Q&A: Meet the new director of diversity and inclusion program

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As part of the university’s continued efforts to promote “diversity, equity and inclusivity” Aisha Torrey-Sawyer has been named the Director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at TCU.

TCU 360 recently sat down with Torrey-Sawyer to talk about her plans for TCU and how her past experiences helped shape her outlook on life.

  • Where are you from and where did you go to school?

I am originally from Seattle, Washington. I went to Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi and then went back to Seattle University for my masters in student development administration and education.

  • Why did you decide to work at TCU?

I have worked at TCU for 16 years! I didn’t know much about TCU, but I knew I wanted to move south for the sun! TCU was a great opportunity for me to start in admissions coming from another state.

  • What was your first position at TCU?

When I first came to TCU I worked as an admissions counselor for two years. I then moved on the be the Assistant Director for the Neeley Academic Advising Center. I moved on to become the Director of the Neeley Academic Advising Center. I have now been the diversity and inclusion director of Student Affairs since February 19.

  • What experience do you have working with diversity and inclusion?

Over the last year, I have been co-chair of diversity, equity inclusion committee. There are a total of 20 people in the committee, which is split up into smaller groups. They all, however, are collectively working on a diversity strategic plan for the university. Even in my previous positions though, I have always been included in programming and assistance related to diversity and inclusion.

  • What is your goal for the diversity and inclusion program?

My goal is to bring us closer to making TCU into a world-class, values-centered university. Diversity, equity and inclusion are keys to TCU’s academic success. I am always searching for ways to transform us into a university where everyone feels valued and included! We are always searching for how we can re-define what a multicultural university is. We want to make sure that all of our students have cultural competencies to be leaders when they graduate.

  • How do you think that the program will affect the TCU culture? 

Each college will have their own faculty diversity advocate and their job will be to look at the structure of the diversity within their school. We are also trying to implement a program for a post-doctoral fellows opportunity. We are still in the process of creating this, but we want to give graduate students the chance to do post-doctoral research related to diversity.

We are also implementing a campus community response team. This team gives opportunities for students, faculty and staff to report experiences of bias and discrimination on campus. All of the complaints will be reviewed and directed to the appropriate departments (Title IX, Student Affairs, Campus Life, etc.)

  • What is the first step the program is taking?

The first step I am taking in my new position is meeting with different departments at TCU. I already met with Dr. Mark Kamimura, the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, human resources and the admissions office, but there will be many more meetings before the semester ends. However, my number one goal is to establish a diversity and inclusion website for the university. I want to work with HR and other departments to determine appropriate training needs that people want and advertise that on the website.

  • What is your favorite part about working at TCU?

My favorite part of working at TCU has been the relationships that I have established over the years. I have been able to work with some great minds, forward thinkers, and people with great passion about TCU. It has really been beneficial for me and it’s been a great opportunity to collaborate with people who want the best for TCU.