Our Sit-Down with President Grigsby, Part II: Diversity


Photo courtesy of lvb.com.

Last week, we ran the first of three segments from my sit-down interview with President Grigsby. Continuing on to part two, this week’s segment focuses on issues the College is facing concerning diversity on campus. 

President Grigsby’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

What is Moravian doing in response to the BLM movement and helping the College be more inclusive?

We’ve hired two people in our DEI office. We welcome Dr. Daisy Purdy and Dr. Nicholas Creary to our community. 

We were originally searching for one person, but we decided there was more than enough work. So we found the budgetary money to support two people in that. They hit the ground running and divided up the duties. 

The board approved a diversity action plan last December. Nick and Daisy are enacting that plan over the course of this coming academic year. We have a number of goals, including a diversity recruitment plan for a more diverse student body. 

Over the last eight years we have been focused on diversity as an issue and have had success both in the faculty and staff ranks of having more diverse faculty and staff and a more diverse student body than we had eight years ago. It’s not good enough yet. We still need to do more work getting more diversity in our counseling area, but we know that and are actively trying to find people who are of a diverse nature to be a part of our Counseling Center. 

One of the pillars of our Strategic Plan is [called] “Together Toward Equity.” Nick, Daisy, and other people are working on what those initiatives are. 

Is there a date set for when this Strategic Plan will be officially sent out to the Moravian College community?

The board has to vote on the Strategic Plan at the April board meeting, so we’re hopeful that we’ll have it done by that point. We’re using a nationally recognized strategic planning group that works with colleges just like us around the nation.

We are on track for April approval, but if we don’t hit that deadline and we don’t have the Strategic Plan set up then the board will approve it in August. But April is what we’re shooting for right now. 

Who gets to develop and agree upon the pillars and initiatives that will be included in the Strategic Plan?

Pillar teams are working on it, and we have invited people in. Students, faculty, and staff are also working on the pillars and the initiatives in those pillars. They make recommendations to the Strategic Planning Committee and to myself, and eventually we get to a point that we agree that this is a strategic plan and present it to the board, [whose] job it is to approve the plan. It’s the board of trustees’ job next to overseeing the President.

Some students feel conflicted on your statement regarding the Capital riots, saying that you weren’t hard enough on condemning the insurrection and instead centered the email on “respecting everyone’s opinion.” Do you have any comments on this?

This is always the problem when you have to send out comments. I think everybody was in shock while we were watching [the riots]  and we felt like we had to [make a statement]. The cabinet met at around 5 o’clock as the riot was happening. You know, I think I sat like everybody else just dumbfounded that I couldn’t imagine this was actually occurring in our country. 

We decided that we were going to be putting out a statement. When we do that, we do that communally. [When] it comes out I’m responsible for anything that’s said, but we have everybody on the cabinet [contribute to the statement]. Daisy and Nick were on staff at that time and we felt that we had taken a stance by signing up with Braver Angels, which is about how to have heavy conversations in college environments and that we have to start showing how we can disagree and do so from a collegiate standpoint. So we referenced that we had done that.

 I think you could have made a harder, more abrupt statement, a statement more against what had occurred, but at the time we were still processing what was happening.

Lots of colleges came out with statements very similar to ours, and then colleges that didn’t put out statements until two or three days later came out with much harsher statements. There’s really no good answer to when you should put out a statement. 

Lots of people were discussing [the College’s statement regarding the Capital riot] in particular because, since the shooting at Virginia Tech years ago, it’s been recommended that campuses respond immediately when they feel they need to put out a statement. Now, people are saying, well, maybe it’s better to wait a little bit longer and see what the evidence is and how you’re going to  talk about it. 

It’s horrible and I’m still reeling that I can’t believe this occurred and people tried to overturn an election that was justified and had been justified throughout the courts. 

You don’t even realize you’re in shock until later, but this is a process of, “this can’t really be happening.” But it is.