Freeman wins 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award

Ashalla Freeman has received the 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

As director of diversity affairs in the Office of Graduate Education at the School of Medicine, Freeman manages diversity recruitment efforts and monitors the admissions process for underrepresented applicants to the biomedical PhD programs at Carolina.  The award honors women who work to make a difference in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Freeman will be featured, along with 65 other recipients, in the September 2016 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“We know women in STEM fields are not always represented or recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship to others,” said Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We want to honor those who are inspirations to their colleagues, their community, and to young girls everywhere who may be interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these women as role models to all.”

Freeman, who has been an integral part of the School of Medicine’s initiatives to increase faculty diversity, and student recruitment and success in the biosciences, greeted news of the award with humility.  “I’ve just never thought of what I do as something that I might be recognized for,” she said.  I want to help diversify STEM – that’s been my interest and passion since I was an undergrad.  I love my job because I am able to achieve that goal in more ways than I ever imagine.  It never occurred to me that I was thought of so highly or that I am influential!”

Indeed, her involvement has been vital to student success and lasting change in scientific culture at UNC-Chapel Hill – and elsewhere – for a variety of reasons:  She’s established credibility and trust with faculty and serves as a resource as they make admissions decisions; she enhances the education and professional training of our students through participation in our first year graduate student curriculum; she provides insights to students and faculty at other universities regarding strategies for gaining admission to and succeeding in graduate school through her recruitment and outreach efforts; and she’s been able to connect faculty and students with opportunities and resources for success in graduate school and beyond through trans-university and national collaborations.

Her work continues with her recent acceptance into the BRIDGES Academic Leadership for Women program for this semester.  “I’m thrilled,” she exclaims, of this opportunity to broaden her influence.  “With BRIDGES training, I hope to expand the skills and knowledge that I’ve developed to shape institutional policies and practices, particularly in the areas of graduate education and diversity.”

In spite of the great strides that she has made in moving towards a diverse and equitable culture in the STEM fields for women and minorities, Freeman still sees challenges that need to be tackled.  “There is a widely held idea that diversity equals inclusion…which it does not.  We must have both,” she points out. “We need people with different experiences and perspectives to be present and seated at the table of innovation and change and we also must respect and engage these people, value all that they can contribute, and eagerly incorporate their values and ideas in all that we do.”

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Women’s Equality Day Proclaimed in NC

Governor McCrory has proclaimed August 26, 2016 as Women’s Equality Day in the state of North Carolina.  The Proclamation reads as follows:

WHEREAS, in 1971, the United States Congress designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day, in recognition of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which granted all women voting rights; and

WHEREAS, members of the North Carolina Council for Women Board are appointed by the Governor to address issues such as the health and well-being, education, and employment of women in North Carolina; and

WHEREAS, the mission of the Women and Girl’s Initiative is to embolden and equip women and girls with courage, confidence, and competence to achieve leadership roles in our community by collaborating, networking, and creating supportive environments; and

WHEREAS, women in North Carolina have made significant social and economic advances in recent decades; approximately 30.5 percent of those working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in North Carolina are women, compared to 28.8 percent nationwide; and

WHEREAS, the State of North Carolina encourages citizens to seek opportunities to learn more about the history of Women’s Equality Day, and to educate themselves on the contributions women have made to North Carolina and its communities;

NOW, THEREFORE, I PAT McCRORY, Governor of the State of North Carolina, do hereby proclaim August 26, 2016, as “WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY” in North Carolina, and commend its observance to all citizens.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina at the Capitol in Raleigh this third day of August in the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

Pat McCrory, Governor

Resources after recent shootings

The senseless murders of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, and five police officers in Dallas, have had a strong impact on many in our community.  As we offer our deepest sympathies to their families and communities, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs wishes to advise that those individuals on campus who may be personally affected may be in need of support.  Many of you may have read the Message from the Chancellor, regarding resources available at Carolina to help us deal with the great emotional impact of these awful events.

UNC-Chapel Hill offers a number of resources for faculty, staff, and students.  As we all grapple with the shock of these latests attacks on innocent people, we urge anyone in need to reach out to the following outlets:

  • Counseling and Psychological Services – James A. Taylor Building, 320 Emergency Room Drive, 919-966-3658 (during regular business hours), 919-966-2281 (after hours),
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Center – SASB North, Suite 3226, 919-843-5376,
  • Equal Opportunity and Compliance (EOC) Office – 137 E. Franklin Street, Suite 404, 919-966-3576,
  • Employee Assistance Program – 877-314-5841 (24 hours a day),

This message is sponsored by Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, a division of Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement.


First Years and Transfer Students Invited to Jumpstart Year with ACE

Diversity and Multicultural Affairs will host Achieving Carolina Excellence (ACE), a pre-orientation program designed to welcome first year and transfer students to Carolina, August 18th-20th.  Designed to be the “big splash first event for underrepresented students,” according to Dr. Ada Wilson Suitt, Director of Inclusive Student Excellence, the program features a variety of activities geared towards easing students’ transition into a new campus environment as a Tar Heel.

Several hundred students will attend a full schedule of events that will provide them an opportunity to build relationships with award-winning faculty, as well as staff, and student leaders; bond with each other; and, engage in fun, interactive activities.  Items on the agenda include a classroom and building tour, a culture show, a campus scavenger hunt, field day, and a cookout.  While most events are centered solely on the students, there is a special session for families and each student is allowed to bring up to two guests to the opening session and luncheon at the Loudermilk Center’s Blue Zone to hear Dr. Damon Williams, Senior Vice President and Youth Development Officer at the Boys and Girls Club of America, speak.

“It is hard to identify one distinct part of the program as a highlight event because they all have value,” notes Wilson Suitt.  “For example, the keynote lecture is designed to spark academic curiosity and instill a culture of high expectations.  Similarly, the academic achievement session (this year hosted by Candice Powell from Undergraduate Retention) will provide students with the skills they need to thrive in and out of the classroom.  The culture show, field day and cookout offer students an opportunity to develop deep connections with current UNC students while also showcasing the rich diversity of the Carolina Community.”

For some students, this may not be their first exposure to campus life.  There are some who have also participated in either Project Uplift or North Carolina Renaissance, two Diversity and Multicultural Affairs summer institute enrichment programs designed to increase leadership strength and promote academic success in high school students from underserved populations who are contemplating higher education.  The high school to university pipeline set in place by Diversity and Multicultural Affairs is notable for its positive results.

ACE sets into motion a sense of continuity as a Tar Heel.  “Current and incoming students benefit from this special time to build bonds among peers and cultivate a community of support with faculty and staff,” notes Wilson Suitt.  “Many students maintain strong relationships with their ACE counselors throughout their first year.”

Now in its 20th year, ACE (initially called “Pre-Orientation” until its more upbeat name change two years ago), is supported by campus partners, who donate services towards ensuring that students feel part of the larger Carolina community.  Among the partners who will be hosting programs during the experience are the Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling, New Student and Carolina Programs, Academic Advising, Department of Housing and Residential Education, Undergraduate Retention, and the Department of Public SafetyIf you are interested in becoming a community partner, please contact Dr. Wilson Suitt at

The program is free, but registration is required.  Click here to register (deadline is July 29, 2016)

Related Links:

Previous ACE features: 

Resources in the Aftermath of Orlando Tragedy

In light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs acknowledges that individuals who may be personally affected by the horrible event may be in need of support.  Many of you may have read the Message from the Chancellor, regarding resources available at Carolina to help us deal with the shock in the aftermath of this awful event.

UNC-Chapel Hill offers a number of resources for faculty, staff, and students.  As we all grapple with the emotional impact of this latest attack on innocent people, we urge anyone in need to reach out to the following outlets:

  • Counseling and Psychological Services – James A. Taylor Building, 320 Emergency Room Drive, 919-966-2281,
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Center – SASB North, Suite 3226, 919-843-5376,
  • Equal Opportunity and Compliance (EOC) Office – 137 E. Franklin Street, Suite 404, 919-966-3576,
  • Employee Assistance Program – 877-314-5841 (24 hours a day),


This message is sponsored by Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, a division of Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement.

MSRC Internships Available

Numerous Minority Student Recruitment Committee (MSRC) work opportunities are available for current students:

  • Campus Visitation Coordinator (CVC)
  • Excellence and Initiatives Coordinator (EIC)
  • Latina/o Programs Coordinator (LPC)
  • Media and Public Relations Coordinator (MPRC)

if you are interested in any of the above positions, please click here to apply.

Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Office Operations

The following message was sent to campus diversity liaisons, UCIED members, and IDIC members by Felicia A. Washington, vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement:

I am writing to follow up on Taffye Benson Clayton’s message to our diversity partners about her transition from Carolina to pursue another leadership opportunity.  We are grateful for Taffye’s years of service and her efforts and accomplishments in pursuit of the DMA motto: Enriching the Journey.  I know you join me in wishing only the best for her.

During this transitional period, DMA will continue to focus on the University’s commitment to fostering a welcoming and inclusive place for all in our community. In the near term, the work of the office remains focused on several time-sensitive summer programs and deliverables. Please continue to reach out to the DMA directors who lead the following areas:

  • Our many summer pipeline and welcome programs – including Project Uplift, Uplift PLUS, Achieving Carolina Excellence (ACE), and others – remain a highly visible sign of Carolina’s commitment to access and engagement.  Please direct any questions on such programs to Ada Wilson-Suitt ( Director of Inclusive Student Excellence.
  • Our campus diversity liaisons are currently compiling important information and data on diversity programming within schools and units, which will be used to complete the annual Diversity Plan Report to be released this fall. Please direct any remaining submissions or questions on the assessment to Xiaowen Qin (, Director of Diversity Research, Assessment, and Analytics.
  • Planning and staging for fall diversity educational offerings and programs, including THINKposium, continues.  Please contact Marco Barker (, Senior Director for Education, Operations, and Initiatives, with questions, requests, or suggestions.

We will also take this opportunity to evaluate diversity and inclusion efforts across campus and determine the most effective ways to lead and serve our campus community moving forward. As the process unfolds, we will invite the campus diversity liaisons and our faculty, staff and students to be part of those conversations. Stay tuned for more information.

In the meantime, if you have questions or need assistance outside of the areas listed above, please contact Becci Menghini (, Sr. Associate Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy Equity and Engagement, who serves as my chief of staff, to ensure that your requests and needs are appropriately managed. Further, if you’ve not already done so, I invite you to subscribe to Diversity in the News, DMA’s monthly newsletter, to stay connected to diversity and inclusion happenings at Carolina.

4th annual Diversity THINKposium comes in August

On August 17, 2016, from 9:00-3:00 PM, the 4th annual Diversity THINKposium will be held at Friday Center, UNC Chapel Hill. The THINKposium is meant to be a non-conventional approach to addressing diversity, inspiring action, and facilitating the solution-making process.

The day-long program is designed to allow participants to explore and understand the nature and impact of microaggressions in the higher education enterprise. Participants will explore language, behaviors, policies and practices that impact the classroom, workplace and educational experiences for students and faculty/staff at Carolina. The discussions and keynote should help them reflect on their own practices, understand the concepts and behaviors that perpetuate oppression of marginalized identities; and, be part of facilitated conversations to develop capacity and skill to address the issue within their own units and departments. The program will include a keynote and concurrent workshops focusing on strategies for responding and positively disrupting in teaching/learning and the workplace.

This year, the keynote speaker will be Dr. Damon A. Williams, Senior Vice President for Programs, Training, and Youth Development for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Dr. Williams is a scholar, leader, and educator passionate about making organization’s inclusive and excellent for all, creating equitable educational outcomes, and activating learning, youth development, and leadership in ways that are transformative and inspiring of new possibilities. He has authored or co-authored dozens of books, monographs, and articles and, is widely considered one of the nation’s most dynamic and innovative leaders, winning the 2013 National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) Inclusive Excellence Award for Leadership, and serving as invited keynote speaker and thought leader to more than 300 institutions globally.

Prior to joining the BGCA, Dr. Williams served for five years as associate vice chancellor, vice provost, chief diversity officer, and member of the educational leadership and policy analysis faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  There, he founded the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement (DDEEA) a vertically integrated portfolio divisional infrastructure that includes one of the nation’s largest pre-college to college k-16 scholarship based pipeline development program (n=1300 students), the world’s only hip-hop urban arts scholarship program learning community (Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives/First Wave), innovative campus-wide partnerships to enhance STEM achievement, leadership development of intercollegiate athletes (Beyond the Game), faculty diversification, research centers (Wei Lab), and a four-city partnership with the National Posse Foundation.

In addition to the keynote speaker, the day will also feature UNC faculty and staff who will share their efforts to addressing the issue within the classroom, clinical settings and in the workplace during the lunch “Diversity in Action” segment.

The THINKposium is free and registration is closed at this time. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. We will update with more information as we come closer to August. You can also follow the latest updates and learn more through the facebook page (, or the website (

The Diversity THINKposium is hosted by Diversity and Multicultural Affairs in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences and the Center for Faculty Excellence, and with financial support and contributions from multiple campus partners.

UNC-CH Ranks in Top 10 National Public Universities for African Americans

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – a top public research university with a strong focus on access and affordability and high graduation rates – ranks ninth among the nation’s best public universities for African Americans, according to MONEY and Essence magazines. The publications collaborated to analyze more than 1,500 four-year colleges and universities to single out the ones that offer the best value for African-American students.

To determine the 50 Best Schools for African Americans, the methodology focused on colleges and universities that offer both high value and a supportive environment measuring factors including graduation rates, affordability, earnings potential and representation. Among both national public and private institutions of higher education, Carolina ranked 23rd overall.

We are pleased to be acknowledged as one of the top institutions of higher education for African American students,” said Taffye Benson Clayton, associate vice chancellor for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and chief diversity officer. “As the nation’s first public university, with a distinct southern history and a global footprint, we are gratified by the growth and important milestones achieved in matters of race, diversity and inclusion at Carolina. We are encouraged by this recognition and aspire to accomplish even greater successes for African American students and all students on our campus.”

U.S. News and World Report has ranked Carolina in the top five of national public universities for 15 consecutive years and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has ranked the university first among the 100 best U.S. public colleges and universities that offer high-quality academics at an affordable price 15 times. The University also features 325 study abroad programs in 70 countries and it ranks among the nation’s most successful public universities in attracting research funding from federal agencies.

Additionally, Carolina provides outstanding access and affordability through signature programs like Carolina Covenant, UNC-Chapel Hill’s over a decade-long promise to low-income youth who earn admission that they can graduate debt-free with help from grants, scholarships and work-study jobs.

The university’s Carolina Firsts program has also created a pathway of opportunity for the almost 20 percent of UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduates who are the first in their family to attend college.

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs

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Campus Climate Survey Ends May 7

Carolina will conduct a survey of the climate for inclusion and diversity on campus from April 11 to May 7.

Staff and students will receive an email link to the Inclusion and Diversity Climate Survey. The staff survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. Both the undergraduate and graduate and professional student surveys take approximately 25–35 minutes to complete.  A paper version of the survey will be available in Burmese, Karen and Spanish.

The survey is one of seven actions that Chancellor Carol L. Folt shared last December that will help address concerns that students, faculty and staff raised during the Nov. 19 Town Hall on race and inclusion that drew nearly 900 people to Memorial Hall, said Felicia A. Washington, vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement.

“Along with other University leaders, I am committed to creating an environment where everyone – students, faculty and staff – feels like they belong here,” Washington said. “It is not enough to say everyone has a right to be here. Our charge is to do all that we can to make everyone feel welcome – and engaged. This survey is just one tool that we can use to accomplish that.”

The survey is open to all students, both undergraduate and graduate, and all staff employees, whether permanent or temporary, Washington said. Faculty will receive a separate assessment that is focused on inclusion and diversity next academic year.

The survey will be administered by Higher Education Researcher Institute (HERI), a leading authority on institutional climate assessment with experience working with diverse learning environments.

The HERI research team will also hold focus groups in conjunction with the survey.

“We want everyone to participate in this survey,” Washington said. Several incentives being offered will encourage that participation.

All students who participate will receive a $5 Amazon gift card, while supplies last. All staff members will have their names placed in a drawing to win one of six iPad mini tablets.

“We want everybody, whether in their learning environment or their work environment, to feel a sense of belonging on this campus. This survey will help us learn what next steps are needed to ensure Carolina is that kind of place,” Washington said.

This is an updated version of the UNC Gazette story that ran on March 22, 2016