Cabinet Conversations: Equity at the Core: Achieving the Dream

April 5, 2022

Equity at the Core: Achieving the Dream

tracy-harris-headshot.jpgBy Dr. Tracy Harris
Vice President
Student Equity and Success

As vice president of student equity and success, I eagerly and proudly carry forth our message that the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) is devoted to equity, access, and diversity, for all individuals, whether on our campuses or in our community. CSM adopted a “one college” model some time ago to bridge our region and provide accessible, high-quality education with equity and diversity at the core of everything we do. Since 2019, CSM has re-centered much of our equity work through the Achieving the Dream initiative (ATD). ATD is a national network of colleges committed to issues of student equity and access.

Equity, access, and diversity are more than just words to us: It is our commitment to a culture of student and employee achievement wherever people are in their academic or professional journey. Equity and access demand commitments from both sides ... students sharing their experiences, and we at CSM responding, accordingly. Our culture is ever evolving in our dialogue and support of our students, faculty, and staff in a way that recognizes the tenets of equity and diversity, while also identifying those activities which don’t meet our goals. 

We spend a great deal of time discussing how we connect with students, faculty, and staff to ensure an understanding of equity, access, and diversity. However, we must continue to do more than just talk about these issues. We must continue to “be about” these issues and continue to lead our community to ensure we are doing what is required.  These concepts should not be based solely on ethnicity or gender. Every student has a right and expectation for equal access to all services and support, as well as the same opportunity for personal and academic success. CSM works tirelessly to give wherever we see a need. We have provided computers, calculators, internet access, food pantries, increased our advising and counseling staff. When we see a need, we do backflips to fill it! 

Equity is more than just a word. For CSM, equity refers to supporting a culture where all students have equal opportunities to apply and receive federal, state, or institutional financial aid, where students have the necessary tools and technology to excel in the classroom, and the ability to support themselves and their families while they are enrolled at CSM. 

ATD helps us reflect on our institutional commitment to meeting the needs of our diverse student body and provides the framework for moving forward. CSM’s commitment to our region, our students, and our region’s workforce is imbedded in our strategic plan with the first stated goal encapsulating our ATD work. Our three goals are clearly outlined...Clarifying the Path, Systemizing the Supports, and Demystifying the Finances. This is who we are. This is our commitment. Through this work, CSM is a beacon for excellence in equity for Southern Maryland. 

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