The faculty of the English Department at the University of Mississippi recognizes the importance of diversity to the ongoing success and future growth of the department and university. Diversity represents the many salient experiences that mark human difference, and may include: race, national origin, economic background, sexual orientation, gender expression and characteristics, and disabilities. A diverse faculty, staff, and student body are integral to preparing our students for a global society, as they promote cross-cultural understanding through the creation and maintenance of an open learning environment, both in the classroom and in the broader community, that fosters learning, promotes cooperation, collaboration, and tolerance, and can potentially dispel stereotypes. In these ways, diversity is key to the department’s mission to enrich students’ understanding of literature, engage them in the cultural debate, develop crucial skills in analytical thinking, and prepare them for an increasingly diverse contemporary workplace.
Even more salient to the university, however, are the unanticipated benefits of diversity. Including diverse members of the campus community in conversations about policy, scholarship, teaching, learning, service, and campus life may have unanticipated consequences by posing unexpected questions and inviting different conclusions. It is diversity’s potential to surprise, to disrupt, to rethink and reshape that makes it so essential to the mission of the university. For these reasons, the department is committed to fostering a diverse teaching, learning, and work environment at the University of Mississippi.
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Moreover, in light of recent incidents of racial and sexual intolerance on our campus, the department wishes to express support for the LGBTQ and African American members of our campus community. We wish to publicly recognize that both groups make essential contributions to the functioning of our university and our department as educators, staff, and students. Together, African Americans, LGBTQ people, and their allies advance our goals of academic excellence, creating successful and enriching learning environments where all campus members thrive. Most importantly, the members of these communities are our colleagues, mentors, and friends, and we are grateful for their presence at the University of Mississippi.