KOKOMO, Ind. — As the United States grappled with racial tension during the spring and summer, spurred by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers during an arrest, Doug Hall wrestled with his own feelings about Floyd, and other black people who have been victims of injustice.
“I had a mix of emotions, ranging from frustration, shock, elevated concern, and a sense of heaviness for the heart of individuals around all that had transpired,” said Hall, a 2001 Indiana University Kokomo graduate.
As an adjunct instructor in communications and assistant director of career and professional development at High Point University, North Carolina, he was moved by a statement by his university president, Nido Qubein published, sharing his thoughts on racism.
An email Hall sent Qubein, thanking him for that statement, led to an unexpected career path.
“That conversation turned into multiple conversations, which turned into an opportunity to lead diversity efforts on our campus,” Hall said. “It’s a new job, and I’m the first to assume this role. It’s an exciting challenge.”
August 1, Hall, who grew up in Peru, began his new role as assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion. It’s a key responsibility, in a crucial time, in which people seem to be more aware of racial injustice, and perhaps more willing to listen and learn. Understanding why diversity and inclusion matter is an important part of higher education.
“We’re starting to see our world change in such a way, that we would do our students a disservice if we did not educate them for it,” he said. “We have to equip them for where they go next, so they can avoid microaggressions, bias, aspects of racism, and other -isms that impact how we work together.
“We can work hard to do our part to assure our students have had the opportunity to know and understand what diversity and inclusion it is about, and how can be applicable to where they are, or where they will be, when they leave High Point University.”
His goal since earning his bachelor’s degree has always been to work in higher education, helping students succeed — following in the footsteps of his own mentors at IU Kokomo. He arrived as a transfer student, unsure of what he wanted to do with his life.
People like Catherine Barnes, who was his academic advisor, Sarah Sarber, former dean of students who is now chief of staff, and Gerry Stroman, a former advisor who retired as chief of staff, and believed in him and encouraged him to consider student affairs as a career.
“I cut my teeth in student affairs working for Sarah Sarber and Cathy Barnes,” he said, adding that a career information session with Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke, a faculty member in communications at the time, convinced him to major in that field.
“Seeing myself in this job, and thinking of all of their mentorship along the way, it’s really phenomenal to describe, as far as where I am today,” Hall said. “I am grateful for the opportunity.”
He’s been at High Point for eight years, starting as starting as a student success coach. While working towards a Ph.D. in educational management from Hampton University, he was an adjunct instructor in its School of Communications, and also was a career advisor, and later became assistant director of career and professional development.