Enrollment Management Incorporates DEI Learning

By Bob HeinrichBob Heinrich

Chief Enrollment Management Officer

Over the course of the past year, the Division of Enrollment Management’s leadership team has implemented several ongoing initiatives that support our institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion.

We are completely focused on improving our team members’ awareness of inclusiveness and respect beyond recognizing racial and ethnic differences to include the diversity of gender, religion, ability, experience and socio-economic background.

The team participated in a half-day retreat Aug. 19 on Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI). Jonathan “JJ” Johnson, assistant vice president for Student Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington, facilitated the retreat. Before joining the University of Texas, Johnson was a member of the Stockton family, serving several roles within the Division of Student Affairs from 2013 to 2019. One of his most significant accomplishments at Stockton was co-founding the retention initiative Sankofa.Johnathan Johnson

Since Johnson left Stockton, members of our leadership team have remained in contact and have been following his advocacy work. Tara Williams, director of Graduate Admissions, worked with Johnson over several months to design the JEDI session to meet the goals set by our leadership team.

We felt strongly that spending time on expanding our emotional intelligence training was necessary to better prepare our team for the important roles they have at the institution.

The JEDI session included the elements of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. The session centered on expanding awareness of how individuals of different backgrounds require a better understanding and management of our emotions in how we interact with one another as well as the students we serve.

We feel this is such an important skillset for all members of the Enrollment Management team, as we are student-facing and often the first individuals at the institution prospective Stockton students and their parents interact with. The experience they have will impact their decision on whether they decide to choose Stockton.

As we recruit more underrepresented students, it is very important for our team to be more aware of unintentional and unconscious biases and effective ways to properly communicate in an inclusive manner.

Other recent initiatives include:

  • For the incoming Class of 2021, we strengthened our Financial Aid initiatives to address equity gaps and implemented the Stockton Promise program for our neediest students. Most importantly, our team is committed to removing as many barriers as possible impacting our underrepresented students.
  • We reorganized the undergraduate and graduate admissions staffing and management with a renewed commitment to recruiting underrepresented students. We are also working jointly with our partners across campus to develop targeted recruitment and retention strategies, including using our GOALS/GEAR UP program as a pipeline for incoming first-year students and working with our Academic Affairs partners on information sessions aimed at diversifying students in STEM and Health Sciences.
  • In Fall 2020, Enrollment Management partnered with Marques Johnson, director of Residential Education and Support Services, to offer a cultural competency session for the teams within Admissions, Bursar and Financial Aid offices.

The leadership team considers the recent JEDI session a success and is looking forward to future sessions to further improve our team’s ability to interface more effectively with individuals from all different backgrounds.

I am an immigrant. Born and raised abroad, having moved to the U.S. as a self-aware adult, on a short cultural exchange program that turned into a lifelong stay.

My experience in the U.S. has been a study of contrasts. From day one, I felt out of place linguistically, culturally and educationally. My thought process colored by my primary language and rapid changes of the 20th century which shaped my image of myself - a person born in a country that no longer exists, nationless with a passport issued by my country of birth that says “Alien Non-Citizen,” unwanted by my “ethnic nation” and by my birth nation.

To live in a foreign country on another continent, to speak a third language, adopt a third culture and customs, while staying true to your own authentic self is humbling, and terrifying, and exciting, and full of amazing experiences, and very lonely. In the classroom, at work, at my own traditional holidays... being alone is lonely, and empowering. It is a study of contrasts.

Having a professional workshop centered around diversity and inclusion, for me, felt like another opportunity to be lonely. Because diversity (or the way it comes to mind at first) does not include someone like me - an educated white female, immigrant or not. To my surprise, Dr. Johnson centered the conversation around belonging - something no one has spoken about before. At least not to me, and certainly not inclusive of me.

Yet, having shaped the conversation around fostering the idea of employee belonging to inspire organizational innovation and personal and professional satisfaction, he allowed a voice like mine to be heard. And my study of contrasts to come forward as another perspective to be utilized for innovative ideas and positive change.

For the first time in my professional career I felt seen. I felt valued because I felt seen. All it takes is a well-crafted question that inspires self-analysis and a safe space for dialogue, and I thank Dr. Johnson for offering both in that unexpected yet inspiring workshop.

Reflection from Natalja Manger
International Student and Study Abroad Advisor