Diversity at Western Carolina University is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. It includes race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, age, national origin, geography, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language and linguistic differences, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values. At WCU, we believe that embracing and encouraging diversity in this all-inclusive form enriches our academic community and provides our students with the kind of culturally responsive education that will make them better people, better citizens, and better leaders.
WCU's Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Programs aspires to strengthen diversity as an integral component of academic excellence within WCU and, in the process, to establish the university as a leader within North Carolina in preparing its students for success in a culturally and racially diverse society.
The office is led by Chief Diversity Officer Ricardo Nazario-Colon, who serves as the campus's primary facilitator for cross-divisional diversity initiatives.
Nazario-Colon's appointment in June of 2016 fulfills initiatives in the university’s “2020 Vision” strategic plan calling for increasing the diversity of the student body and improving the diversity among faculty and staff.
Nazario-Colon previously served as director of the Office of Diversity Programs at Western Kentucky University and as director of student activities, inclusion, and leadership at Morehead State University.
The office is responsible for devising and implementing a range of programs and policies to promote diversity of WCU.
It sets out to accomplish this by:
The Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity also strives to promote and facilitate constructive, respectful conversations about diversity on campus. In February 2017, in honor of Black History Month, the office focused on collecting and sharing the unique collection of experiences of students of color. Recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15, 2017, the office captured the unique experiences of some of WCU's Latinx students. In March, in honor of our 2017-2018 Campus Theme of "Cherokee" WCU's Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Programs continued the conversation with Cherokee Culture as part of our Diversity Dialogues series.