Meet Corey Jackson
Posted: July 8, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: July 8, 2009 at 6:08 am
By Rashad Mulla
After a semester on the job, Corey Jackson, Mason director of equity and diversity services and assistant to the president, has settled into his new roles. Jackson was hired in January after most recently serving as director of diversity and inclusion at the National Collegiate Athletic Association in Indianapolis.
At Mason, he hit the ground running. He surveyed more than 100 people – including President Alan Merten, members of the Board of Visitors, students, contractors and the custodial staff – to find out their views on diversity at Mason, their expectations of what Jackson would do in his new position and what their diversity-related priorities were for the university.
Recently, he answered questions about his work, goals and getting to know Mason.
As director of equity and diversity services at Mason, what are your main goals?
My first goal is to unify all of the diversity efforts that are going on here at Mason. From a diversity communications plan point of view, I’m focusing on talking about some of the good news that’s out there.
My second goal is to increase the number of historically underrepresented populations within the faculty. I think the student diversity is great. I think where we have some challenges is in regard to faculty. That’s one thing that I and the president want to see improve at Mason.
What are your duties as the assistant to the president?
I inform the president of the diversity issues that are going on around campus. I answer questions he receives regarding these issues.
I am able to be involved with faculty, staff and students. I try to have my finger on the pulse of all of those groups. [I am] fairly new, so I guess you could say I have a limited finger, but I’m learning more and more.
What would you say about your first semester at Mason?
It’s been a great experience since I’ve been here. There’s so much going on here on a regular basis that you have to jump right in and get involved.
Overall, my first semester has been great. The people have been great. A lot of people who were happy to see this position filled greeted me with open arms.
I found that I really didn’t appreciate the diversity of the student body until I actually came on campus and interacted with the student organizations. I knew the diversity was here, but it’s really great to come experience it firsthand.
What effect does your job have on the faculty, staff and students at Mason?
First, you have to think about the role of our office. You have the equity piece, which deals with the investigation of complaints and all of the things related to institutional equity.
The other function that’s been added over the years is the diversity piece – which means including everybody in the diversity discussion and making sure that people understand diversity is not just this office’s business. We want to make sure everyone is invested in it. That inclusion piece has to be part of diversity as well.
At the end of the day, I want to make sure the university is culturally competent.
How important is diversity to Mason?
It is a priority for the president, the Board of Visitors and everybody else. They understand the benefits of diversity. They understand that Mason would not have been able to grow as it did had it not been for the diversity that is present here. They understand the institutional benefits of diversity and they want to build on that.
Now that we have it, how do we take a proactive approach and build upon it?
What have been some of the problem areas you have focused on at Mason?
I wouldn’t look at anything as a problem area; I would look at it as more of an opportunity for growth. Faculty diversity is one of those areas.
From a student perspective, we need to build on the diversity because it is here. How do we get the different organizations and different groups to interact?
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