The Office of Diversity & Inclusion has granted Innovative Diversity Efforts Awards (IDEA) since 2011 to further support university-wide inclusion work at William & Mary, and in that time the initiative has grown from three projects to a high of eight this year. 

“We had a record number of proposals, and we wanted to do all we could to try to provide partial funding to as many projects as possible,” W&M Chief Diversity Officer Chon Glover said. “What excites me about this group of projects is the diversity of the array of ideas and collaborations. There are workshops that focus on our full community – faculty, staff, students and alumni.” 

Project proposals were submitted in the fall by faculty and students across the university. This year’s projects include a Black alumni reunion, a sensory space for neurodivergent persons and a mentoring program for undergraduate women interested in careers in physics. 

Banner with images from Swem display
Embracing values: The eight projects that were granted Innovative Diversity Efforts Awards (IDEA) for 2021-22, including an exhibit at Swem Library called “Strollin’: A History of Black Greek Letter Organizations at William & Mary”, cover and array of creative and innovative ideas aimed at adding to the cultural experience of all members of the university community. Photo by David Williard

“Adding to the cultural experience of all members of our community is very important, and these creative and innovative ideas really make a difference,” Glover said. “As we embrace our values of curiosity, discovery and belonging, these projects really aid in that goal. We are grateful for the generous funding made possible through the Diversity Endowment.”

Modern Languages Diversity Story Exchange Workshop

Submitted by Angela Leruth, Department of Modern Languages & Literatures and the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion

Narrative 4 is a global network of authors, educators and students that creates empathy through storytelling as a vehicle to foster positive change on difficult topics. This March 25 workshop will use the network’s storytelling exchange methodology to “help students understand that their voices, stories, actions and lives matter, and that they have the power to change, rebuild and revolutionize systems.”

The Sensory Space

Submitted by Elizabeth Miller, Office of Community Engagement and the Neurodiversity Student Group

The Office of Community Engagement has created a small private space for sensory processing and tools so neurodivergent people can more fully participate in their W&M experience. Located in the OCE suite in Blow Hall 314, The Sensory Space is open to anyone who needs a private adaptive space for sensory regulation. It includes a variety of features and tools to meet a diverse set of sensory needs.

Black Alumni Reunion

Submitted by Valerie Wilkins, Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives – Alumni Association

Scheduled for May 6-8, the Black Alumni Reunion Weekend will invite all alumni of Black and/or African descent to campus for a time of connection, rejuvenation and celebration. The weekend will provide opportunities for alumni to network with students and fellow alumni, celebrate contributions of Black alumni, celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Hulon Willis Association and for alumni who graduated prior to 2012 to participate in their own Donning of the Kente Ceremony. 

Strollin’: A History of Black Greek Letter Organizations at William & Mary

Submitted by Andre Taylor, Special Collections Exhibits Committee

Beginning in February, an exhibit at Swem Library’s Botetourt Gallery and Theatre utilizing mixed media and traditional methodology tells the story of the triumphs and victories of Black Greek-Lettered Organizations and the opportunities they have allotted to the marginalized communities from which they developed. The exhibit, which runs through August 31, examines the origins of Black fraternities and sororities at William & Mary and why there was a need for them on campus. 

Faculty development: Optimizing Student Success by Integrating DEI in the Classroom, VIMS Workshop Series

Submitted by Rochelle Seitz, VIMS Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee

The workshop series will provide professional development for faculty members at W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science in two separate workshops to enhance each faculty member’s skill set for incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into the curriculum. The workshop series will introduce VIMS faculty to methods for implementing cultural diversity into courses, adjusting course structure and content to elevate the work of underrepresented or minority scientists, addressing hidden biases and therefore optimizing student success in the classroom.  

Mentoring for Careers in Physics Pilot Program for Undergraduate Women

Submitted by Chris Monahan and Ran Yang, Mentoring for Careers in Physics

This pilot program launched in December will provide W&M physics undergraduates with mentoring, career development and networking opportunities through interaction with women working in STEM fields beyond academia. Students and mentors will work in 25 unique pairs to cultivate an educational experience that builds students’ scientific identity and sense of belonging within STEM and to provide them with professional tools, skills and knowledge to help them in their careers. 

The Melanin Scholars Retreat: Mentoring Black Women in Research

Submitted by Aiesha Lee, William & Mary School of Education

The Melanin Scholars Retreat was held Jan. 13-14 with the purpose of providing support to Black women faculty and doctoral students in the W&M School of Education’s Counselor Education program. Specifically, 14 retreat attendees received support in cultivating their writing and research initiatives, making connections with other Black women in the field and engaging in and maintaining overall wellness. A research team is currently in the process of interviewing a group of participants about their experiences of the retreat with the hopes of gathering data that will be a worthwhile contribution to counselor education literature. 

Communal Quilt Project

Submitted by Steve Prince, Muscarelle Museum of Art

The Communal Quilt Project is an arts experiential initiative designed to work with all genders, ages and ethnicities in Williamsburg and surrounding counties and cities to create a giant quilt called the “DOG Street Mile Communal Quilt.” The purpose of this project is to create opportunities for the community to utilize the experiential nature of art making as a tool to get community members to tell their personal stories in a group context. The next workshop for the project will be held April 2 at W&M’s Highland.