On October 2, 2020, Head of School John Austin announced to Deerfield faculty, and, later, the entire community, the resignation of Director of Inclusion and Community Life Marjorie Young. Her resignation leaves the one-person Office of Inclusion and Community Life (OICL) vacant. As the school searches for an official replacement for this significant position, the Inclusion Task Force, directed by Dean of Students Amie Creagh, Dean of Faculty John Taylor, and Dean of Academics and Strategic Planning Ivory Hills, will be filling in for Ms. Young’s work of inclusion on campus.
Deerfield looks to not only fill the position of Ms. Young but also to extend the reach of promoting inclusion on campus. Mr. Taylor and his colleagues hope to achieve this by hiring an associate Dean of Faculty as well as new admission officers to look to further diversify campus, an initiative Ms. Young started during her tenure at Deerfield. While there are potential hires underway, there are currently no concrete plans on replacing the vacancy in the OICL.
Ms. Young’s encouragement of difficult discussions led, as Ms. Creagh noted, “our school population to feel or recognize the need for inclusion work on campus, broadly defined. That all of us can plug into inclusion either because of its worth or because we have felt on the margins from time to time.” Mr. Taylor, who was deeply involved in the hiring of Ms. Young, said, “If [Ms. Young] hadn’t been here we’d have even a longer road to climb.”
Ms. Young’s impact on Deerfield inclusion is nothing short of significant, and any work done by the Inclusion Task Force will be built upon her pioneering achievements. The Task Force is currently working closely with Dr. Roland Davis who assists the Disciplinary Committee Task Force, various alliances, cultural competency advocates, and the planning of events such as Martin Luther King Day.
Dr. Austin listed many more plans for future promotion of inclusion, including increased engagement with Deerfield alumni of color. Deerfield is partnering with a firm to interview alumni of color and their families to hear their voices and experiences of attending the school. “We want to reaffirm access and equity,” said Dr. Austin. “We want to ensure that a Deerfield education is available to all interested students regardless of financial means.”
Whether the Inclusion Task Force will bring all their plans to fruition is left to time, though administrators remain optimistic. Transparency to the community may prove to be a vital step in creating a more inclusive Deerfield.
Ms. Young used to say that “inclusion is everybody’s job.” Future changes to the OICL and campus as a whole will work to ensure that everyone at Deerfield is dedicated to fostering an environment of such inclusion and celebration of differences, furthering Ms. Young’s vision of a culturally competent Deerfield.