Kas Williams has been named Misericordia University's Associate Vice President for Mission Integration and Institutional Diversity, announced Amy Lahart, Vice President for Mission Integration and Student Life. Williams joined the Misericordia University community in September following seven years at South Dakota State University, where she recently held the position of Chief Diversity Officer. Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Master of Arts in Student Affairs Administration from South Dakota State University.
"This position is critical to advance Misericordia University’s desire to live out its mission through vision and strategy implementation of significant diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Ms. Williams will collaborate with division directors, campus leaders, students, faculty, staff, and external constituencies to embed the critical concerns into all campus operations and provide leadership to cultivate pride in our Mercy heritage as a Mercy institution of higher education," said Lahart.
"To me, this role looks at the quality of life that people have in and around the campus community. We can tell people all the time that we're diverse but are we inclusive? This isn't my quote, but I say it all the time: 'diversity is inviting people to the dance, but inclusion is inviting people to dance'," said Williams.
"I've told the folks here that they are all passionate about diversity and inclusion because they love the institution. There's great energy around here and I'm excited to be here. It's a great place and eight years from now I'll be saying the same thing: the values of this institution are what keeps people here. That's the energy that folks have. They love the hospitality. They love the social justice. They work towards that every day," she continued.
Williams has spent her first month on campus getting to know the campus community, speaking with individual students, student groups, under-represented student groups, as well as staff and faculty. She's delved into the most recent campus climate survey. "I read every word and every line of the campus survey. Lots of folks here are doing great work in diversity, but the work isn't always connected. Their hearts are in the right place; they see the gaps and they want to do the work. I want to really change the conversation and make sure we are all speaking the same language of diversity and inclusion on this campus," said Williams.
Williams looks at diversity, inclusion, and access through what she calls an equity lens. She encourages each department to look at their policies and procedures at least every six months using that equity lens. "Are some policies inadvertently affecting some communities or populations? I tell people, don't change your policies now, just think about it. What happens is, once they start thinking about it, that becomes an everyday practice and becomes natural. Equity and inclusion doesn't take anything away; they add to who and what we are as an institution," she said