President’s Council on Diversity making strides

March 23, 2009 | Features, UToday
By Shannon Wermer

The President’s Council on Diversity is committed to valuing everyone and addressing diversity issues among students, faculty and staff at The University of Toledo.

Established in March 2008, the council consists of faculty, staff, students and community representatives.

Implementation is a main focus for the council, according to member Charlene Gilbert, director of the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women and professor in the departments of Women and Gender Studies and Theatre and Film.

“There are and have been other diversity groups on campus that have provided great recommendations for increasing diversity on campus and in the community, but have struggled to implement these ideas,” she said.

The council assesses all diversity recommendations, chooses specific recommendations to implement, selects individuals or groups to be responsible for these tasks, and then monitors the progress.

According to Debbie Barnett, community member, “I am happy to see The University of Toledo taking an active role in embracing diversity. It is very important for students to understand diversity so they can get the most out of their learning experience. Without the acceptance of others, we cannot live in a harmonious society.”

The President’s Council on Diversity was a major supporter in the recent opening of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Office as part of the Office of Multicultural Student Services, located in Student Union Room 2500 on Main Campus.

“The council hopes this office will provide resources, programming, outreach and a place for students to feel safe,” Gilbert said. “We believe the opening of this office is another step toward including all students and working toward a diverse community.”

Along with supporting the office opening, the council is co-sponsoring a film series that will run on Tuesdays, March 24 to April 14. The first film to be shown will be “Milk,” which is about Harvey Milk, the first publically gay man elected to office.

The President’s Council on Diversity meets twice a month and has numerous subcommittees that focus on different objectives. Gilbert said the two current focuses for the council are to increase minority construction and purchasing participation at the University and the retention of students.

For more information, visit or contact Gilbert at 419.530.8570 or or Michele Martinez, interim dean of students and member/convener of the President’s Council on Diversity, at 419.530.5323 or

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