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Dr. Diana Rogers-Adkinson Interview

Dr. Diana Rogers-Adkinson
Dean of College of Education
Office: SC301

Could you please tell us about your philosophy of leadership and how that applies to the position of dean of college?

To me, a leader has to be able to do two things: 1-help created a short vision for organization groups to be able to know the work that we need to do. But the leadership has to come through mentoring the people that work with you. I strongly believe my role it is to help those that work with me. My department chair, my directors and my coordinators. I need to know what their goals are. And if I understand their goals that help them achieve their path or they were all happy to work with helps and we are on to be a better leaders together. I don’t like having to lead from the Top down that to lead, so we all bringing all the information together. Our strategic plan in the college was built by the faculty who can came to us and it’s my job to implement it. So it’s really shared model where hopefully we are working on our goals professionally. Be the successful teacher, successful scholars, and successful mentors to our students. We put all fulfill the mission of the institution together.

How do your background and experiences strengthen this academic department?

Before being a Dean, I was a department chair and I did for that for six years. And before that I was a program coordinator, before that faculty. I am so kind of through ranks slowly. But I started leading when I was an undergraduate. So, I mean I was a president of the honorary. You know took on leadership from beginning. So, I think more than you take on those opportunities the more you take bigger opportunities. I have had experience where I had extra training, the institution I worked before sent to Harvard to the mentoring development program for Higher Ed. So, getting to go those kind of experiences to help me to learn how to be a better leader. I think it helped, I mean be ready for this role.

Can you recall a time when a person's cultural background affected your approach to a work situation? Tell me a time that you adapted your style in order to work effectively with those who were different from you.

That happens all the time here. I’ll give an example of something we are doing right now. Under-represented groups tend not to want to become a teacher. So, we have very few cultural minorities or LGBTQ. The students that are feel out that feel be safe to become an educator because of some social stigmas that still current exists in our society. So when I need to make sure I am hiring the people represent in the diversity of our country and make sure those people can model to the students how the role everybody in society. Right now we starting a new program called home’s honors which is for minority or students with a disability that want to become to an educator to help mentor them in to the profession. A lot of students especially African American in or country have a very bad school experience and they encouraging somebody go becoming a part of an assistant may didn’t treat them equitably. It’s hard, so if we are going to do that we need to mentor them, so that’s something we are starting new that we are having the first meeting tonight that’s helping us approach how do we support people want to be in a teaching profession they don’t normally become a part of it. But, I mean diversity in college of education, we charged with teaching to all the children not just majority children, so we need to make sure we are always think about that in our college.

Have you previously developed and implemented a comprehensive recruitment and retention plan that increased the likelihood of increasing a diverse faculty and staff pool? Provide examples. If yes, how do you address these needs?

I mean that’s been something pretty systematic for me, we have a best person for the job, since I have been Dean in terms of my diverse hire, one, two, three, four ,five higher reflective diverse group since I came here. This is my fifth year. So, it is been priority. I am involved in this homes group. I am studying undergraduate, those are national homes group for doctor students and they are minority scholars or under-represented their scholars. I have to make sure connected to that group, so I am start to meeting students in doctor school to get a PhD. So I can go recruit them when they are ready to graduate. So, I have tried to make sure that I am visible nationally, and I am at those conference nationally so I can meet those potential employees, potentially faculty. So I can help recruit them back here, it’s easy to bring somebody some place that might be more geographically, isolated. If they have a chance to know who I am as Dean, the leader is what my institution is about rather just than cold fishing “oh, anybody apply.” So, we really do try to go out and find and recruit. And we really do the same thing in undergraduate level. Our college has a very focuses recruitment plan, we have the student ambassadors who give the tour of the college. We do open houses. We make sure that when the person is thinking about coming here and we tell what our story about and more than we tell us story more attractive are programs are for people of hiring. It’s easy for me to recruit now that our facilities are awesome. You know the people come and see the evolution center and they see the counseling center they see all the things we are doing and that shows opportunities they would have as faculty. It’s easy to recruit someone when you start the climate doing the work. So it that helps too.

In your experience, what are the key factors that contribute to the success of students from diverse backgrounds?

Number one is having a mentor, and another reason we start the home’s program. Dr. Smith will be the mentor to those students. Also, making sure I tell my own story. I am a first generation high school graduate, not the first generation college. My mom didn’t graduate from high school, her mom didn't graduate from high school. They had babies. So, students assume my privilege why in the class. I would not understand what the means to be the first generation college student. We as faculty have to let our students know where we come from, it does not really matter. It depends on who mentoring you well, how you learn and how to you operate in systems you may not be familiar with, that helps me finding the other minority mentors, but we all understand our role to teach students to understand the dynamic of our program and what the demands are. So, I think that what the most important piece.

Do you think that diversity should be including in the professional development for both faculty and staff? Why or why not?

Of course, should. Now, our college infuses diversity with everything because of the pedagogy .But you know Missouri is one of few States where somebody can still fire for being the gay. But we need to embrace all the university including LGBTQ, it’s the highest population of student’s suicide in our mission’s schools. That’s a part of we do in college, we need to make sure everybody understands all aspects of diversity, disability and those students find behind schools. People make assumptions because of physical conditions that don’t necessarily represent that person. One of my former students finished the Ph.D. He uses all non-communication and a voice synthesizer. He has cerebral palsy policy. His brain is in there, it’s brilliant but he got unlock it in a different way. We don't help people understand that a lot of people capable and regardless whatever lens we try to look at them. Then people don’t get the opportunity they could have. So, everybody needs to learn to better undo their own script. I mean even for women still in Southeast Missouri sometimes, I still see some people talk from gender bias, and I think “wow. Didn’t that go out a long time ago?” But there still some stereo types we have got challenge those, regardless of which stereo type they are acting from. Otherwise, people get left behind.

What are some diversity and equity challenges that are unique to Southeast’s campus?

I think our locations is just unique. I can give an example, for student who comes from St. louis and they coming down here, their experiences are very different from somebody who might be been even. You know you have two different African American students, one from St. Louis one from the down in the boot heel. The cultural scripts they experiences are different. Rural poverty and urban poverty can look the same the people assume they are different .So, we have the challenge of serving two really opposite areas in the state at the same time. And helping both. Everybody who comes from both those areas, betters understanding each other and better understand the perceptions of diversity through this different lenses. Because they do bring in a lens or isolation, I think it times fields still a lot of beliefs the maybe are still here that maybe aren’t necessarily in other places more urban. I grew up in Boston. So, the community is much more open accepting you know very out in the LGBTQ community in Boston or in Madison when I used to work in Wisconsin. So, nobody would think about it and here people still more uncomfortable, helping people accept all the diversity and own groups and embrace that and see the beauty of that makes it a little bit different just because a lot of people never leave this area, don't experience, some of them much of the rest of the world. But that’s also the learning for me understanding the life view of someone who’s live in this environment for a long time to respect that. So, that makes that an interesting challenge too.

Do you think it’s important to address diversity and equity issues in your position, and what are some ways you might do that?

Yes, every day I have to do that. Not only in my hiring practices but how I support faculty and research around equity and diversity, and how I understand to make sure the students in my program get the same equity and diversity and how can I make sure the students going to kennet campus getting same equality education as the student on the main campus. You know that’s equity too. You know I have got the whole beautiful lab downstairs in the evolution center and for a student go to kennet, they don’t have 3D printer and all of the things I have to offer on the main campus. How can I make sure that student still is just as good a teacher to teach in her region as somebody who’s up here? I forgot to make sure I am always thinking about giving everybody the best possible experience as a future educator, leader, counselor, mental health professional in my college. That access become comes an issue. I mean, I have students who need we to buy them the gas cards. Because they have difficulty getting to a field placement. we have a lot of economic needs for our students, we need to make sure that doesn’t prevent them from getting good experiences in the college. That’s just important.

What pedagogical changes do you see on the horizon in your discipline?

Well, our curriculum, we are being pushed to be more in the field and in the schools. For example, there is the big push for students doing years long residency during the senior year instead of, so they be basically in a school all day for the whole year instead of just one semester students teaching. That’s the huge financial commitment for students. If the state makes us go that way. Students start trying to work become a teacher being able to push together classes and working. That makes it really hard for those students to keep working have the opportunity to even become an educator. And so, as those changes about wanting our student in the field more and in classroom mean in our classroom less. That is a challenge could be really interesting. That’s probably the biggest change that could be for interesting for us.

Would you like to make any additional comments?

I think my diverse faculty feels very respected in the climate in our college. And feel that they can be leaders around diversity on campus, be it Dr. Mamatiya. She is going to help with TEW, which is faculty development soon. But I know my faculty know that they’re encouraged and appreciated for sharing their expertise and talent and their diversity across the campus not just in the college of Ed and it’s fun to watch that happen.


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