SARASOTA, Fla. (Sept. 12, 2019) – The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee has created a committee to engage more fully with the diverse community it serves and assist more students of color in achieving their academic goals.
Called EMBRACE, the committee is comprised of community and educational leaders from Manatee and Sarasota counties, including Rachel Shelley, principal of Emma E. Booker High School in Sarasota; Brandon Johnson, principal of North Port High School; Carolyn Griffin, director of strategic impact, United Way Suncoast; Catrese Estes, vice president of program services, Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County and Suzanne W. Burke, director of college career and life readiness, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.
The committee is led by USF Sarasota-Manatee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Corey L. Posey. It met for the first time on Friday, Sept. 6, led by Posey and USFSM Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, PhD.
The committee’s goal is to develop recommendations on how the campus can strengthen ties with underrepresented communities in Sarasota and Manatee and increase enrollment of students from those communities.
“Dr. Holbrook and I thought that it was really important that we share the direction that our university wanted to go in,” Posey told the group, which met at USFSM’s Selby Auditorium. “We didn’t invite you just because we’re low in certain areas and we need black and brown faces on our campus. We need your feedback to spark change.
“We need diversity of experience in our student body so that we can all learn from one another, so that when our students do enter the workforce, working with other people, they will know they’ve had similar conversations before and are comfortable with them.”
After an overview, Posey asked committee members to form two work groups, the College and Career Readiness group and the Community Impact group, to begin to strategize and develop recommendations in the coming months.
“Essentially there will be two arms of the same committee looking to tackle things we identify as barriers in the community,” he said.
Looking ahead, Posey said he envisioned:
- More diversity-focused discussions among students and faculty at USFSM
- More campus events to foster dialogue with local communities, including at the annual USFSM Carnival
- A diversity-themed speaker series
- Greater outreach and support of minoritized populations at local high schools through initiatives such as the Gamma Xi Boule Journey to Success program
- The formation of a “Legacy Builder” scholarship to support minority students at USFSM
He added that he hoped to establish a long-term partnership with local communities to create a pipeline of underrepresented students to USFSM.
“In the end, USFSM wants to do its part in strengthening communities through education,” he said. “This meeting was a strong first step.”
For more about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit usfsm.edu.