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WPI’s Dr. Calvin Hill, Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity Programs
By Sasha Fastovskiy
America is a melting pot. History classes, T.V commercials, and mission statements all stress equality and diversity. Now while it’s fun and interesting to meet people of different backgrounds and beliefs when we’re older, it’s sometimes a tad more difficult and awkward for college students to identify with one another, especially when they are thrown together from all parts of the country and the world. Enter Dr, Calvin R. Hill, Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity Programs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Hill, the former Director of Minority Affairs, climbed to the top at WPI after his own experiences taught him what diversity should be. The graduate of Bethany College, with degrees from Emporia State and Washington, wasn’t all too comfortable at the predominately white schools where there was never really anyone who was able to profoundly serve his needs. “Faculty members are always the default connection to ‘different’ students in the classrooms. I was looking for someone I could relate to more closely than a faculty member,” says Hill. At WPI, there’s the opportunity for Hill to act as a mentor, with the ultimate goal of getting students interested and involved in diversity in academics.
“It’s really all about engaging the students. All students are eager to learn, so the hard part is asking yourself, ‘How do I engage them?’” Hill explains, “Students will be coming from more and more diverse backgrounds; we need to uniquely serve them.” Hill does a good job; not only does he teach at multiple schools ~ including WPI, Assumption, and Anna Maria ~ he often hosts end-of-the-year barbeques for students in order to help them find and become active in diversity programs outside of college. Inside the WPI doors, Hill helps host various affinity months and provides opportunities for the WPI students to work with middle and high-school students. He helps students with the entire immersion experience: “Students have to engage in it, they become more rounded; they become better people.”
To Hill, diversity is constantly being redefined. At WPI, 6% of the campus is “assorted,” with religion, sexuality, gender, ethnic, or racial differences. Multi-cultural interaction is Dr. Hill’s specialty, and he stresses that people need to be educated enough to fill the gaps in the future. “Diversity is all around,” says the Worcester resident, “it just depends on how you qualify it.”