Championing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at PSU

Like many businesses and organizations that looked inward amid the national reckoning on race and racism, Portland State’s School of Business sought to make stronger, sustained commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work. A year later, progress is being made. Most visibly, Evan T. Green was appointed to a new role as executive director of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI).

Green, who most recently served as assistant director of diversity and equity outreach for undergraduate business programs, says the new role gives this critical work “real teeth.”

“That philosophical or strategic aspect of incorporating DEI now gets a champion to hold us accountable,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to innovate and create new policies and activities that support students, faculty and staff in their journey into DEI.”

On everyone’s role in DEI work:

Green sees his role as a shepherd, working hand-in-hand with faculty and staff to ensure they’re bringing a DEI lens into their everyday work.

“This role should be the nexus or the start, but then it should start to bleed out from there,” he said. “I want to call people in, not out, and see how we can work together as a team to benefit students, faculty, staff and the larger Portland region and business community.”

On student support programs:

Green’s team includes Courtney Ewell, Olivia Bormann and Natalie Galvan:

  • Ewell, the Graduate Business Programs’ students of color mentor, focuses on initiatives to build community among graduate business students of color;
  • Olivia Bormann, the student inclusion coordinator, provides one-on-one support to graduate business students of color and leads Maverix, a new leadership program for LGBTQIA+ business students; and 
  • Natalie Galvan, the diversity, equity and inclusion specialist, is an advisor for ATMOS, which provides academic, career and community support to diverse and underrepresented undergraduate business students of color.

“Our biggest goal is to understand what students would feel is the most meaningful activities or meaningful initiatives we can put into place to support them and enhance their experience during their time at PSU, both in and out of the classroom,” Green said.

On graduating the next generation of business leaders: 

“If we’re going to see impact in Portland, we have to be the people who really model and graduate the next generation of professionals who are ready to function with a DEI mindset and lens in everything they do,” Green said. 

He says students will have that voice and understanding of why DEI is so important. 

“Yes, diversity of thought helps to create more revenue and spark creativity, but safe spaces for people to be great is equally important,” he said.

On faculty and curriculum:

Green says students are craving more inclusive pedagogy, classroom experiences and case studies.

“Faculty get that,” he said. “We have to understand where they’re at and provide training and experiences for them to build their awareness around DEI concepts so they can fundamentally feel comfortable with the concepts to then start making actual meaningful changes in the classroom.”

Green says another priority is hiring more diverse faculty β€” tenure-track faculty of color, not just adjunct instructors.

“Like anything, we often ask BIPOC folks to work longer hours for less money as well as do hidden labor,” he said. “We have to bring people in and pay them the competitive wages that they deserve and provide spaces for them to thrive.”

To connect with Green, email him at evgreen@pdx.edu.

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