Dear Colleagues and Friends of DACC:
Anyone who knows Danville and Vermilion County can tell you that DACC holds a special place in the hearts and minds of local residents. Though smaller than most Illinois colleges, DACC is a giant in our community and an enduring source of pride among the 90,000 residents we serve.
Mary Miller founded this College 75 years ago as an embodiment of the democratic principles of college that would offer “a chance for all.” DACC’s mission, vision, and values all articulate our commitment to what may well be called “democracy’s college.”
But as the Missourians might say, “Don’t tell me. Show me.”
One way that DACC is paying more than just lip service to the principles of equity, inclusion, and diversity is in the practice of hiring vendors. The Board of Trustees at DACC has put its money where its mouth is by establishing a purchasing policy that gives an unprecedented advantage to local businesses owned by minorities, women, or disabled people through the Business Enterprise Program.
The Board has also undergone a significant change in its own racial makeup over the past two years. The process began on Sept. 10, 2018, when the Board appointed Ms. Tracy Cherry to fill an unexpired term. Ms. Cherry, who’s the principal at Danville High School, is the first African-American to serve as a DACC Trustee.
A year later, the public elected Ms. Cherry to a six-year term. A year after that, Ms. Sandra Finch became the Board’s second African-American member when the public elected her to a term that will run through 2027.
While the Board is making great strides in becoming more representative of the community we serve, the College administration, faculty, and staff have a great deal more work to do to bring greater diversity to the workforce and among the student body. The 2021 appointment of Dr. Dwight A. Lucas II as DACC’s chief diversity officer and a member of the president’s cabinet is a hopeful sign that the College will move in a direction to build greater inclusion.
As a 14-year faculty member and professor of graphic arts, Dr. Lucas is providing guidance to the Cabinet on strategies for recruiting more students of color, for building a workforce that more accurately reflects regional diversity, and for increasing the College’s outreach to underrepresented segments of the population.
Dr. Lucas is approaching this leadership role from the perspective of an educator—that is, to advance evidence-based practices that show opportunities for institutional or organizational change related to social justice and equity. To that end, he is working with several divisions, administrators, students, and community members to assess and discuss strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results of the changing college climate and implemented initiatives.
Dr. Lucas is also coordinating diversity-oriented programs and initiatives, including chairing the Access, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee, which consists of about a dozen community leaders and meets every other month. One of his first achievements has been to help his Cabinet colleagues and others come to understand a comprehensive definition of diversity.
I applaud the progress that Dr. Lucas has made and support his endeavoring to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at DACC. While we recognize that we have a great deal of work to do, I am confident that Dr. Lucas is helping us chart a successful path.
Dr. Stephen Nacco