$1 Million Donated for Diversity

It was announced at Convocation that Dianne C. Shumaker has donated $1 million to William Jewell College to be used for diversity and inclusion scholarships. This is not the first time Shumaker has donated a large amount of money to Jewell. She was one of the lead contributors to the Shumaker sorority complex, which was named after her. She also contributed to the Center for Justice and Sustainability.

Shumaker graduated from Jewell in 1966 with a B.S. in elementary education. During her time here, she participated in College Union Activities Committee, Religious Focus Week Committee, Tatler Revue, Women’s Recreation Association, Young Women’s Auxiliary and Zeta Tau Alpha. She was a member of the Jewell board of trustees from 2008 until May 2017. She is currently a trustee of the Shumaker Family Foundation.

“She has been very generous to the College and has done many other wonderful things. Most of the projects we’ve had in the last few years that donors have invested in, she has made major contributions to. She has been one of our largest and most active donors. She believes very strongly in students and the student experience,” said Clark Morris, Vice President for Advancement.

Diversity, according to the Office of Financial Aid, is a very generic term that includes racial and ethnic difference as well as various socioeconomic backgrounds. Shumaker’s donation will go toward needs-based scholarships in an effort to ensure that everyone, especially students from underrepresented groups, has the chance to attend Jewell. The Cardinal Grant is currently the primary and the largest needs-based grant the College offers. It was recently renamed the Jewell Access Grant.  

“We want to be a campus who is open and available to people from all backgrounds. [The Jewell Access Grant] raises the attention of our donors that we have students who have need and we want [our donors] to help us to do that. It also alerts the world that this is a welcoming place. We want to publicize it so people can step up and believe that they might actually afford [going to school here],” said Morris.

Daniel Holt, Director of Financial Aid, gave further information on how the donation will be used.

“The $1 million gift is a significant gift for the College that will benefit a great number of students, but the overall impact of just how many students it will impact is yet to be determined. This gift will allow us to better fuel efforts to help enrollment thrive by allowing access to those that may not otherwise be able to afford a college education,” said Holt.

Granting this scholarship will be based on demonstrated financial need.

“I think that in underrepresented populations, there is a barrier that where they think that they won’t be able to afford private higher education, especially at a place like Jewell that is perceived as high quality and for some it seems like it’s a big sticker price. I believe that speaking to diverse populations and saying that we have access scholarships and we have donors that have developed these to make sure that regardless of your needs you can afford Jewell and that you can have that experience. I think this will increase diversity,”  said Morris.

Jewell has recently been making efforts to increase diversity on campus. A new Diversity and Inclusion faculty group is working to change the conversation around inclusion on campus. The group designed a new core curriculum course that is now required for all first-years called Identity and Society.

“It is about being able to dialogue and to know how to dialogue even with people who even may see the world differently than you and be able to interact with them. It will introduce [students] to some sort of diversity. Diversity has a lot of dimensions. It can be racial and ethnic but it can also include sexual orientation, socio-economic status, rural and urban perspectives. It is brought by the depth of the student experience,” said Dr. Lori Wetmore, professor of chemistry and a member of Diversity and Inclusion faculty.

The current course will be assessed and altered depending on outcomes.

Wetmore stressed the importance of changing up the homogenous environment.

“We are also trying to increase the diversity within faculty and the diversity of the student body and these two things work hand in hand. If a student doesn’t see someone that looks like them, it makes it more difficult for them to stay here, even if we get them here. If we increase the diversity of the population, we have to make sure that they find a home here and feel that they’re able to express that diversity on campus. If [students at Jewell] have a class and a university experience that exposes [them] to diversity, that could be a reset on what they’re going to call normal. It challenges them and makes them think about the way they look at the world. It brings some breadth and some depth. Changing policy is the only way to end systemic racism. If the students don’t have depth and breadth, how are they going to be good policy makers,” said Wetmore.

Photo by Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe.

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