This January, College of Charleston School of the Arts (SOTA) Dean Edward Hart created the first SOTA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. Hart was recently appointed as Dean after serving as chair of the Department of Music since 2013. This committee is one of the large movements toward change that Hart has committed to since starting his new position.
“This committee was formed so that we all can better understand our school-wide issues regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion through reflection and dialogue, with a goal of instituting new practices and policies to address these issues,” Hart stated. “I believe that this effort reflects the values of the School of the Arts and is in keeping with the College’s emphasis on DEI found in the new strategic plan, led by President Hsu.”
In this monumental and historical formation of the DEI committee, Hart has appointed Dr. Jason C. White as the Inaugural Chair.
White has been an Assistant Professor of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship at the College since 2016. Artistically, he is best known as the playwright, co-actor and co-director of the multi-award nominated and NAACP award-winning educational play, See The Dance: The History of American Minstrelsy. Additionally, White received the SOTA Dean’s Excellence Award for the College of Charleston in 2017 and in 2020.
“I first came to know Dr. White while serving on his third-year review committee, and I found him to be a formidable scholar whose research often included matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Hart stated when asked why he chose White. “When I was appointed Dean, he was one of my first calls.”
When accepting the position of Inaugural Chair, White took on several responsibilities.
- Forming a committee of faculty, staff, and students in consultation with the Dean of the School of the Arts.
- Working with the committee to design, execute and administer an annual school-wide survey that assesses the degree to which SOTA students, faculty, and staff believe racial diversity, racial equity, and racial inclusion is promoted and supported in the School of the Arts. In addition, summarizing and reporting survey findings to the Dean.
- Working with the committee to design a concept and process by which grants can be made for SOTA DEI-centered projects.
- Working with the committee to establish a monthly dialogue regarding DEI issues and concerns reported by committee members; and discussing policy recommendations.
The DEI Committee will consist of SOTA student representatives, faculty representatives from each department/program, and SOTA staff representatives. Members for the current term are as follows:
Nandini B. McCauley – SOTA Administrative Staff
Yiorgos Vassilandonakis – Department of Music
Kristin A. Alexander – Dance Program
Nathaniel R. Walker – Department of Art & Architectural History
Barry Stiefel – Historic Preservation & Community Planning Program
Barbara M. Duval – Department of Studio Art
Christine L. Moore – Computing in the Arts Program
Vivian R. Appler – Theatre Program
Jason C. White – Arts Management Program
Bryan Granger – Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
Selynne Ancheta – SOTA Graduate Student Advocate
In the creation of the DEI Committee, Dean Hart and Dr. White have taken a major step in moving forward to better DEI in the School of the Arts and the College of Charleston community.