Photo: Sara Vacin, of Batavia, is the GCC's first diversity and inclusion coordinator.
Submitted photo and press release:
Officials at Genesee Community College secured a SUNY Performance Improvement Fund (PIF) grant for a new project entitled "Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion." This two-year grant will support the development of programs and strategies that advance inclusive excellence at GCC by providing opportunities for adjunct internships; faculty scholarship and mentorship; college-wide professional development; and direct support to diverse student groups.
Additionally, Genesee Community College will participate in the State University of New York (SUNY) Cultural Competency Community of Practice. The Community of Practice connects GCC with other SUNY colleges working toward similar objectives. Dr. Kate Schiefen, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, is serving as the College's principle investigator on this project.
This past June, GCC took the first step toward implementing the Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion project by naming Sara Vacin, of Batavia, as the College's first diversity and inclusion coordinator. As such, Vacin will work with various departments within the College to accomplish the following three strategic priorities:
- Create a training video for hiring committees to understand and combat implicit bias;
- Establish a mentorship program for potential underrepresented adjuncts;
- Design a visiting scholar program to allow faculty members to experience diverse campuses and shadow a faculty member in their discipline.
GCC's efforts directly related to the inclusive excellence can now be viewed on the new webpage here. In addition to promoting events, this webpage houses resources for faculty, students and staff on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as information on how to foster cultural competency.
In correlation with GCC's recently released 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, Framing Our Future, Vacin will work to "…cultivate a community that fosters respect and appreciation for individual and group differences, as well as demonstrate our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion throughout all endeavors." (2018-2023 Strategic Plan, Priority 3. (View the Strategic Plan here.)
Vacin earned a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion through Cornell University this year and graduated summa cum laude with a Master of Science in Clinical and Applied Nutrition from New York Chiropractic College in 2010. She also earned certification for Secondary Education in 7-12th Grade Theatre Arts from the Graduate School of Education at Trinity University in 2005, and magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Arts from Towson University in 1999.
She has served as an adjunct professor at GCC since 2015 and at Niagara County Community College since 2009. She is currently the program developer and director for the Third Prison from the Sun Theatre Group at the Attica Correctional Facility, as well as teaches college classes there. She is excited to bring her theater skills to the development of the video and to use her extensive teaching and presenting background to educate the campus and community on the importance of diversity and inclusion.