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Patricia Matthew on the work of inclusion and equity

October 17, 2017 | M. Clay

Jennifer Ho and Patricia Matthew
IAH Associate Director Jennifer Ho moderates discussion with Patricia Matthew after Matthew’s talk at Hyde Hall.

Patricia Matthew, Associate Professor of English at Montclair State University, delivered a talk at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities in Hyde Hall about the necessity for deep investment in equity and inclusion as part of all university ecosystems.

“I don’t know a time in any field when race and gender didn’t matter,” said Matthew, to a University Room full of more than 80 people on Sept. 19, comprising mostly faculty and administrators. “Can academia make a space for faculty of color to be experts in their fields and show up for equity work?”

Her talk was driven by her most recent publication, a collection of essays entitled  Written/Unwritten: Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure (UNC Press, 2016). Matthew has been interviewing and reading about faculty of color targeted by extremists and discussed the stakes for the work that colleges and universities are doing right now.

IAH Associate Professor Jennifer Ho (Professor, English & Comparative Literature) and Faculty Fellowship Program Director Michele Berger (Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies) organized the event. The Daily Tar Heel also interviewed Matthew during her visit.

More than a year after College of Arts & Sciences Dean Kevin Guskiewicz created Diversity Advisory Board (of which Professor Ho is a member), and the Chancellor began the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the need for diversity work among faculty and administrators has become part of discussions at UNC-Chapel Hill as well as across the nation.

Matthew began the talk by says it was “great to see a diverse crowd [at Hyde Hall] because it’s easy to think diversity work is the work of women and people of color.”

Matthew outlined specific ways institutions of higher learning could demonstrate the value of diversity and equity work. Among them were counting diversity work toward tenure. Also, she suggests giving annual awards for the work.

“There should be a distinguished diversity award, one that comes with course release, UC Berkely has one,” said Matthew. During the talk, she cites her Atlantic article where she outlines the “invisible labor” of faculty of color and backs this up with research on the subject. UNC-Chapel Hill does award recognition of Diversity work. IAH Director Mark Katz won the faculty award in Spring 2017.

Finally, she believes faculty doing diversity work deserve research assistance, funds for research, and administrative support.

“Where we are [faculty of color] and what we do doesn’t end at the end of campus,” said Matthew.




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