Dean's Council Executive Summary
The Dean's Council was asked for their interpretations of the term "multiculturalism." Early discussion related to "learned behavior patterns [and] different ways of thinking, behaving and experiencing...as it relates to culture," and "a belief system with associated values." Subsequent emphasis was put on "experience" and a suggestion was made that multiculturalism be viewed developmentally as well as contextually. One member characterized multiculturalism and diversity as "very positive aspects" but acknowledged that the terms also elicit negative reactions from some people.
When asked to give meaning to the phrase "multicultural competence," the Council dealt with many layers of human experience and interaction. An individual understanding based upon exposure was seen as an ongoing and necessary process; a move beyond understanding to acceptance and even appreciation was called for; and finally a vision that led to "promoting it, assisting it, and so on" was seen as exemplary evidence of competence.
K-State's student population characteristics and backgrounds, such as an inculcated work ethic and the potential absence of inherited prejudices in rural monocultures, were explored as possible reasons for present levels of preparedness in multicultural competence among the university's graduates. All members of the discussion agreed that such competencies were significant to graduates and their future employers. The university's focus on curiosity based learning and leadership development were seen as evidence of the appropriateness of looking toward multicultural competency development.
Finally, when asked to provide initiatives they felt were appropriate at their level of university oversight and accountability, the Council members called for positive, directed leadership that would embody "living by an example of inclusivity," and would also emphasize to students the real world consequences of inadequate multicultural competence.
The members were optimistic about faculty receptiveness to leadership on the issue of multicultural competencies, and the discussion ended with a call to enhance to recruit and retain a diverse faculty.