By Brandon Brown
Youngstown State University welcomed Carol Bennett to campus as the new assistant provost for diversity and inclusion on Oct. 16.
As Bennett is adjusting to working at the university, she said she is beginning to notice problems pertaining to diversity at YSU.
“There is a lack of diverse groups on campus, and it is concerning for the institution,” Bennett said.
She said she will be looking at why students of diverse backgrounds choose to attend other schools, as YSU might not be offering something they are looking for.
“We want to be the No. 1 college choice based on diversity and student inclusion,” Bennett said.
Bennett came to YSU with a 60-day plan to establish her full strategic diversity plan. She is currently in the process of assembling a staff so she can better operate within the university.
An extended plan for increasing diversity at the university means creating partnerships, examining other local diverse groups and implementing operational changes to diverse groups on campus.
Bennett previously served as assistant dean and director of diversity and inclusion at Truman State University in Missouri.
She has a bachelor’s degree in Africana studies from Martin University and a master’s degree in African American studies from Indiana University. She is also completing a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from the University of Missouri.
Bennett said her background in African American studies and history prepare her for her role at the university. She feels knowing histories of diverse groups is important to solving issues that diverse groups face.
She has traveled the country and the world, living overseas in Germany for several years and then living stateside in Indiana, Colorado, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri and now Youngstown, Ohio.
“Living in so many places, I have experienced so many different communities,” Bennett said. “Rural, urban, international, I’ve met so many people.”
Bennett’s travels and studies have prepared her for this newly created role at YSU.
“I jokingly say in graduate school I probably lived in a more diverse place than the United Nations,” Bennett said. “It gave me good experience to get to know people’s cultures and understand what makes us different and what can bring us together.”
She has always operated in administrative roles at other universities, moving from secretary, to clinical support, to student mentor and liaison and now to her position in the Division of Multicultural Affairs.
“My passion is students,” Bennett said. “When we talk about diversity and inclusion, we are talking about everyone because everyone is diverse, whether they know it or not.”
Bennett will conduct meetings with faculty, students and community members to see what their concerns are regarding diversity on campus.
Her specific plans include a student center for diversity and inclusion, a gender and sexuality center, an indigenous American center and artwork created by students of all backgrounds and with different artistic styles incorporated into campus buildings.
“I think visual representation is everything. Whether you see visual representation on the walls through art or photos or through events the university holds or just simply through the student body,” Bennett said.