For two years, the Southwestern University Alumni Association has discussed the rich fabric of experiences and cultures within its alumni community and how it can place additional emphasis on celebrating the diversity of its members. With this, the Alumni Council (the officer board for the Alumni Association) developed a new leadership position on the Alumni Council, titled the “Diversity and Inclusion Chair.” In April 2016, Paige Duggins ’14 and Kamna Tripathi ’13 were elected to co-chair this role.

Tripathi and Duggins began their work by reaching out to resources on Southwestern’s campus. They met with faculty and staff, including Terri Johnson, Assistant Dean for Student Multicultural Affairs, and students from the Coalition for Diversity and Social Justice. From these conversations, Tripathi and Duggins brought ideas back to the Alumni Council on how to best move forward. The first task for the 15-member Alumni Council was to develop a Statement of Diversity and Inclusion.

Members of the Alumni Council outlined five specific reasons for the development of a Statement of Diversity and Inclusion:

  • The Statement would provide the Alumni Association members “clear eyes” when developing its future work.

  • The preparation and communication of the Statement emphasizes the importance of Diversity and Inclusion.

  • The development of the Statement is in response to direct feedback from Southwestern alumni.

  • Our student population and hence our alumni association is becoming more diverse and they recognize that change.

  • Diversity and Inclusion makes Southwestern a stronger institution.

In January 2017, the Alumni Council provided the final version to other alumni volunteers at the Volunteer Leadership Summit. The Statement reads:

The Southwestern University Alumni Association affirms its commitment to Southwestern’s Core Values, among them fostering diverse perspectives, respecting the worth and dignity of persons, and encouraging activism in the pursuit of justice and the common good. In engaging in its mission of promoting the welfare of the University, the Association recognizes the importance of inclusion and diversity in fostering a stronger Southwestern community. 

We understand diversity in the broadest sense, embracing differences in race and ethnicity, culture, religious and spiritual beliefs, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ability, age, socio-economic class, thought and perspective, language, geography, and background. Accordingly, the Association is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion within the institution and throughout our alumni networks to promote the development of more respectful relationships among our community, more productive and effective citizens in our ever-changing world, and a more just society.

Also in January, the Alumni Council closed its Alumni Survey, gathering data from members of the alumni community on their experiences as students and alumni. Several questions were geared towards gathering information from alumni from historically underrepresented groups. Nearly 900 alumni responded to these questions. The Alumni Council continues its review of the data and will share detailed results later this summer.

Throughout the coming year, the Alumni Association will share ways for you to engage in its Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, both with students and fellow alumni. If you have questions or want to get involved with the planning, please email