DEPARTMENT OF CLASSICS
DIVERSITY ACTION PLAN
APRIL 2017, Updated March 2018, May 2019
Updated by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad
I. Faculty Professional Development
- We will participate in professional development opportunities on campus and elsewhere where the focus is working with students from diverse backgrounds.
- 2016-17: 5/8 faculty members (SafeZone; MIMA & other workshops)
- 2017-18 goal: 7/7 faculty members. At least 5/7 faculty members and our administrative assistant participated in these opportunities during 2017-18.
- 2018-19: fewer opportunities were available.
- 2019-20 goal: 8/8 faculty members. This includes all visiting faculty but not Professor Sloan, who intends to be on leave for the full year.
- This is an ongoing goal.
- The associated costs for this participation will be minimal.
- For 2017-18: We will host at least one Procolloquium (teleconference) or guest speaker on topics such as diversity in the ancient world or in the teaching of classics and classical languages.
In 2018-19, Professor Gellar-Goad organized a series of in-person and Proculloquium guest speakers on the theme of “Classics beyond Europe.” All 6 spoke on qualifying topics: Classics and Afro-Caribbean literature, Classics and African American theater, Classics and Brazilian poetry, Classics and racism, Classics and white supremacy, and Black professional Classicists. 5 of the 6 speakers were persons of color.
Goal: for 2019-20, Dr. Hines and Professor Gellar-Goad are organizing a major programming series on the theme of “Classics beyond Whiteness.” If the Dean’s Office, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, and other units approve funding requests that are still pending — and if all invited speakers & facilitators confirm — we will have 9 events and 2 art exhibitions all focused directly on diversity in the ancient world and in the modern field. Five of the 6 invited speakers are persons of color. One of the art exhibitions involves a collaboration with a local artist of color to produce portraits of “hidden figures” in the history of Classics in North Carolina.
II. Public Statements
- We have used our department website to make clear, first, our commitment to welcoming all students to the study of the classical world, and second, the ways in which the study of classics can challenge stereotypes. In 2019-20, we will build on “best practices” work on diversity statements within our discipline in order to create a new front-page statement for our website, to revise our diversity statement, and to update our “Pro Humanitate” statement to reflect the perspectives of marginalized members of our campus community.
- During Black History Month in 2018, we highlighted the work of five African-American Classicists. For Black History Month in 2019, we brought a Black guest speaker (Patrice Rankine) who talked about Classics and White supremacy at our highest-attendance-ever talk. For Black History Month in 2020, we will have a traveling exhibit on 14 Black Classicists brought to ZSR, alongside newly commissioned portraits of Black Classicists from North Carolina (provided that funding requested from ODOC, ODI, and elsewhere is approved), and we will host a screening of Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq (an adaptation of an ancient Greek play) with an interdisciplinary and multiracial panel of experts.
III. Student Recruitment and Retention
- Strategies in course offerings
- Classics 261. This was once again a large and diverse class.
- Classics 252. Professors Lather and Gellar-Goad taught the revised course Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the Antiquity for the first time in 2017-18, and were awarded a Teaching Innovation award. They will teach it again in 2020. In 2019-20, we will request the WGS department approve it for WGS divisional credit (it is already cross-listed in WGS). In the longer term, ODOC could show its commitment to diversity by allowing this team-taught course to count as a full course for each professor rather than as half a course, which creates a disincentive for our department to offer it.
- The First Year Seminar and the Seminar in the Major are two areas where we can highlight a wide variety of topics. Professor Gellar-Goad is coordinating this year with Nate French to recruit as many incoming Magnolia Scholars as possible to join his living-learning community FYS.
- In Fall 2019, Professor Gellar-Goad is offering a half-semester course, “Classics Beyond Whiteness.” In Spring 2020, Dr. Hines will teach CLA 381, The Seminar in the Major, on a topic that addresses various contemporary receptions of ancient literature and culture.
- In 2019-20, both Professor Warren and Professor Gellar-Goad are doing the LLC-FYS-advising trifecta and serving as faculty fellow for their respective dorms — a set of high-impact practices for developing students’ sense of belonging and academic engagement, particularly important for first-generation students and students from backgrounds that aren’t dominant at a PWI like Wake Forest.
- We continue to explore a new Greek sequence (GRK 111-112-153) adapted to the needs of underprepared students. This will be a demanding teaching assignment, because research suggests that students will fare best with a single instructor throughout. Thus one area we are exploring is the need for additional faculty, something that would require significant funding. In 2018-19 Professor Sloan tried to do a pilot of this during the summer but was unable to attract any enrollments. ODOC could show its commitment to diversity by approving a 2-year postdoc (beyond our current staffing needs) that would free up Professor Sloan to pilot this Greek sequence during the academic year.
- Reports from the Registrar in March show that with newly declared majors and minors our students are over 50% women. Fourteen percent of majors and minors identify as Hispanic (2), Black or African American (1), Asian (3), or two or more races (1).
- Strategic use of our student funds.
- The Andronica Fund has been used to honor a newly declared major; in 2017 we worked with Financial Aid to identify the students with the greatest financial need, and we made the award to them. We expect to continue this pattern. We continued this pattern in 2018-19, making two awards, and will continue it in 2019-20, although the funding is nearly depleted.
- The William Royall Fund supports summer study or travel. We are committed to making as many awards as possible this year and going forward. We continued this practice in 2018-19 and will continue it in 2019-20.
IV. Faculty Recruitment
With the arrival of Professor Amy Lather the department for the first time has two women in tenured and tenure-track positions. During 2017-18 we had the pleasure of hosting Professor Dominic Machado, the first person of color to teach with us. He received tenure-track offers, to begin 2018-19, and we were not able to compete with them. One of our finalists for the postdoc search in 2018-19 was a person of color, and the other two were women.
Finally, because of the importance and complexity of this issue it will become a regular topic in our summer departmental planning meetings. This topic remains part of our summer agenda.
After encouraging results from a discussion between Professor Pendergraft and Dean Still in April 2019, we intend to ask ODOC to approve us to do a search in 2019-20 for a 3-year Teacher-Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow (to begin in 2020-21) explicitly advertised to recruit Classicists of color. Many of our peer and aspirational peer institutions have campus-wide initiatives along these lines, so the precedent is available and compelling.