The new position will focus on training, recruitment and retention.
Melvin Beavers, assistant professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing, has been selected as the inaugural Chancellor’s Fellow for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
The fellow is responsible for helping to coordinate and support all diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on campus including DEI training, diversity recruitment and retention for both students and employees, program development, curricular development and policy advising.
“I’m thrilled and excited to be in this new position that is needed and warranted at our institution,” Beavers said. “I really want to be a part of a team effort to reshape how we approach diversity, equity and inclusion at the university.”
In his new role, Beavers will work with existing diversity groups on campus to enhance and coordinate their activities and will also advise the chancellor and cabinet on new initiatives to improve DEI outcomes.
“Dr. Beavers has a proven track record of thought leadership and academic research concerning antiracist pedagogies as a means for broader social change,” Chancellor Christina Drale said. “As the Chancellor’s DEI Fellow, he will have a larger platform from which to guide our institutional endeavors toward more diverse, equitable and inclusive outcomes.”
Beavers is a published writer and frequent speaker on the subject of diversity and inclusion, according to a press release. He recently delivered a presentation at Bentley University called Embodying Race and Language in the Writing Classroom: Becoming an Antiracist Writing Program & Becoming an Antiracist Writing Instructor. He is also a member of the Institute of Race, Rhetoric and Literacy, a national organization of scholars that provide expertise on antiracism.
Beavers has also written a chapter, My Journey Toward Antiracist Pedagogy and Praxis: My Language and Identity, for the McGraw Hill Instructor’s Guide: Writing for College, Writing for Life. Additionally, he has been working with the Council of Writing Program Administrators to make the outcomes for first-year writing programs in higher education more inclusive. These outcomes are often used to evaluate college writing programs and to set goals for writing classes.
“It’s about developing an idea of language diversity and pushing against the assumption that there is only one standard way that students should use their language in the writing classroom,” he said.
Beavers earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Central Arkansas as well as a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration from UA Little Rock.
He joined UA Little Rock in 2015 as an instructor and is also the director of first-year writing. In his new position, Beavers said he wants to work with fellow faculty members to showcase how faculty are bringing DEI solutions into the classroom.
“I would love to start an intergroup dialogue with other colleges and departments and find out what other faculty are doing that we can spotlight and highlight,” Beavers said. “In my class, I highlight BIPOC scholars and writers that are writing about racial issues or things that help us have these difficult conversations. This is one way faculty can move toward centering diversity within their classrooms.”