New VP hopes to streamline Hamline’s focus on equity, inclusion, diversity

Dr. David L. Everett Photo courtesy of Hamline

Dr. David L. Everett welcomes a rewarding challenge as associate vice president for inclusive excellence at Hamline University. In the newly created position, he works with faculty, staff and students across the institute’s spectrum to sustain and improve what he describes as an emphasis on, among other characteristics, “a powerful platform to work towards equity, inclusion and diversity across the institution and within the community.”

The Twin Cities’ region has been criticized as sorely lacking in diversity at its educational institutions, but Everett feels he’s not coming in to fix a system that isn’t working. To the contrary, he’s focused on strengthening a model that already honors cultural differences.

“There were a number of moving parts in certain areas of the university that were doing diversity initiatives, per se. So, how do we streamline all those efforts so it becomes more programmatic in a consolidated way, and not having dispersed efforts with energy kind of scattered across the campus?” he asked. “Pool all those efforts together.”

After all, centrally focused, concentrated endeavors tend to yield more effective results, usually in less time. At the outset, one of the first objectives he plans to accomplish is “getting a clear lay of the land, assessing what the moving parts have been doing and how successfully. Then, also, try to understand what has been kind of the history behind them. What led to their formation? What were some of the goals they started out with?”

A priority, he added, is learning to what extent they’ve already connected with one another. “How successful they’ve been in collaborating — not just [individually], but in working with each other. And then try to figure out how does that fit with the all the institutional needs.

“Such as what that would mean for, let’s say, changing or understanding experiences, faculty, staff and student experiences on the campus. So, what does that look like when the student’s in the classroom? When staff are working in the building in various areas? When faculty are working together to develop curriculum, and all those kinds of things?

“How does that work together in an integrated way?” he continued. “To talk about equity, to talk about inclusion, to talk about diversity in terms of having an institution where everybody can come here and thrive?”

Everett estimates that over the past five years, Hamline’s rate of minority inclusion has reached 20 percent. Yet, he acknowledges that, while the number is encouraging, divisions separate students coming from culturally different backgrounds, with the very nature of diversity proving to be a challenge.

“One of the obvious opportunities for us as an institution,” he said, “is to think about how we can dismantle some of those boundaries and be more focused around seeing that there’s synergy between and amongst the groups.”

Before assuming this post, Everett worked for three years at the Minnesota Department of Human Services involved in the preparation, delivery and assessment of equity, inclusivity and diversity training programs. He also served as an assistant professor with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) from 2008-12, providing instruction in world religions, ethics, and race and culture. Additionally, he helped develop and implement MNSCU’s Access, Opportunity and Success program, which facilitates higher education access for underrepresented populations.

Everett, who earned his associate of arts degree from Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, holds a B.A. in business administration from Kentucky State University and a Hamline University mini-MBA certificate in public administration. He also received a master’s of divinity degree in leadership and his doctorate of philosophy in leadership from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

He has held teaching and diversity-related positions with Gustavus Adolphus College, the State of Minnesota IT Services Office, Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative in St. Paul, Luther Seminary, and the Minnesota National Guard. He is a certified federal mediator and a member of the National Academic Advising Association.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Everett to our community,” said Hamline President Dr. Fayneese Miller. “He has a proven record of effectiveness and advocacy on inclusion, equity and diversity issues. We have developed a national reputation as a leader in this area, and I know that Dr. Everett’s energy and drive will fuel us in the ongoing pursuit of educational equity.”

Everett echoed Miller’s sentiments. “I am pleased, honored and excited to join Hamline University. Hamline’s rich tradition and its continued emphasis on academic rigor, practical learning experiences and social justice provides a powerful platform to work towards equity, inclusion and diversity across the institution and within the community. I look forward to working with President Miller, other administrators, faculty, staff, students and stakeholders as we collectively strive to do all the good we can.”