MERT Initiatives

AUGUST 21, 2020

Dear Milligan community,

During a prayer service for racial reconciliation earlier this summer, President Greer called upon the Milligan University community to be one that resolves to influence the world in bigger ways that bring justice, reconciliation, understanding, and most of all, love for one another.  He then asked a number of us to serve on a work group focused on specific actions that move us closer to being a better institution that embraces the beauty and diversity of God’s creation.

Our group started by reviewing the recommendations from the Multicultural Education Resource Team (MERT) to develop an action plan, with some items that can be implemented quickly. Some items will take more time as we focus on long-term improvement. Along the way, we spent considerable time listening and learning – from authors, from speakers, from students, from alumni, and from each other.

A few highlights to watch for this fall include:

  • Small Groups: Campus Ministry will offer student-led small groups in a six-part study based on Dr. Tony Evans’ book called Oneness Embraced. The themes of the study are Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and How We Are Stronger Together. For each session, students will view a video of Dr. Evans’ teaching and then share in Bible reading and discussion designed to enhance unity in God’s kingdom.
  • Chapel: Chapel will be a bit different this fall due to the COVID situation (details coming soon), but moving forward we are being more intentional about scheduling people of color as chapel speakers, and as other participants in leading our worship gatherings (musicians, hosts, readers, etc.).
  • Campus Conversations: We are launching a series of events to bring our whole campus community together to learn about, explore, and discuss issues that directly affect the lives of those in our community, and to provide a safe place where conversation can occur and diverse viewpoints can be shared and considered. Our first Campus Conversation will address racial justice, led by Campus Minister Rich Aubrey.
  • Intercultural Competence Training: We’ll be facilitating conversations, resources, and workshops to help faculty, staff, and student leaders understand diversity and intercultural competence and how to manage interpersonal conflict during difficult conversations related to cultural competence, racial disparities, and inequities.
  • Community Engagement: We are partnering with some local organizations, including Johnson City’s Langston Centre, on service and educational opportunities. We are also reviving the external Diversity Advisory Council, a group of local community leaders whose cultural knowledge and diverse experiences will assist us in our attempt to create a healthy multicultural learning community.
  • Campus Environment: We’ll be providing more frequent and visible communication about Milligan’s multicultural diversity efforts. We’ll also communicate a clearer process for reporting discrimination, as well as clarify spaces where underrepresented individuals can voice concerns as we work toward making the entire campus a safe and welcoming place for people of color.
  • Multicultural Education Resource Team (MERT): We are revising the structure, purpose, and goals for this group to improve the ways they can champion and lead multicultural diversity initiatives on campus. If you previously served on this group or have requested to serve, you’ll be hearing from us soon!
  • Recruitment & Employment: We’ll be digging deeper into how we can better recruit and retain faculty, staff, and students of color.

We invite ideas and feedback to be submitted to any of us. We approach this work with a desire for open and supportive dialogue as we learn, listen, and act.

Thank you,

Rich Aubrey, Campus Minister
Gwen Ellis, Director of Multicultural Engagement
Mark Fox, VP for Student Development and Athletics
Theresa Garbe, Director of Alumni Relations and Development
Lee Harrison, VP for Marketing and Enrollment
Tony Jones, Dean of Students
Ron Kastens, Director of Ministry Leadership Program
Rebecca Sapp, Professor of Counseling; Director of the Counseling Center
Garland Young, VP for Academic Affairs and Dean