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Higgins named College of Education's associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion

  |   Kathryn Kao   |   Permalink   |   Service and Community,   Spotlight,   Students and Faculty

Marian Higgins, clinical assistant professor in the department of counseling and human development services, was named associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion of the Mary Frances Early College of Education on January 1, 2021, a role she previously served on an interim basis.

Marian Higgins

Prior to joining the College, Higgins served as the associate director of diversity programs in UGA’s Career Center and a career consultant for students in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. At the Career Center, Higgins developed programming for marginalized students, assisted employers with their diversity efforts and organized diversity training for staff.

“These experiences helped shape the vision for my work as associate dean,” said Higgins, who received her doctoral degree in counseling and student personnel services from the College. “I remain committed to creating equitable workspaces by understanding the experiences of students, staff and faculty and transforming policies and practices to ensure inclusivity and equity.”

Last semester, Higgins—along with Briana Bivens, a graduate assistant in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)—co-facilitated a workshop focused on diversifying syllabi for faculty and graduate students.

Together, they shared with participants a variety of DEI considerations and discussed centering communities whose histories, voices and contributions are often marginalized and left out of academic syllabi. The DEI Office will continue offering these sessions as faculty and graduate students seek to transform their syllabi and pedagogy.

“Higgins brings a wealth of expertise and professional experience to the DEI Office” said Dean Denise A. Spangler. “I’m excited to continue working with her and the DEI Office to ensure the College is a place where everyone feels a sense of belonging and can thrive.”

Currently, Higgins and a committee of faculty and students are planning the College’s 16th annual DEI Conference, which will occur March 22-24. This year’s theme is “What’s Education Got to Do with It? Embracing Joy, Healing and Collection Action.”

“The committee decided on the theme after reflecting on the impact of the pandemic and the anti-Blackness social movement,” said Higgins. “We believe it is important for our community to collectively address these issues through healing and action.”

Due to the pandemic, the office is currently using Zoom to engage faculty, staff and students. “We’ve had to think of ways to remain connected to people who would normally stop by the office while also considering their capacity to meet online,” she said. “We have incorporated individual reflections, small group discussions, and at times used the annotated features offered in Zoom.”

Higgins is especially interested in addressing the challenges people with marginalized identifies face while job searching. To tackle these issues and other injustices, she launched “Dive-In,” a podcast for career development professionals.

Each episode features a scholar who discusses a range of topics, such as women and work, healing from racial trauma, rural students and career decisions, as well as what strategies career development professionals can use to meet the needs of all students and clients.

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