Misericordia names associate vice president for Mission Integration and diversity

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Oct. 26—DALLAS TWP. — Misericordia University named Kas Williams as Associate Vice President for Mission Integration and Institutional Diversity. Williams spent seven years at South Dakota State University, most recently as Chief Diversity Officer. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Master of Arts in Student Affairs Administration from South Dakota State University.

"This position is critical to advance Misericordia University's desire to live out its mission through vision and strategy implementation of significant diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives," Amy Lahart, Vice President for Mission Integration and Student Life, said in a media release. "Ms. Williams will collaborate with division directors, campus leaders, students, faculty, staff, and external constituencies to embed the critical concerns into all campus operations and provide leadership to cultivate pride in our Mercy heritage as a Mercy institution of higher education."

"To me, this role looks at the quality of life that people have in and around the campus community," Williams said in the release. "We can tell people all the time that we're diverse but are we inclusive? This isn't my quote, but I say it all the time: 'diversity is inviting people to the dance, but inclusion is inviting people to dance'.

"There's great energy around here and I'm excited to be here. It's a great place and eight years from now I'll be saying the same thing: the values of this institution are what keeps people here. That's the energy that folks have. They love the hospitality. They love the social justice. They work towards that every day."

Williams spent a month getting to know the campus community and review the latest campus climate survey. "Lots of folks here are doing great work in diversity, but the work isn't always connected," she said in the release. "Their hearts are in the right place; they see the gaps and they want to do the work. I want to really change the conversation and make sure we are all speaking the same language of diversity and inclusion on this campus."

She encourages each department to look at their policies and procedures at least every six months using an "equity lens". "Are some policies inadvertently affecting some communities or populations? I tell people, don't change your policies now, just think about it. What happens is, once they start thinking about it, that becomes an everyday practice and becomes natural. Equity and inclusion doesn't take anything away; they add to who and what we are as an institution."

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

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