware of their needs?” Dr. Cottle says. “In an increasingly pluralistic society, WilmU is really trying to offer skills that will be immediately useful and transferable.” 

Dr. Adrienne Bey, the director of Wilmington University’s Center for Teaching Excellence, leads two of the courses. She also organizes diversity, equity and inclusion workshops for WilmU employees and external companies. 

“We can work with them to develop a curriculum and talk with them about the topics they want to discuss,” describes Dr. Bey, who shows people how to recognize implicit bias and increase their cultural awareness. “If we can assist individuals and organizations in developing skills to foster an inclusive environment, where employees/constituents feel included and like they belong, we’re happy to help.” 

“In an increasingly pluralistic society, WilmU is really trying to offer skills that will be immediately useful and transferable.” — Dr. Katherine Cottle

In addition to the undergraduate DEI certificate, Wilmington University offers a graduate certificate in Equitable Practices. Through courses like Education for Equity and Social Justice, the program teaches participants how to create inclusive, supportive spaces in the classroom or the workplace — spaces where diversity is valued and respect for others is the norm.  

“We need to celebrate our differences,” says Dr. Michele Brewer, a director in the College of Education and Liberal Arts. “Knowing who people are, where they come from and their experiences makes it easier to collaborate with them.” 

The graduate certificate is a valuable resource for diversity, equity and inclusion specialists and strategic planning partners. It, too, serves as a standalone credential or counts toward a degree.  

“The world is evolving, and we need to evolve with it,” notes Dr. Brewer, who is “passionate about this certificate.” 

At the doctoral level, WilmU’s Prevention Science degree program addresses real-world challenges through courses that emphasize cultural sensitivity.  

“In the world of prevention, we focus on two areas: changing individual behavior and changing community behavior,” says chairperson Dr. Shawn Stevens. “What are policy modifications to increase DEI? And the other side of that is to decrease bias and institutional racism.” 

It’s about “impacting organizations to start to change attitudes and culture,” Dr. Stevens adds. “This is a societal issue that affects professional lives and personal lives.” 

Graduates of the program work for human services, health and educational organizations, federally funded prevention centers, government agencies and nonprofit research centers. 

“As this program is emerging through Wilmington University, it is becoming more and more impactful based on the continuing research,” says Dr. Hakim Stovall, a prevention scientist who earned his WilmU doctorate in 2021. “It’s starting to gain the notoriety that it should be receiving, and I’m a walking advocate of that.” 

“As this program is emerging through Wilmington University, it is becoming more and more impactful based on the continuing research.”
— Dr. Hakim Stovall

Back on campus, Laurant took a moment to reflect while preparing for a big event. For her, the message is simple: “It doesn’t cost you anything to be respectful and kind.” 

Learn to promote cultural awareness and encourage inclusive environments in your organization through WilmU’s diversity, equity and inclusion certificate or degree programs. We’re ready to serve you. 

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