Adrienne Andrews – Weber State University
BY JENNY GOLDSBERRY
Adrienne Andrews is currently in her two-year term as Ogden Diversity Commissioner. She also recently celebrated her 16th anniversary with Weber State University as Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer. According to her, she is happily drawn to the area because of her family history.
Her grandmother, Bettye Berliner, grew up in Ogden. She wanted to swim in the local pool, but she wasn’t allowed. At the time, her community pool didn’t allow black people to swim there. However, Weber State University allowed all to swim in their pool, so that’s where Bettye went. This history is one of the reasons Adrienne loves to work for WSU. “I love that I work at a place that would allow my grandmother to swim before the city would,” she said.
It’s now her job to make sure the university continues to live up to its mission. “Encouraging freedom of expression and valuing diversity, the university provides excellent educational experiences for students through extensive personal contact among faculty, staff, and students in and out of the classroom.”
She talks to administrators, faculty, and students about everything from university procedure, to professors’ pedagogies, to personal anecdotes. All these conversations combine to help people see that there are always multiple perspectives and experiences. People join these gathering events virtually.
Early this year, Adrienne facilitated a social media event where the community talked to local law enforcement about recent events. She’s also hosted historic figures to share their stories. One example is Ruby Bridges, the first African American student to attend an integrated school in the South. Even now, during the pandemic, her influence is far-reaching. Her recent efforts have accomplished the university’s mission that “through academic programs, research, artistic expression, public service, and community-based learning, the university serves as an educational, cultural, and economic leader for the region.” Her work in the area led to the creation of the Ogden Diversity Commission.
According to Adrienne, much of the work of diversity and inclusion is being aware of unintended consequences. If we want to be inclusive, someone needs to be asking questions about who could possibly get left out. “My job is to help people understand what their intent is versus what their impact is,” she said. There are key questions she asks people:
Does my impact match my intent?
If it doesn’t, why doesn’t it?
Am I willing to consider the world is experienced differently than I experience it?
Thanks to all of her efforts, Adrienne is getting Weber State University closer to its vision every day: “To be the national model for a dual-mission university that integrates learning, scholarship, and community.”