Message from the Chief Diversity Officer
Dear App State Community,
With the 2022–23 academic year behind us, the Office of Diversity is focused this summer on several important events and initiatives that foster a greater sense of belonging at the local, national and global levels.
Monday is Juneteenth, marking the 158th anniversary of an important event in our nation’s history. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, enslaved people in Texas, the westernmost Confederate state, were not freed for two and a half years thereafter. When Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay on June 19, 1865, to announce that the 250,000-plus Black slaves in Texas were free, the newly freed people called the day “Juneteenth.”
Juneteenth is a national milestone that gives all Americans an opportunity to celebrate and to reflect. Thanks to the work of leading scholars such as Annette Gordon-Reed, Ph.D., MacArthur Genius Award recipient and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who spoke at App State last fall, Juneteenth has become more widely recognized. On June 18, 2021, Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday.
The Office of Diversity invites all members of the App State Community to our Lunch and Learn Juneteenth celebration on Tuesday, June 20, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Plemmons Student Union Solarium.
- Attendees will enjoy free food, live music and a fireside chat with Del Ruff, executive diversity and inclusion officer at North Carolina A&T. We scheduled the event on June 20 (instead of the official holiday on June 19) so that eligible employees wishing to take Personal Observance Leave on June 19 can do so. Register before June 16 to attend the Juneteenth event here.
June also marks Pride Month, when members of the world’s LGBTQ+ communities reflect on their struggles to overcome prejudice and celebrate the progress they have made to be accepted for who they are. App State has taken important strides toward becoming a more welcoming and uplifting community for our LGBTQ+ members.
Earlier this year, the Office of Diversity submitted an application for the Campus Pride Index, a national assessment tool operated by Campus Pride. The index is designed to assist campuses in improving safety, campus climate and educational experiences for LGBTQ+ people and their allies. I’m happy to report that App State received a 4.5-star ranking (out of 5 stars) from the organization, evidence that we have made a significant commitment to our LGBTQ+ community on campus. Learn more about App State’s ranking.
- Founded by App State in 2008 and named for Bo Henderson ’79 and his late husband, Ed Springs, the Henderson Springs LGBTQ+ Center continues to serve as a community resource to empower, educate and affirm LGBTQ+ people and their advocates.
- In 2021, we launched the Chosen First Name Initiative with the goal of making App State a more welcoming environment for persons who wish to identify themselves using a name that is different from their legal name. For some individuals in our LGBTQ+ community, a chosen first name allows them to express their gender identity or sexual orientation in a more affirming way. They also provide international students a way to use a Westernized name that may make them feel more comfortable in their new living and learning environments. Whatever reason an individual has for using a chosen first name, this initiative assures members of our community that they are recognized and accepted for who they are.
- Officially recognized as a university-affiliated affinity group in 2021, the Queer & Trans Staff and Faculty (QTSAF) affinity group strives to make App State a more inclusive space by providing resources and support for queer and transgender members of our community and their allies.
I look forward to seeing many of you at our Juneteenth celebration and wish all the LBGTQ+ members of our community a happy Pride Month.
Jamie Parson, J.D.
Chief Diversity Officer