Why dialogue matters
It “absolutely makes our team better” to have difficult conversations on topics such as redlining, implicit bias and the power of language, says UD admission leader Donnell Wiggins.
Every month, the University’s enrollment team gathers to listen, learn and reflect — a dialogue series they presented at the recent National Association for College Admission Counseling conference after being selected by professionals in their field.
“When we meet, we hear each other and we learn more about each other,” said Wiggins, associate vice president for strategic enrollment management and dean of admission. “The team dynamic and culture has changed. It has created more space for people to have a better perspective of different backgrounds and walks of life.”
“It has created more space for people to have a better perspective of different backgrounds and walks of life.”
The growth the admission representatives experience through the dialogue series also allows them to have better conversations with future Flyers and their families, said Wiggins and his conference co-presenters, Director of Student Engagement Kathleen Henderson and Director of Regional Recruitment Lindsey Freed.
“As an institution, we want to prepare global citizens to go out and learn, lead and serve,” Freed said. “As we recruit students, we want to be able to speak to that authentically, and this dialogue series helps us do just that.”
“As an institution, we want to prepare global citizens to go out and learn, lead and serve.”
The trio shared with a group of about 100 admission professionals that having the dialogue regularly is valuable in helping the institution reach its goal of becoming an anti-racist university, which means actively fighting against racism.
“Becoming an antiracist institution is everyone’s responsibility,” Henderson said. “It’s not just the diversity and inclusion office or the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center. It takes everyone to reach this goal — from the people who process student applications, to the people who greet families on campus to the admission reps on the road representing the university to the people who set processes and policies.”
Wiggins, Henderson and Freed said the dialogue series is gaining momentum, with team members volunteering to help lead sessions, and it has no end date.
They’ve seen a positive impact already. “And we’re just getting started,” Wiggins said.