The university is seeking applications and nominations of students, staff and faculty to serve as campus climate ambassadors who will help lead conversations about steps the institution can take to improve its overall campus climate through the attitudes, perceptions and standards of the UMass Amherst community.
“We’d like to build a core team of students, staff and faculty who are interested in engaging their peers in purposeful conversation about where we are and how to get to where we want to be,” says Enobong (Anna) Branch, associate chancellor for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. “It’s an excellent engagement opportunity.”
Ambassadors will facilitate or co-facilitate small, peer group conversations with students, staff and faculty within schools, colleges and executive areas. These climate conversations will help to identify unit goals by enabling groups to reflect together on what needs to happen at the unit level to move the university toward its aspirational climate, that is an environment that protects intellectual exploration, advances mutual respect and promotes inclusivity in the classroom, workplace and on campus.
To apply or nominate someone to become an ambassador, visit www.umass.edu/diversity/initiatives/campus-climate-ambassadors.
“The campus climate ambassadors will be facilitating conversations that will ultimately inform revisions to the diversity strategic plan,” says Branch. “It is really important that we hear from the full range of campus voices about our next steps. We particularly want to encourage non-professional staff to be a part of leading this conversation.”
As part of the application, individuals are asked to describe their strengths, their methods for approaching discussions with people from different viewpoints, how they view themselves as part of the solution to improve the campus climate, and what they hope to gain from the experience. Applications are due Feb. 15. Ambassadors will be selected and notified by Feb. 23.
Once selected, ambassadors will receive training in facilitation by Workforce Learning and Development as well as the Ombuds Office. The training will prepare ambassadors to lead structured discussions within assigned areas on campus. Discussions will focus on how each person, office or department, unit, and school or college can contribute to the university’s educational mission. Through these conversations, groups will also identify the climate-related challenges and brainstorm possibilities for change at the unit level as well as for the broader campus.
“In addition to applying, nominating individuals to serve as ambassadors is an important part of the process,” Branch says. “I’m hoping that at the intersection of individuals who have expressed interest in engaging with the campus climate and those who have said they’re waiting to see what happens next, a strong cohort of people who want to make change will emerge and begin to put us on a path toward our aspirational climate.”
All selected ambassadors will receive a personalized UMass Amherst jacket, attend a luncheon with Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and choose from a variety of sporting events to attend as the chancellor’s guest in the 2018-19 academic year.