Winthrop University: Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice Council
Contact Information
College of Visual and Performing Arts
133 McLaurin Hall
Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA
803/323-2333 (fax)

Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice Council

The College of Visual and Performing Arts is committed to providing a learning environment that is inclusive and respectful of diverse communities. As creators, we have the power to raise awareness, create meaningful change, and impact social justice—empowering students to become informed, responsible citizens. We are dedicated to being a community of creatives who promote and advance students independent of gender identity, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, political beliefs, age, and other social identities and life experiences. The ArtsWinthrop community encourages and appreciates expressions of different ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Listening to and respecting individual differences is critical in transforming a collection of diverse individuals into an inclusive, collaborative, and creative learning community, where we take responsibility for our actions and treat everyone with dignity.

The ArtsWinthrop Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice Council oversees the work of the department committees to ensure that the needs of the college’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and LGBTQ+ students are appropriately being met, including but not limited to developing a holistic and systematic approach to modifying curriculum (updating existing curriculum and creating new curriculum through an anti-racist, non-gender/orientation-biased, and critical pedagogical lens); ensuring all faculty and staff searches have appropriate diversity advocate representation; ensuring all faculty are participating in implicit bias training on a regular basis; and ensuring the college’s commitment to empowering students to become informed, responsible citizens with the potential to have a positive impact on our society.

Membership currently includes Deans Jeff Bellantoni and Wanda Ebright, and alumni Lustra Miller (Dance), Lia Newman (Fine Arts), Kevin Aoussou (Theatre), Catalina Olvera (Design), Lisa Knox (Music), and Philip Thomas (Arts Administration). The DEI department committees are charged to address issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice, and are responsible to the ArtsWinthrop Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice Council and Faculty Assembly for appropriate reports and recommendations concerning their activities.


Theatre and Dance DEI Committee

Members: The faculty of the department serves as committee-of-the-whole in supporting compliance with diversity standards and goals for all Theatre and Dance programs. Student representatives are Samantha Mathews (dance) and Sierra Kyhkynan (theatre).

The departmental D.E.I. Committee met twice in the Fall of 2020. A D.E.I. statement was created and published on the departmental website. Actions items for this academic year were identified and are included in the statement. Progress on these action items is articulated below:

Analysis of current curriculum has begun by faculty of both Theatre and Dance, with the explicit goal to decolonize our teaching of history, theory, choreography, design, directing, and performance. We are working to strengthen and integrate these principles into all areas and programs of the department. Curriculum action has been submitted to make THRT 442: African American Theatre an intensive writing course, and to be offered annually as a choice for all theatre concentrations to replace THRT 386: Theatre History and Literature II, since they cover the same time period.

A new course, THRT 215: Black Playwriting, has been proposed, to be offered in a theatre student’s freshman year. This course will be submitted as Global Studies course, and be offered as an option to THRT 210: Script Analysis. this course action responds to the student request, by not creating a separate new requirement, but by offering students a more racially diversified option to fulfill an existing requirement. In addition, the culminating performance built into this course will be a way to encourage more performances by artists of color in the department. Ideally, the playwriting aspects of the course will also reorient student relationships to dramatic literature.

Course Policy

All Dance technique classes have made changes in their syllabi to address language in the dress policy concerning hair and nails that follows safety protocols but removes discriminatory practice and language as well as gender specifics.


To increase representation in positions of leadership, an artist of color, Sidney Horton, was hired to direct the Spring 2021 musical- Hear our Voice: Shining a Light on Diversity in Musical Theatre, to celebrate the tenacity of those who contributed to cultural diversity in musical theatre.


A new adjunct was identified and hired to teach THRA 411: Auditions. Professor Tommy Coleman holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Temple University and a master’s degree in musical theatre performance from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow, Scotland. His professional career includes work with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Virginia Stage Company, The New Urban Theatre Project, and numerous film, television, and voiceover projects. His website can be accessed here.


Music DEI Committee

Members: L. Mark Lewis, Tomoko Deguchi (faculty); Shi'Naz Young, Madison Bush, and Trinity Howell (students)

- In its first two meetings, the committee discussed what could be done to make the music cirriculum more inclusive. Creating a stand-alone World Music course or a third music history class that would come from an ethnomusicology focus was mentioned. Within the confines of a very tight curriculum schedule as mandated by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) it was discussed embedding more world music course material into the current curriculum would be more feasible.

- In terms of repertory, the committee discussed encouraging instructors to compile lists of examples that are more inclusive into a shared list. The student committee member highlighted the fact that spirituals (a backbone of so much American music) would be a wonderful addition to analysis and discussion in the classroom.

- Another apporach to expanding the inclusiveness of the repertory is for instructors to encourage students to seek out diverse works which represent a wide variety of races, cultures, and genders. It has also been brought up that more support should be given to students of color to pursue graduate school as well as the possibility of establishing a scholarship specifically for students of color.


Fine Arts DEI Committee

Members: Faculty Alice Burmeister, Karen Oremus, Claudia O'Steen, Myles Calvert, Stacey Davidson (chair); Maura Conway (staff); Jewel Edwards and Tyjah Ezell (undergraduate students); Renee Holliday (graduate student); Lia Newman (alumni)

- In fall 2020, the Visiting Artist and Scholar Committee along with the Fine Arts faculty put their energy into existing partnerships and forming new ones to bring in artists and scholars from diverse communities, so as to better represent our student body.

- Two town halls were held: the first focused on listening to students' concerns regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion so as to form the basis of the Fine Arts DEI committee mission and to create action items for the department to fulfill our goal to create a culture of inclusion in our courses and department. The second town hall focused on creating a listening space to process the presidential election outcome, discussion, and an exercise to break down hierarchies between students and faculty, led by committee member Jewel Edwards and the DEI committee.

- Action items for spring 2021 include:

  1. Conduct workshops for faculty members to reflect on inclusive teaching practices and address microagressions that may occur inside and outside the classroom
  2. Facilitate workshop for faculty members to establish strategies and procedures to use in the classroom when getting to know our students' preferred pronouns and names.
  3. Create DEI syllabus statement.
  4. Department chair will work with Admissions to ensure we are recruiting from schools with diverse communities.
  5. Department chair will revisit the purchase of the mobile gallery for recruitment purposes.
  6. Department chair will work on designating some scholarship funds specifically for minority students.
  7. Faculty will continue to build partnerships to bring artists and scholars from diverse communities so as to better represent our student body.
  8. Department chair will follow up with the Student Affairs to voice concerns from our veteran students. The Fine Arts department will act as a liasion in future difficult situations for our veteran students.
  9. We are looking to launch some creative initiatives and campaigns to bring awareness to the Winthrop community and community at large. We are presently making portable letterpress printers and type with the laser cutter and the CNC router, as well as portable mini-etching presses with our 3-D printers, for ongoing initatives for our students and faculty to engage in.


Design DEI Committee

Members: Eva Roberts (chair), Jesse Weser, Elizabeth Dulemba, Mikale Kwiatkowski (faculty), Kyahdric Moses (student)

The Department of Design will take the following DEI actions:
- Create a DEI statement to include in our department's syllabus boilerplate
- Set up a scholarship fund to increase BIPOC enrollment
- Create a teaching mentorship for BIPOC undergrad students with the intent to increase diversity among faculty in higher education.
- Create a workshop focusing on graduate school opportunities, experiences, enrollment process, etc.
- Create a DEI-focuses database and resource list for students.
- Create open workshops & gatherings (as cultural events) for all department of design faculty, alumni, and students to discuss solutions to improve DEI in the department and the larger design discipline
- Expand curriculum in the History of Design and Illustration to include BIPOC creatives more fully
- Expand curriculum in History of Interior Design to include BIPOC creatives more fully

Last Updated: 1/27/23