Diversifying: The Work of Reconciliation

President Greg Christy


Five years ago, Northwestern developed a new strategic plan. One of our many goals was to increase the ethnic diversity of our campus community through strategic student recruitment and faculty/staff hiring efforts.

At that time, our student body was 90 percent Caucasian; this fall it was 83 percent. In 2011, only about 6 percent of our students were American ethnic minorities; we have now more than doubled that. International students continue to account for 3 percent of our student body each year. Good progress has been made.

As for diversifying our faculty and staff, though, progress has been too slow. It is easy to make excuses about being located in homogeneous rural northwest Iowa, but it is time to move beyond excuses.

Two years ago I asked our Multi-Ethnic Resource Committee, led by Dr. Valerie (Roman '93) Stokes and Rahn Franklin, to craft a Vision for Diversity, and I provided a framework for such a statement. It needed to be consistent with our mission, our Vision for Learning, and our Statement of Christian Identity and not contradict any policy or theological positions of the college—such as our view that God's good design for all sexual intimacy is within marriage between one man and one woman.

After leading a campus-wide discussion of the college's diversity values, realities, obstacles and aspirations, the committee developed a statement that was approved by the Board of Trustees. The Vision for Diversity artfully describes our desire to be a leader in embracing diversity so we can better reflect the fullness of the kingdom of God, respond to our country's changing demographics and culture, and model reconciliation.

Scripture teaches us that one day people from every tribe, nation and tongue will stand before the throne. But we don't need to wait; glimpses are possible now, even though we are a broken version of God's creation. How beautiful it would be if Northwestern led the way in embracing peoples of all races and ethnicities, to the glory of God.

Three Speak at Diversity Conference

The process of crafting Northwestern's Vision for Diversity was highlighted in September at the Diversity Conference hosted by the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities in New York City.

Julie (Vermeer '97) Elliott, vice president for student life; Rahn Franklin, director of multicultural student development; and Dr. Valerie (Roman '93) Stokes, associate professor of social work, explained the process and articulated the foundation for Northwestern's commitment to diversity.

"Most colleges claim to be committed to diversity, but many do not engage in deep reflection on why they hold to such a commitment," says Elliott. "At Northwestern, diversity is pursued as a means to an even bigger end—the call to pursue God's redeeming work in the world."

Read the Vision for Diversity at nwciowa.edu/vision4diversity

Classic Comments

All comments are moderated and need approval from the moderator before they are posted. Comments that include profanity, or personal attacks, or antisocial behavior such as "spamming" or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our terms of use. You are fully responsible for the content that you post. Comments posted do not reflect the views or values of Northwestern College.