News - Greenville U's Time is Now Says Alumna/Authority on Diversity and Inclusion

Greenville U's Time is Now Says Alumna/Authority on Diversity and Inclusion

by Carla Morris

Venessa_Brown-Convocation“Hereinafter,” “transfer of assets,” “by virtue of the law” . . .

The language of fund agreements rarely inspires, but for Greenville University Trustee Dr. Venessa A. Brown ’83, the “legalese” begins a new chapter in a compelling story she has lived: a story of strong identity in Jesus Christ among diverse believers who worship together and pave the way for His “kingdom come.”

Brown’s personal history of inclusion at Greenville University and the enduring relationships it birthed helped inspire $20,000 in funding for diversity and inclusion in her honor. The gift is designed to create conversations on campus around diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, and ultimately help today’s students embrace the goodness of inclusion.

No Difference

“When I came to GC, I learned to worship with white and Latino Christians,” she recalls. “We all loved the Lord; there was no difference.”

Thirty-five years later, she effortlessly lists memorable influences from her collegeHollisters days, including strong preparation for her career in higher education and her formal introduction to servant leadership.

Holding a special place in her heart are former Professor of Sociology Dr. J. Elliott Hollister and his wife Irma, who embodied godly hospitality and inclusion. Year after year, they welcomed Brown into their home and family. The years turned into decades. The unfailing welcome fostered a deep sense of belonging.

“Even after leaving GC, I had Christmas with them for over 25 years until the Lord took both of them home,” she says. “I am still involved with their children, and we are family.”

Christian Higher Education Out Front

Now associate chancellor and chief diversity officer at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville where she oversees institutional diversity and inclusion, Brown treasures that vivid “flesh and blood” experience of inclusion. It fuels her belief that building relationships and accepting all people is key to truly preparing for the Kingdom of God.

It makes sense for Christian higher education in general and Greenville University in particular to lead conversations about diversity, inclusion, equity and justice because “we have the Word to guide us,” she says, not to mention the incomparable experience of God’s grace.

“God’s love breaks down barriers. Given the climate in the world today, G.U. students should be the model for the region, the state, the nation and the world . . . When students come to G.U. they should leave with a marketable degree that allows them to build relationships with all people.”

It’s time

Brown has a vision for fellow alumni, too—that they engage by listening to young people even when the conversations become difficult, and help them come to know the Lord as a God of love, peace, acceptance and respect.

Again the Hollisters come to mind: “[They] loved me as if I was their own and I will forever be grateful to them for their guidance.”

Brown understands that conversations sow the seeds for relationships. Of students, she says, “Now is the time to dialogue with them about the ways in which God has been truly alive in our lives . . . Let’s write a G.U. story that resonates with love and acceptance of all people.” 

Always Room for More

If you want to co-author that story right now, click here to give.

  • Select "Brown Diversity Fund-Current Use" to immediately impact diversity and inclusion.
  • Select Brown Diversity Fund-Endowment to impact inclusion in the future.

"We are excited to have received this generous gift," said Pedro Valentin, dean of diversity and inclusion at Greenville University. "These funds will assist in advancing our commitment to deliver high quality programs that advance Greenville University's vision to become a diverse and inclusive community where all members thrive."

Call 618-664-6500 to learn more.

Learn More

Faculty and Staff Attend The Voices Conference
Blend of Leadership and Service Score On and Off the Court
Mosaic Student Association
Institute for Community Justice

This story was published on July 05, 2018




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