When Lisa D. Givan joined Indiana Tech in 2018, she was the school’s first executive to lead diversity and inclusion efforts. Since then, administrators, faculty, staff and students have all embraced changes that have helped bring a wider range of experiences and viewpoints to the classroom, campus and community as a whole.
“It’s been important that diversity, equity and belonging are not just buzzwords, but that we’ve truly accepted and adapted them as guiding principles that show we are an inclusive community,” says Givan, Indiana Tech’s vice president of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Belonging, and Chief Diversity Officer. “We’re moving past this idea of wanting everyone to feel included to feeling like they belong. We’ve worked hard since I came on board five years ago, and it’s led to a wide range of initiatives and programs that are aimed at creating a space where people can move past surviving to thriving.”
Indiana Tech serves nearly 5,000 students total, both in-person and online. Leaders at the school hope that not only do these students and the 400 employees benefit from a revamped curriculum, a variety of workshops and mentorship programs, but they also want people throughout the region to see a positive outcome.
“We’re trying to build this pipeline of inclusive leaders both in our campus community and in our surrounding community, because we want our students to understand that they have opportunities in Fort Wayne when they’re done — they don’t have to take their skills elsewhere,” explains Givan.
When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Indiana Tech has developed resources for both students and local professionals: A summer bridge program for diverse students from marginalized backgrounds, a conference for Black women planned for next spring, and the Leveraging Engagement and Action in Diversity (L.E.A.D.) Executive Certificate. This consists of immersive courses that focus on battling stereotypes in the workplace, creating an inclusive environment and building a culture of equity. After completing the program, participants have the tools they need to implement an equity action plan within their own organization.
“That program stands as our highlighter; our beacon of commitment to those principles,” emphasizes Givan. “We look at workforce diversity, inclusive leadership and knowledge sharing. There’s also our annual Martin Luther King program and breakfast. We’ve hosted national speakers and we don’t just bring them in for keynotes. They spend time with our students, faculty and staff.
“There are so many good things happening in Fort Wayne,” she continues. “I’m excited for what’s next as we further collaborate and come together to do good work for the city.”