Head of School, Board Chairman describe diversity goals

Jack Guardiola

Preparing students for diversity in college, the workplace, and the “real world” are among these goals.

To Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr. Stephen Cloetingh, diversity at Malvern is necessary in order to prepare students for life after Malvern.

“Our goal as a school is not only to prepare students to go to college, but to prepare you to succeed in college, and then be able to succeed in life. And the world is diverse,” Cloetingh said.

According to Head of School Father Donald Reilly, O.S.A., diversity can be seen in ethnic origin, education, socioeconomic differences, and differences in religion.

Reilly said that diversity will expand a student’s mind and horizons by being exposed to other perspectives and opinions.

“Diversity releases empathy within me, i.e. I am able to walk in another’s ‘shoes.’ I expand my knowledge of what makes me different from someone else when I accept the value of diversity in my life,” Reilly said. “I come to a better knowledge of myself and I come to the conclusion that the Creator created a human family not just a ‘kind of person.’  Diversity expands my experience of who God is.”

Cloetingh and Reilly both said that Malvern is actively trying to become a more diverse school.

“We have the Diversity Club, we’ve got the diversity committee, we’ve got SEED [Seeking Education, Equity, and Diversity] training, we’re looking at doing some things with colleges to bring in a faculty perspective, some student teachers to come in here, graduate student teachers who are diverse,” Cloetingh said.

Cloetingh said the Board is committed to making Malvern a more diverse environment.

“The Board recognizes and is going to invest in diversity,” Cloetingh said. “We passed a diversity policy a few years ago and it’s a matter of working really hard to get to that point and finding the right diverse candidate to come in and be a part of the community.”

Cloetingh also said that there is a specific committee of the Board that focuses on diversity.

“We do have a Diversity and Inclusion committee on the Board, that specifically focuses on that. When you have a standing committee on the Board that is assigned a certain task, it’s important to the Board, otherwise we wouldn’t have it,” Cloetingh said.

According to Reilly, Malvern does have strengths when it comes to incorporating diversity at Malvern, especially service trips.

“Our service trips here at MP expose us to diversity and they offer us life-changing encounters. I have heard students (and faculty and staff) say when they return from a trip both here and abroad that they made friends with those with whom they lived and to whom they gave service,” Reilly said. “These experiences are invaluable for personal growth and a spiritual appreciation of who God is among and within us. If I am able to accept another person as he/she knows herself/himself to be, I am able to love them, I am able to adhere to Christ’s commandment: Love one another.”

To Cloetingh, Malvern’s greatest strength is its Augustinian faith. However, Cloetingh did say that Malvern did have a couple weaknesses when it comes to diversity, like Malvern’s location and the lack of diversity in Malvern’s alumni base.

“Frankly, we haven’t had as much diversity as we should have over the years. We just don’t have as many alumni to pool from for diversity,” Cloetingh said.

Cleotingh and Reilly said that being accepting of differences is essential throughout life.

“It couldn’t be more important. Diversity is what you see every day in the real world. We are in an insulated area where we have been very non-diverse for a very long time,” Cloetingh said.

According to Reilly, being accepting of differences is important for a leader.

“If brotherhood and leadership are among the goals to which we aspire here at Malvern, acceptance of difference and embracing the value of diversity engage us with and for others,” Reilly said.

Cloetingh said although there is not one way to become a more diverse place, Malvern is utilizing as many means as possible.

“There’s no ‘Philly Special’ for diversity. We have to use as many tools as we can,” Cloetingh said.