Message from the Interim Chief Diversity Officer: Incremental Change, Considerable Impact

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Dear App State Community,

Throughout the year, it is important that we take time to recognize and celebrate the various identities on our campus that, together, compose the App State Community.

Every October, we recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which commemorates the many contributions the disability community makes to our workplaces and economy. COVID-19, in particular, has highlighted how a change in our work environment can necessitate a need for additional accommodations. These experiences have further encouraged our efforts to cultivate an inclusive workplace culture at App State for our employees with disabilities. They also highlight how the increase in virtual interactions has driven the need for accessible content. To that end, the university purchased SensusAccess, a document conversion tool available to all App State students, staff and faculty. This software allows users to convert text and image-based files into more accessible formats such as audio, Braille or e-text formats in as little as 10 minutes. Reducing barriers to accessible content is just one way App State is working to provide a more inclusive campus experience for employees, students and visitors with disabilities. I offer my sincere thanks to the Office of Disability Resources, the Center for Academic Excellence and the Digital Accessibility Working Group for their work in making resources more accessible for the entire App State Community.

October is also LGBT History Month — a chance for us to honor all of those who have and continue to advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights at App State and in the surrounding community. We are especially grateful for the resources provided by the Henderson Springs LGBT Center, which fittingly opened during LGBT History Month in 2008. The center provides resources, support, information and a welcoming atmosphere for LGBTQIA+ individuals and their allies. In 2014, it was formally named for local couple Bo Henderson — who was inaugurated into App State’s Bell Ringers Society this fall during Founders Day — and his late husband, Ed Springs. Every month our LGBT Center hosts InQueeries — LGBT 101, a training to help students better understand facts, statistics and identities related to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Across campus, many of our students elect to use a first name other than their legal name, particularly those who are in the transgender, nonbinary and international communities. I am pleased to announce that, effective today, students are able to update their AppCard to display their preferred or chosen first name. Students may receive an updated AppCard with their preferred first name free of charge until Dec. 13. Beginning Jan. 10, 2022, many other Banner Self-Service sites will also reflect submitted preferred first names. If you have already submitted your preferred first name, please review your submission and ensure it is the name you would like to use.

To update your preferred first name and/or receive an updated AppCard:

  1. Review the preferred first name initiative webpage for more information regarding preferred/chosen name usage on campus. Please note, if you choose to update your AppCard with a name other than your legal name, it may no longer be used as a legal form of identification in a variety of situations.
  2. Update Banner. Visit AppalNet and click on the AppalNet Self Service tab. From there, click on the Personal Information tab, then Preferred First Name. Enter your preferred first name and select Update Preferred First Name to ensure it has been saved.
  3. Visit Campus Services Express on the second floor of the University Bookstore to update your AppCard.

This summer, the 2021 Preferred First Name Initiative Working Group put forth additional recommendations for students, and I have assembled another working group to address faculty and staff updates, which I hope will be implemented this academic year. I would like to thank the current members of the working group and all of those who have served in previous versions of this working group over the past several years for helping this initiative come to fruition. There are several additional working groups that came together this summer to develop recommendations for how we can work together to better serve underrepresented populations on campus. I plan to share the compiled results of these recommendations this spring as part of our comprehensive strategic diversity initiatives.

To foster a welcoming and inclusive community, I encourage each of us to use the names of individuals as indicated in class lists or the university directory; strive in good faith not to repeat the error if a mistake on your part is drawn to your attention; and respect pronouns made known to you, by which a person self-identifies. Here are two excellent resources: pronouns and why they matter and inclusive language and gender pronouns training modules offered by the Center for Academic Excellence.

Our university is all the better when we work together!


/s/ Jamie Parson, J.D.

Jamie Parson, J.D.