This is the first of a series of articles profiling key advocates and leaders for diversity at educational institutions in Madison.
     Need help with any issue or concern at EdgewoodCollege? If so, you will find an excellent resource in Pearl Leonard-Rock, Director of the Center for Diversity. Pearl has been working with the Center since she came to Edgewood in 2000. She hails from Robbins, Illinois, a suburb just south of Chicago. Pearl has had a lot of experience working with students which she obtained working for the U.S. Department of Education TRIO Student Support Services Program.
     According to Pearl, "EdgewoodCollege's mission is grounded on Dominican values which embody truth, justice, compassion, community, and partnership. As a liberal arts college, Edgewood students receive solid training in applicable skills, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, an appreciation of culture and the arts, and a better understanding of the world that we share."
     Most of us who have worked to promote diversity in higher education are aware of the fact that one critical factor that is necessary for success is strong leadership and support from the top. Pearl is confident that EdgewoodCollege's relatively new President, Dr. Daniel Carey, is the right person for the job. Of Dr. Carey, Pearl noted that "he has walked the walk when it comes to diversity and inclusiveness. Dr. Carey has engaged me in conversations about the current state of the union of as it pertains to diversity and inclusiveness at Edgewood. He has committed his time and resources to improving the climate for faculty, staff and students." Pearl indicated that in the past year, Edgewood had a nationally acclaimed external evaluator for creating sustainable multicultural environments and a nationally recognized expert in the field of social justice facilitate a day-and-a-half workshop for Edgewood employees who are in influential leadership positions on campus. Campus-wide training for the leadership and frontline staff is very critical to efforts to change institutional culture and improve campus climate. 
     Pearl acknowledged that while it is important to have a point person or champion for diversity, it is also equally important for the leadership to send the message to all on campus that diversity is everyone's responsibility. She noted, "Dr. Carrey emphasized this in remarks he made to campus when he recently said that professionals in all other areas of campus must realize how important it is for them to be appropriately responsive to the needs of all students and that they should not assume or refer students of color to another office if they are not requesting it." She also emphasized that "it is this kind of speaking up that has helped me to alleviate the burden that I have carried in my role in trying to be everything to all students." 
     Pearl is proud of the good work that she has done to network with colleagues at UW-Madison and with folks in the community. A major event that she encourages colleagues from the UW, MATC, and people from the Madison community to attend is the upcoming visit of Yolanda King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on October 11, 2006. 
     When asked what aspect is most satisfying about her job, Pearl responded that "it is the realization that I can see the results of hard work to get other faculty and staff to do multicultural programming in areas where one might consider it unlikely." What is it that inspires her to come to work everyday?  "It is the good feelings I get by knowing that people see that I am a good resource especially for people of color and that they know that I will be there for them and look after them." What does Pearl do when she finds the time to break away from her duties at Edgewood to relax? Her ideal form of relaxation is "going to the Caribbean, eating good food and lying on the beach."
     If you are a member of the Edgewood or Madison community, or a prospective student or parent, Pearl is a gem who is available and who will be there to go the extra mile for you!   
The literary Divide/ Dr. Paul Barrows
A "Pearl" who is as solid as a "Rock"
June 14 '06 Issue Archives