People of Pitt-Greensburg: Assistant Dean Woods
by Jed Kudrick and Monroe Harris
Roland Woods is the new Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Pitt-Greensburg. Woods graduated from Slippery Rock University and previously worked at Pitt’s Oakland campus, the Urban League, Pittsburgh Job Corps, and Bon Air Baptist Church.
The Pitt-Greensburg Insider sat down with Dean Woods to talk about his plans for Pitt-Greensburg and his vision for this newly-created position on campus.
The Insider: What are your plans for Pitt-Greensburg?
RW: I want to bring people together through food, music, and a possible unity walk. I want to bridge the gap of student versus staff where the only connection is in a classroom. I’ve been working with the Westmoreland County coalition trying to connect resources that support Pitt Greensburg. I’m also working with HR, trying to connect employment opportunities with underrepresented communities so they are aware that Pitt Greensburg is hiring.
The Insider: Why did you take this job?”
RW: When this opportunity became available, I knew that I would be back in my passion and be able to continue making a difference in the lives of young adults because I bring a unique skill set that is unwavering in the ability to motivate individuals, to make sure they understand they’re being heard, that they’re understood, and that I can help guide them to become successful and provide the resources to combat personal transgressions. But also I want to make sure they know there are resources available that can help enhance their ability to be successful. I love helping other people, particularly young adults. Pitt-Greensburg is a place I was destined to be. I don’t take that lightly. I am in the presence of several students whom I’m a parental figure to. I have children myself. I don’t take that duty as a parental figure lightly. I make sure I give all the skills I’ve accumulated to help individuals towards their development. I felt like all the skills I’ve accumulated as a parent and the work sector have prepared me for an opportunity such as this. So far it has been nothing but joy to work on my passion. It really isn’t considered work in my opinion.
The Insider: “What is it like being the first director of diversity, equity and inclusion at this campus?”
RW: Well, there is always a first somewhere, and I’m excited about the opportunity. I know I’m here to make a difference. I know I am prepared to tackle whatever needs to be taken care of and I’m prepared to come up with solutions to problems.
The Insider: Why do you think it’s essential for a college to have a director of diversity, equity and inclusion?
RW: It’s important to have someone who meets with staff, faculty, and students to find out what would make a better campus for students. To do that, you have to get the expertise and the background knowledge from faculty, staff, and students to accumulate the kind of training and programs that are going to benefit the overall development.
The Insider: What do you think about the required anti-black racism course that every student at Pitt has to take?
RW: I’m not as familiar with the course. But I think it has to do with the fact that people come from different backgrounds. Some people come from rural areas where it may be all Caucasian or it may be diverse, but because all students come from different communities there are things that have been removed from high school curriculums that don’t teach about other ethnicities and people of color. I think it’s trying to shine a light. I think it has more to do with providing an educational module where you have somewhat of an understanding as to ethnicities that may not look like the color of your skin. I think it’s designed to help understand a different population other than where you may have grown up or reside in and prepare you for the workforce, which is diverse.
The Insider: Is there any other advice or information you would like to give to anyone reading this?
RW: Yes. This is 2023. We have taken advantage of the civil rights movement and other movements that have allowed us all to be in spaces, classrooms, communities, and jobs that didn’t exist at one point in time. Diversity is critical because we all have to live in the world we live in, and it’s important for us to understand other people. We don’t have to agree with other people, but we need to get a better understanding of what is fact versus fiction. Come up with your own assessment based on conversation as opposed to you reading something in newsletters, journals, magazines, or the internet, which can distort the ethnicities which live in the communities where we reside.
Students can stop by Dean Woods’ office on the second floor of Chambers Hall.
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