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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Tackling campus labor shortages, SHACS and theatre

In the 2019 spring semester, the College intends to fill 18 on-campus positions, most notably in the student health and counseling services (SHACS) and the theatre and dance department.

“We are looking for individuals who have an interest in contributing to a strong academic environment that also concentrates on developing students to fulfill our mission,” wrote Stacy Koehler, associate director employee recruiting and support, in an email to The S&B. “A belief in social justice and diversity and inclusion is also important.” 

As Grinnell College claims to support diversity and inclusion, interim diversity officer Leslie Gregg-Jolly suggests that those involved in the hiring process be mindful of their applicant pool. In an email to the Scarlet & Black, Gregg-Jolly referred to the Grinnell College Faculty Recruitment Guidelines & Procedures, which states that “a community that encompasses a diversity of people and perspectives is the foundation of excellence in the liberal arts.” A key way of achieving diversity is for recruiters to refer to networks supporting diverse candidates. The Consortium for Faculty Diversity database, the National Science Foundation, the National Women’s Studies Association and historically black colleges and universities, among other special caucuses and committees, are cited in the handbook as resources to pull more candidates with diverse backgrounds.

To address mental health needs for students, The College recently hired Dr. Eric Wood, a psychologist with 12 years of experience in college mental health, as dean for health and wellness. Over the course of his career, Dr. Wood has worked with two federal grants from the Department of Health and Human Services, been named a diversity scholar for national organizations and served on an advisory board for a consortium of schools.

SHACS currently offers free tele-psychiatry services through University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and partners with the University of Iowa psychology doctoral program for in-person visits. Students can choose to participate in either group or individual sessions, depending on their goals for counseling. However, the doctoral students work part-time, and as a result the College lacks a full time, on-site psychologist.

“[Dr.] Wood will promote comprehensive prevention programs that support goals for diversity, inclusion, and belonging across the College, as well as support strategic leadership in the areas of health and mental health services,” wrote Sarah Mochenross in an email to The S&B. “Given the shortage of psychologists in the state and the nation, we are especially thrilled to have someone of [Dr.] Wood’s expertise and experience on campus.”

Dr. Wood, who is African-American, wrote in an email to The S&B that he looks forward to working at the College. He acknowledges that there are not many psychologists of color or with diverse identities, and though he holds many accomplishments, they are not representative of the field embodying diversity.

“I often find myself to be the only person of color in the room, and, sadly, this relates to historical factors as opposed to the intent of any particular institution.”

Nonetheless, he wrote that working at Grinnell presents an exciting opportunity for himself and the College.

“Grinnell [College]’s desire for a psychologist with experience in college mental health undoubtedly meant that the school wanted someone who was thriving and happily working at another institution. Such was the case for me, and because of this, and my obligations to students, etc., transitioning was necessarily a drawn-out process. I will say that during 12 years at my previous institution, I’ve turned down 4 unsolicited offers from other institutions, and my previous school made several counter offers to keep me. I only say this to highlight how Grinnell is a very compelling place to work,” Wood wrote.

The theatre and dance student educational policy committee hopes to work with the College to replace Professor Ellen Mease’s imminent vacancy by attracting candidates of color.

Theatre and dance is notably dominated by white people, notably men; therefore, the committee argues that having someone from a marginalized identity would diversify the department and fulfill the College’s commitment of creating an excellent academic environment. The representatives of the committee could not be reached for additional comment before the publishing of this article. The S&B will continue to cover the department as well as other vacancies.

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