Faculty and Staff of Color Network expands outreach efforts

Lehigh’s Faculty and Staff of Color Network (FSCN) is expanding its presence across the community through networking and other social events to be held throughout the year.

The FSCN is committed to building a supportive network of faculty and staff, providing professional development, hosting events that increase networking and retention, and strengthening bridges to other institutions in the Lehigh Valley.

“The goal and purpose of FSCN is to be inclusive, to make people feel welcome and let them know they have a community and environment they can connect with,” said Twana Walker, director of undergraduate advising at the College of Business and Economics and FSCN tri-chair. “We want to make sure Lehigh is inclusive. We want all of our employees to know that they have this safe space where all are welcome.”

Every new and existing faculty and staff member at Lehigh is invited to join the network.
FSCN was founded in the spring of 2011 by Courtney Jones, the previous assistant director of Multicultural Affairs at Lehigh.  Previous co-chairs Jennifer Swann, professor of biological sciences, and Lydia N. Benjamin, executive secretary to the vice president and associate provost for research and graduate studies, were instrumental in establishing the network. The aim of the program is to promote an environment at Lehigh that welcomes under-represented and self-selected communities of color and to improve Lehigh’s sense of community and inclusiveness.

“It has been an exciting time as we continue to roll out events and networking opportunities for the folks associated with FSCN and newcomers,” said FSCN co-chair Karen A. Sims, director of information processing in advancement services.

Recent events include the FSCN “Getting Acquainted Mixer” held on Sept. 24 at Broadway Social and a tailgate at Goodman Stadium on Nov. 21 to celebrate the Lehigh vs. Lafayette football game.

Sims said FSCN is also looking to expand its reach into the greater Lehigh Valley area by working with nearby colleges and universities. Network members recently attended an event hosted by the LVAIC Coalition for Racial and Ethnic Diversity aimed at administrators. In addition to Lehigh, coalition members include Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Lafayette College, Moravian College and Muhlenberg College.

“We get a bigger bang when we collaborate with our nearby colleagues,” Sims said.

Clara Buie, assistant director of English as a second language in the Office of International Affairs and FSCN tri-chair, said that this year, FSCN is focused on cultivating allies to bolster their efforts and empowering existing members to have a stronger voice on campus. Buie said upcoming events for spring 2016 will have those themes in mind. 

Learn more about the organization as well as upcoming networking and social events for the Spring 2016 by visiting the FSCN website.

If interested in getting involved, email the tri-chairs at: fscn@lehigh.edu.

Story by Emma Fried