Open to All
Earlier this year, Marshall University was recognized as one of the most welcoming universities in the state of West Virginia for its initiatives on diversity and inclusion.
And a big reason for that recognition is because of people like Timothy Melvin.
After earning two degrees from Marshall University in the mid-2000s, Melvin returned to Huntington in July of 2008 as an academic lab manager in Family and Consumer Sciences before joining the Office of Academic Affairs as the Assessment Coordinator in 2015. But more recently, Melvin took on a new initiative, one that has begun to change the face of Marshall University’s campus and hopefully continue to make Marshall one of the most welcoming universities in the region.
In the Fall of 2017, Melvin teamed with Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert, Vice-President of Student Affairs Cedric Gathings and Dr. Kelli Johnson to form the President’s Commission on Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion, of which Melvin is currently co-director.
Since forming the commission last year, the group has already seen great progress in forming scholarships, creating events and finding new ways to assure that all students are welcome at Marshall University. For his work, Melvin even received the John Marshall Employee of the Year Award in 2018.
So what exactly is the commissions goal and what do they have planned for the future? We asked Timothy that and much more in this edition of Alumni Spotlight.
HERD HEAVEN: First off, tell us a little about you?
TIMOTHY MELVIN: I am from South Point, Ohio where I graduated from South Point High School in 2001. After graduating from Ohio University Southern in 2003, I came to Marshall to pursue an undergraduate degree in Sociology which I received in 2006. I also received a graduate degree in Adult Education from Marshall before attending Argosy University to receive an Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership. I am also about to begin my second year working on another graduate degree in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
HH: Talk a little about the diversity initiatives you have been put in charge of?
TM: As the co-director for the President’s Commission on Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion, we have worked with many internal and external organizations to provide diverse programs for the Marshall community. We have organized a State of African Americans in West Virginia Summit with HOPE CDC in Charleston regarding the West Side Revive Movement and issues of public health, workforce development, etc. Also, we have established the inaugural MLK Day of Service with Student Affairs, established a Unity Month on campus with weekly programming and keynote events, hosted an NAACP summit on retained minority faculty in West Virginia, and offered a $500 award to a faculty, staff, and student who was nominated and chosen for our inaugural Marshall University Diversity Award.
HH: You mention several events to help support these initiatives, what are some of those events?
TM: Recently, we established the Marshall University Rainbow Run to raise money for the Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Student Scholarship as a kick off to the City of Huntington’s Pride events. This fall we’ll be hosting the 2018 Homecoming Pride Gala to also raise money for the student scholarship, partnering with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission to create a West Virginia Higher Education Diversity Conference, implementing the LGBTQ+ Alumni Mentoring Program, and hosting Dr. Virginia Valian who is a distinguished professor of Psychology at Hunter College who will discuss her research and provide learning workshops on Gender Equity in higher education.
HH: Now, it’s not just Marshall that has been recognized for its work in these areas, but the city of Huntington as a whole. What does it mean to have the city working alongside the university to achieve these goals?
TM: The City of Huntington has gained exciting momentum in the past years in regard to diversity and inclusion initiatives. In my capacity as co-director of the commission, I serve on the mayor’s diversity committees which helped relaunch the Open to All campaign and planned the City of Huntington’s second annual pride picnic. The City of Huntington and its Open to All diversity campaign received the first-place award in the 50,000-and-under population category for the National League of Cities’ (NLC) City Cultural Diversity Awards Program for the tremendous strides taken on behalf of the city. Initiatives like these impact, not only citizens, but visitors and students who will grow personally and professionally by the resources provided to them by the city. I’m very proud to serve as a liaison between Marshall University and the City of Huntington as we create a community that is welcoming, respectful, and open to all.
HH: As part of that, Marshall University has been recognized nationally for its efforts in promoting openness and diversity, what does that mean to you for MU to lead the way in areas such as these?
TM: As I’ve said before, Marshall has always been on the forefront at establishing specialized programming tailored to underrepresented minorities, as they face the most challenges during their college experience. The President’s Commission on Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion is just another example of how the University strives to have a respectful and inclusive campus environment, while understanding that underrepresented minorities, from LGBTQ+ students to veterans, all face unique challenges that hinder student persistence. Recognizing these challenges, and honing in on innovative solutions, is something that the University does well to provide an engaging learning environment for all students.
HH: You recently received several awards from the university, including the 2017 John Marshall Employee of the Month Award and the 2018 John Marshall Employee of the Year award for your work here on campus. What does that mean to you to be recognized?
TM: It’s amazing to bring likeminded individuals together who are working for ways to better serve future sons and daughters and Marshall. I don’t feel that I alone won these awards because it really takes a campus community working together to pull off these initiatives. The scholarships that we create today will benefit students for years to come.
HH: One of the big ways to achieve your goal of helping students is through alumni support. How can interested alums get involved?
TM: My mission is to get the Diversity, Equality, and inclusion Student Scholarship endowed as quickly as possible so that we may begin providing financial help to students who have demonstrated contributions in diverse areas. To learn more about the scholarship, and how to donate, please visit https://www.marshall.edu/diversity/scholarship/.
HH: Finally, what are your big goals moving forward for the commission in the weeks, months and years ahead?
TM: Marshall University has always welcomed, embraced, and supported students of all backgrounds and walks of life. A goal of mine is to ensure that our campus is recognized as being respectful and open to everyone, while making sure that students who enroll have the proper guidance and resources necessary for them to graduate. It’s no secret that tuition is stressful, so we’re hoping to make it easier for students who have demonstrated those contributions to diversity to be compensated through our student scholarship. I would like to make it my goal to raise the entire $15,000 needed to begin offering the scholarship to students as soon as possible.
HH: Favorite Food?
TM: Anything with pasta.
HH: Favorite Music Genre/Artists?
TM: Anything from the 90s. It’s my jam!
HH: Favorite Movie?
TM: The Exorcist.
HH: First Car?
TM: 2001 Pontiac Grand Am
TM: Rollercoasters! During undergrad I worked in rides at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio from 2002 to 2006. I worked such classics as Mean Streak, Magnum XL-200 and Snake River Falls.
HH: Favorite Memory at Marshall?
PG: My senior year of undergrad was when Warner Bros. was on campus filming We Are Marshall. It was such an exciting time to be on campus!