Delaware Valley College embraces diversity

May 26, 2011

By Annmarie Ely

In the wake of hosting a May 25 conference on diversity, Delaware Valley College has renewed its standing commitment to tolerance, inclusion and respect for all.

“Embracing diversity is of utmost importance to the college,” said Vice President of Student Affairs John Brown.  “As the college becomes more diverse and understands many points of views, we become a stronger institution.”

Brown said the efforts he’s seen on campus have been encouraging. Students have also been encouraged by the college’s many programs to foster understanding and togetherness.

The 2012 Class President, Dan Rivera, is an openly gay student who considers DelVal a safe community that welcomes all. He has been class president since his freshman year and said his experience at DelVal has been a positive one.

“Our school is a place that takes diversity and inclusion as a serious matter,”  he said. “We have no tolerance for bias or hate against any people; however we cannot control the few individuals who make bad decisions and commit bias incidents, but we can teach them to become better people.”

Maintaining a warm, caring community that is inclusive for all people is part of the college’s strategic plan and a goal that is of personal importance to the college president.


President Joseph S. Brosnan lived in a Manhattan apartment before coming to the college in 2007. He said that as a group, the tenants in his building were extremely diverse.

“There were mixes and matches of all kinds,” Dr. Brosnan said. “We celebrated holidays together, did our laundry together.  We got to know each other and to recognize each other as people. We embraced differences and saw them as something that strengthened our community.”

He said to make that kind of mutual respect possible, people have to be exposed to diversity.

“Not all of us are,” said Dr. Brosnan.

That’s why at DelVal he’s working to make sure, as part of their education, students learn how to appreciate and respect differences. He wants to make sure students, faculty and staff at DelVal respect, appreciate and welcome everyone. For that reason, the college has an assortment of programs and practices that teach these values.

Among them are:

  • A board-approved core value statement saying  the college respects all people and will treat everyone with care and dignity
  • A Race, Culture and Diversity Committee: formed by Dr. Brosnan to help oversee the process of creating a welcoming, safe community
  • A Bias Incident Response Team: If there is an incident of hate or intolerance this team helps the college deal with it. The team includes faculty, students, administrators and staff who meet with Student Affairs to find out why incidents are happening, examine trends and recommend consequences for students who commit acts of bias or hate
  • A Stop the Hate program: a nationally recognized program that trains faculty, students and staff in inclusion and permits them to train others. DelVal has 22 certified Stop the Hate trainers who go out and do trainings on campus. The program will continue to unfold for years to come. Dr. Audrey Ervin, a counseling psychology professor, said the program is specifically designed to “impact effective, systemic, campus change.”
  • GLOW: a student club that fosters understanding and cooperation between students of all sexual orientations and gender identities. According to a member, in October 2010 the club organized a group of more than 200 students from across campus to wear purple to remember the suicides of gay teens. GLOW also organized a drag show and a day of silence. All three events were well received on campus, according to the club
  • Hillel: campus club that explores Jewish culture
  • Students for Diversity:  a club dedicated to the acceptance, understanding and recognition of diversity on campus
  • A Minority Relations Council: includes students from Hillel, Students for Diversity and GLOW; The council keeps Student Government Board updated about events, issues and concerns
  • Faculty with expertise in diversity issues
  • “We are proud of our programs, proud of our students, proud of our faculty and proud of the environment we have created here,” said Dr. Brosnan. “We do everything possible to make the student experience memorable and worthy.”