Community Engagement

Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Senior Diversity Officer Kathy Littles

Saint Mary’s College Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CCIE) recently celebrated ten years of advancing pathways to equity and inclusion at all levels of the College community. The mission of CCIE encouraged all students, faculty, administrators, and staff from diverse backgrounds to expand their knowledge and awareness and to be open and welcoming of the unique differences in our community. CCIE expanded on its mission by hiring a full-time administrator with significant experience in diversity and inclusion, equity, and social justice. “I want to foster or help create a campus culture that engages all of us in dialoguing around diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. You can’t move the needle without conversation, collaboration, and then action,” said Kathy Littles ’94, PhD, SMC’s new associate provost for Faculty Affairs and senior diversity officer. One of the many goals of Littles’ and the CCIE was to work closely with faculty to increase and enhance opportunities for professional development and learning that is grounded in inclusive excellence, diversity, and equity by providing resources, workshops and offering ongoing faculty support both in and out of the classroom. Diversity practitioners helped others to look at the multiplicity of pluralities of what it means to be human, and how those things are brought to the table in terms of recruitment, retention, conversation, voice, who has access, and who doesn’t have access, and more.

Martin Luther King Jr Monument

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most prolific and recognized activists and civil rights leaders of the 20th Century. A Christian minister and theological scholar, King’s leadership and teachings about equality and social justice still impacts our lives, and the SMC community continued to be motivated by the tenets of his desire for a more just and humane world, as conferred in his historic speech, “I Have a Dream.” To commemorate his legacy and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Saint Mary’s Mission & Ministry Center invited the College community to an engaging and interactive event of shared prayer and reflection. Specifically, seven prayer and reflection opportunities were held at seven different locations on campus, at seven different times throughout the day to discuss seven specific quotes from King.

A student pushing a broom while smiling

Saint Mary’s student-athletes displayed their passion for sports and heart for service. Committed to the core principles of SMC’s Lasallian education, the athletic department represented by more than 40 student-athletes teamed-up with Grateful Gatherings, a local nonprofit organization that helps to furnish homes of families transitioning out of homelessness or crisis, including single mothers, foster children, and military veterans. Their specific project included fundraising and collecting donations in preparation for the improvements they would be making to the home, followed by the hands-on work and physical labor to furnish, remodel, landscape, and upgrade a foster home for six female teenagers. "We wanted to partner with a group that shares the same core values that Saint Mary's College shares and provide support for those in need. I'm thankful for all the help our department, student-athletes and fans were able to provide to this cause," said Mike Matoso, vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics. This marked the first year that the athletic department has worked with Grateful Gatherings, and it surely won’t be the last. Plans are already underway for next years' project.

President Donahue looking at papers on his desk

Students at Saint Mary’s were resilient during the unanticipated disruption that impacted our College community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The accompanying financial hardships in particular were daunting for many of our students, leaving them worried and deeply concerned about the opportunity to successfully continue their academic pursuits. To address this concern and relieve angst, the President’s Emergency Fund (PEF) was implemented to help students continue their education during this time of uncertainty. With heightened expediency, the College’s leadership team and the Board of Trustees approved the PEF and initially seeded the effort, which also welcomed gifts from other donors. “We don’t want any student to have their educational aspirations and goals interrupted due to financial challenges brought on as a result of COVID-19,” said Margaret Kasimatis, interim executive vice president. “We are committed to supporting our students and providing continuity in the delivery of our transformative education, and living our Lasallian Catholic mission.” The PEF was a safety net for students who otherwise would have to leave the College. “Receiving financial support from SMC has made it possible for me to not only attend but to remain in college without having crippling debt. It’s the only reason I’ve been able to attend Saint Mary’s at all, and it’s been life changing,” said Gustavo DePaiva ‘22.

A student holding a small plant in front of her face

Saint Mary’s was pleased to announce the launch of its Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP started with an inventory of the College's past greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and followed with a plan for reducing those emissions by a given time frame. The goal of SMC's CAP was to achieve the largest and most cost-effective GHG emissions reduction. Equally important was tackling climate change as not only a technological challenge, but as a serious moral, ethical, and social justice issue. The College’s Lasallian mission of serving marginalized communities required us to respond to how communities of color and low-income communities are adversely impacted as compared to their counterparts in housing, health, criminal justice, employment, and the environment. Climate change marked an even greater risk to vulnerable populations. The CAP looked at our institutional decisions regarding our environment, and likewise applied the racial equity lens throughout the planning and implementation process.