BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Erika McCalpine, a business faculty member who has championed social justice issues within Oregon State University, OSU-Cascades and in the Bend community, has been named executive director of strategic diversity initiatives at OSU-Cascades.

“This is progress, and we’re moving in the right direction and will continue to do so,” McCalpine told NewsChannel 21 Tuesday.

McCalpine, who teaches courses in human resources, is the founder and director of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the Bend campus. She is also president-elect of the OSU Faculty Senate.

“Using the training that I have in business and with diversity, equity and inclusion, I decided to go to work and help make Bend a better place for people like me and others that are from diverse backgrounds to live and thrive in this community, and not just exist,” McCalpine said.

Andrew Ketsdever, interim vice president of OSU-Cascades, said in the announcement, “Erika has demonstrated a remarkable ability to lead through complex and challenging social issues, and build bridges across OSU campuses and throughout our community. I am confident that Erika will bring practical solutions as OSU-Cascades’ increases its capacity to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Right now, McCalpine admits diversity is lacking at the university. An OSU-Cascades spokeswoman confirmed there are only 90 faculty and staff members who identify as black out of 6,500 employees across the entire university. At the Bend campus, McCalpine is the only black member of full-time faculty., and just 1 percent of students at OSU-Cascades identify as black.

“Oregon has an interesting history, as it relates to race, specifically with the exclusion laws which kept black people out of Oregon,” McCalpine said. “We want to really change that narrative, so that everyone knows that Oregon is a great place to live for everyone.”

Ketsdever said the creation of this role, and McCalpine’s hiring, are important when looking ahead.

“What we’re looking for now is what the aspirational Central Oregon looks like,” he said. “What do we look like in terms of diversity for the future, and how do we reflect that here on this campus so that the community has a place to look to, for an example?”

In her new role, McCalpine will advise Ketsdever and campus leadership in designing and implementing strategies to advance social justice.

“I’m looking forward to accelerating OSU-Cascades’ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and to continuing to work with partners across Central Oregon as we create welcoming environments for people from all walks of life,” said McCalpine.

Her responsibilities will include designing and implementing an annual diversity, equity and inclusion training program for employees, and creating an on-boarding program that introduces new employees to campus values focused on social justice.

McCalpine’s role will also focus on leveraging partnerships throughout OSU – including with the university’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Division of Student Affairs, University Relations and Marketing and other academic and administrative units – that can support the Bend campus’s faculty, staff and students as they further diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

She will also engage Central Oregon community members in diversity, equity and inclusion topics through forums and events, and an annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Symposium.

About OSU-Cascades: Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest growing region in the state. Surrounded by 2.5 million acres of mountains and high desert, OSU-Cascades is a top-tier research university where small classes accelerate faculty-student mentoring. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. OSU-Cascades is expanding to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, building a 128-acre campus with net-zero goals.

Article was originally published by KTVZ.