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A Community United through Diversity

Founded in 1819, Centre College is a top liberal arts college committed to continuing efforts to build and strengthen a community enriched by differences and founded upon common humanity. Centre strives to create an environment where differences are celebrated rather than discouraged, where individuals have the opportunity to exchange ideas and share in the richness of mutual experience. By valuing the individual’s total character over any single characteristic, Centre will maintain its unique community.

Randy Hays
Randy Hays, vice president and dean of student life, leads the Student Life Office comprised of 27 staff members across many departments, including the Office of Campus Activities, the Residence Life Office, the Parsons Student Health Center and Counseling Services, and the Campus Center, among others.

Reflecting on Centre’s commitment to diversity and community, Hays shares, “As we prepare our students for lives of
learning and service in a global society, it’s important for us to foster an appreciation for the diversity that unites us all. Creating community begins with so much of the work we do in student affairs — and it should be at the heart of our efforts.”

It is clear that Centre’s focus on diversity and inclusion goes beyond mere words. For example, Kathy Miles, director of counseling services at Centre, reflects on the importance of diversity to her work: “In student counseling services at Centre College, we consider it part of our essential work to reflect the college’s overall commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

By offering important opportunities such as training on LGBTQ issues to any interested member of the Centre community, encouraging counseling services staff to continually seek out readings and continuing education in diversity, and seeking student feedback regarding services offered, the commitment to diversity is prevalent throughout the campus community.

Jacob A. Raderer, assistant director of residence life, reflects on his office’s work towards diversity and inclusion by focusing, on the sense of community, and what that means for any and all identities that students bring to the table.

He shares, “An important aspect of [diversity and inclusion efforts] is encouraging the celebration of differences and backgrounds and providing students with the tools they need in order to have meaningful conversations.”

Raderer further explains much of this work is accomplished through regular audits of their programs’ and policies’ ability to meet students’ developmental needs.

As in counseling services and residence life, the college chaplain is also concerned with issues of diversity and inclusion. College Chaplain Rick Axtell, a professor of religion, suggests that his office is focused on creating an inclusive community based on differing faiths.

He shares, “At Centre, we focus on creating a community that is fully hospitable to students from a variety of religious backgrounds,” whether students identify as “Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, [or] Unitarian.

“This effort is assisted by Centre’s interfaith dialogue group sessions that allow students and faculty members to share their traditions with members of the campus community and answer questions about their beliefs and practices.”

It is their collective belief that they are a community united through diversity that makes the Student Life Office at Centre College one of this year’s “30+ Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs.”

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