The University of Lynchburg is one step closer to achieving its goals of increased diversity and inclusion by being named the first National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) Campus Affiliate in Lynchburg.
“This distinguished recognition will reimagine our university in the areas of equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging,” said Dr. Robert Canida, vice president for inclusive excellence.
“Additionally, the status of being a campus affiliate further represents the University’s commitment to inclusive excellence. We are very confident that every Hornet that experiences an NCBI workshop will leave transformed.”
To earn the designation, a team of University faculty, staff and students attended workshops in March offered by NCBI called “train the trainer.” This distinction means Lynchburg has a committed and diverse cross-section of students, staff, faculty, and administrators who have been trained by NCBI and will provide campus workshops on diversity and inclusion throughout each academic year, Canida said.
According to its website, the National Coalition Building Institute is an international leadership organization that provides training in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in community organizations, K-12 schools, college and university campuses, corporations, and law enforcement.
Rebekkah McLellan, an adjunct faculty instructor for the health promotion department, is one of those trained by NCBI. She said she wanted to become involved because she loves Lynchburg but also wants to be involved in its “needed” evolution.
“I almost can’t fathom how important I think this designation is for [Lynchburg]. But this designation doesn’t mean that we have made it; there’s still work to be done. This designation is just the beginning of the work to come. But I hope that it signifies to the campus, community, and beyond that we are working toward betterment,” McLellan said.
She encouraged anyone to participate in any future training the team will offer because it “creates a safe environment that allows all records to be played and dialogue to be created surrounding topics coined uncomfortable or controversial.”
Dr. Ghislaine Lewis, assistant professor of communication studies, also wanted to participate in bringing NCBI’s expertise to campus because she saw the “profound impact” on the estimated 30 faculty and staff who attended an NCBI Exposure Workshop in January.
“We had several courageous conversations as we unpacked issues of equity and inclusion both in our personal and professional lives. I was happy to participate in the train-the-trainer program because I think as we endeavor to become a more inclusive community, the workshops will provide a space for us to have open discussions about diversity and equity,” Lewis said.
“I think it is important for the campus community to celebrate our similarities and differences and confront our biases together. The training sessions promote active listening and understanding the profound impact discrimination can have on us as individuals.
“They also provide a space for us to interact with colleagues and students who may be outside of our departmental orbit. All of the skills learned in the NCBI workshops are integral as we build a more collegial community.”