When Wintlett Taylor-Browne, Director of the Diversity Center, asked me to interview Luther’s new Dean for Institutional Equity and Inclusion, Lisa Scott, I jumped at the opportunity to spend a few minutes with the most in-demand person on campus right now. Her laid-back yet confident demeanor made the conversation flow as I asked her about her position and plans for diversity and inclusion efforts on campus.
The many requests for meetings and collaborations with Ms. Scott came as somewhat of a surprise to her; she told me, “I’ve been hearing that Luther has been waiting for a position like mine,” and this high-volume demand makes it clear that our campus is eager to take advantage of Ms. Scott’s wide range of skills and experience.
Ms. Scott came to Luther from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, where she served as the Vice President of Student Engagement and Success. She has worked at a variety of institutions, including three liberal arts colleges, and has become a seasoned administrator. In her twenty years of professional diversity and inclusion work, she has connected with a wide variety of communities and organizations, and has familiarized herself with a breath of social justice issues. She even visited Luther several years ago to do an external review of diversity at Luther. To these experiences, she said, “I like to think of myself as an activist administrator. Administration is an art form that needs innovation and creativity.” In her work at Luther, she hopes to create, “a more seamless experience for students,” so that all students may, “move across campus and experience service and response despite what office they are talking to.”
While Ms. Scott’s new position covers a lot of ground, she is particularly excited to work with the Diversity Council, the Academic Dean to diversify faculty, and with our new Vice President for Communications and Marketing to address the questions, “How do we convince someone to come here and stay here?”, and, “how do we tell the Luther story in a compelling way?” For her, part of telling this story is in the answer to the question, “what is in the way of becoming a more diverse institution?” and then doing the “requisite soul searching,” to find our answer. These questions and possible answers are some of the things Ms. Scott is most excited for in this position. She noted how the creativity and innovation present in diversity work is so exciting, and the path to true equity and inclusion happens when we make diversity and inclusion a priority. To Ms. Scott, equity means: “There is one door, not a myriad. All students should be able to have full access to institutional resources. There should be no gap in opportunity based on gender, race, sexual identity, religion, or any other identity. Equity should be moved from the margins to the center, to the core of importance.”
I am sure many of you are aware of the conversations on our campus about equity, inclusion, and diversity. Ms. Scott and her new position are a welcome step in what is hopefully the right direction to address such issues and have such conversations. She is looking forward to, “moving the needle,” towards equitable progress. We at the Diversity Center extend our warmest welcome to Lisa, and look forward to the opportunity to work with and learn from her.