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All Lakeland Constituencies Need a Seat at the Table

The following remarks were delivered by LFA President Tobin F. Terry at the March 2, 2023 meeting of the Lakeland Board of Trustees. At the previous meeting, three trustees were appointed to the trustee-only committee to review diversity, equity, and inclusion/inclusivity language in Lakeland’s plans and policies. The motion to form that committee was approved in the September 1, 2022 board meeting. 

Chairperson Rispoli, Board of Trustees, President Beverage. I am Tobin Terry, president of the Lakeland Faculty Association.

As you probably guessed, I am here to advocate for the inclusion of college students, staff, and faculty on the committee charged with reviewing the words equity, diversity, and inclusion in college documents. As a member of this community, I believe that we have valuable insight to help in shaping the policies that affect us directly.

Many of you likely recall that inclusion, equity, and diversity are, by those terms, crucial to our accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, our institutional accrediting body. 

Beyond that, a core component of the Higher Learning Commission’s Criterion 5A for accreditation requires that, quote, “Shared governance at the institution engages its internal constituencies—including its governing board, administration, faculty, staff and students—through planning, policies and procedures.”

Also, “The institution’s administration ensures that faculty and, when appropriate, staff and students are involved in setting academic requirements, policy and processes through effective collaborative structures.”

For our accreditation, and perhaps more important, for our community, we must work together. 

To ensure that the committee’s recommendations are truly reflective of the entire Lakeland community’s needs and values, it is important that the committee includes a broad range of voices, including those of students, staff, administration, and faculty.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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