Skleder appoints Working Group on Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence

For more information about the Working Group on Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence please contact email them at

Brenau University is taking tangible steps to ensure it becomes a leader in diversity, equity and inclusive excellence.

During the tumultuous days of last summer as the country was reeling from the senseless deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and the many others before him, Brenau University President Anne Skleder created the Working Group on Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence. This group is charged
with leading the development of short- and longer-term strategies in these areas.

Skleder says the research is clear that strength comes through diversity and diversity truly thrives when equity and inclusiveness are extended to all. “Organizations that embrace and celebrate diversity execute their missions best,” Skleder says. “As we prepare students to enter a global workforce, it is imperative that they have positive day-to-day lived experiences on our campuses that embrace these values as they engage people from diverse backgrounds and values.”

Skleder says to ensure this is a sustainable effort, these initiatives will inform the university’s new strategic plan that is currently being developed and will drive Brenau’s direction and mission for the foreseeable future.

“As a university, we are committed to being a community that engages the full potential of each individual, where innovation thrives, and views, beliefs and values are integrated,” Skleder says.

“This endeavor is not a short-term one nor one with easy answers. As a community, our responsibility is to ensure that we are an excellent leader in diversity, equity and inclusion.”

A Sustainable Effort

Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives that will inform Brenau’s new strategic plan include but are not limited to:

  • Recommending racial equity education for each segment of the university.
  • Proposing a plan to ensure that Brenau is increasing diversity, defined broadly in all areas of the university.
  • Facilitating a series of Brenau Conversations around issues of diversity, equity and inclusive excellence for students, faculty, staff and alumni.
  • Developing a process to consult on issues of race/ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, disability, class, sexual orientation and other salient identities and experiences for students, faculty, staff and alumni.
  • Recommending ways to make Brenau curriculum more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
  • Recommending ways to make Brenau co-curricular and extracurricular activities more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
  • Making recommendations in other areas.
Margie Gill, BU ’10, left, associate professor of psychology. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Margie Gill, BU ’10, associate professor of psychology, and Amanda Lammers, vice president of student services, were tapped by Skleder to serve as the university’s co-chief diversity leaders and co-chairs of the Working Group on Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence at Brenau University. Respected members of the Brenau community, both welcome the opportunity to serve the university in such a meaningful way.

“Founded as a women’s college, Brenau has from the very beginning embraced its mission to broaden access to higher education,” says Lammers, who also has served as the university’s Title IX coordinator for the past six years. “In order to continue that goal in the present day, our institution must make every effort to give equal ear to all voices. Now more than ever, we need all members of the Brenau community to live and promote the Brenau Ideal, especially ‘Hate Never.’ From my perspective, this work boils down to making sure every single member of the Brenau community feels equally valued and empowered.”

Gill also serves as the assistant clinic director at the Brenau Center for Counseling and Psychological Services in Gainesville and Norcross, and is a graduate of the Clinical Counseling Psychology master’s program at Brenau University. She says that “diversity does not represent one person and is not a one-person job. It takes all of us to do our part in making systemic, long-lasting change. When we work together, we can accomplish more. We are leaders and life-long learners. Now is the time to lead by showing others we can learn from each other. No matter what we face, we are Brenau strong!”

The first order of business for the co-chairs was to put together a team that involved an open process for anyone in the Brenau community to apply for consideration.

“Just as there is strength in numbers, there is strength in diversity,” Gill says. “The working group consists of faculty, staff, students and alums from a variety of abilities, interests, backgrounds and experiences. We understand the importance of representation by race, gender, age, ability, religion, class, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, veteran status, ethnicity, etc. There is a shared value to dismantle obstacles for underrepresented groups and create unity throughout Brenau University and our community.”

Members of the Working Group on Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence are aware that they are engaging in work that often exists in a politically charged environment, but they insist that this initiative is neither political nor partisan.

Amanda Lammers, vice president of student services (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“Brenau University remains committed to celebrating and promoting the dignity and equity of every human being, and using our educational platform to teach the skills necessary to empower our students to live the Brenau Ideal,” Lammers says.

Skleder and the group understand that lasting societal change takes time and can be frustrating, but they believe that the working group is up to the task, as is the larger university community. Once the group’s work is completed, it will continue to exist as an
advisory committee.

“Knowing this is a marathon of a project rather than a sprint in response to world events, we want to make sure we have a firm foundation,” Lammers says. “There are plenty of places to start and plenty of eagerness to jump in, but in consultation with President Skleder, we believe the logical first step is data gathering. We believe a comprehensive study of all Brenau constituents and other data points will provide the necessary guidance to direct our efforts.”

The working group has a litany of goals it wants to accomplish including:

  • Training faculty, staff and students in diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Increasing the representation of diverse faculty, staff, students, administration and community partners.
  • Enhancing academic engagement and performance by incorporating content and coursework from multiple perspectives.
  • Enhancing recruitment, retention and promotion of diverse faculty and staff from historically underrepresented populations.
  • Developing and strengthening diverse community partnerships.
  • Mitigating concerns and incidents that are diversity, equity and inclusivity related.

Gill says that while this list only represents some of the possible recommendations, “we are certain Brenau will make a concerted effort to create a culturally inclusive environment to educate, grow and serve. We believe in our Brenau family. Therefore, investments made today will prepare our 21st century leaders of tomorrow.”

Student action

Many times throughout our history, Brenau students have raised their voices, organized and stood up to make Brenau and our community a better, more compassionate and more equitable place. We are grateful for their hard work, efforts and passion.

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