Stockton’s Economic Inequality Initiative Kick-Off: Introductions

Thanks to all of you who have expressed such kind words about my introductions at Stockton’s Economic Inequality Initiative Kick-Off on Monday, September 28, 2015. Since a number of you asked me to share them, I have posted my introductions below. These remarks grow out of my experience learning from and working with Stockton’s Economic Inequality Initiative Team and the American Association of State Colleges and University national Economic Inequality Initiative group.

Hi I’m Carra Hood, Assistant Provost and Associate Professor of Writing. With my colleague Oliver Cooke, Associate Professor of Economics, I co-Chair Stockton’s Economic Inequality Initiative.

Welcome, everyone, to the Initiative’s kick-off.

Oliver and I work with a diverse, dedicated, and very talented Team of faculty members, administrators, and professional staff. A few of our Team members could not make it here today, but are here in spirit:

James Avery — Associate Professor of Political Science

Michael Busler — Professor of Business Studies, Finance

Tait Chirenje — Associate Professor of Environment Studies

Merydawilda Colon — Executive Director, SCCE, and Professor of Social Work

Dan Douglas — Director, William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy

Diane Falk — Professor of Social Work

Patricia Fazio — Electronic Resource Coordinator, Bjork Library

John Froonjia — Senior Research Associate, William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy

Dennis Furgione — Research Associate, Institutional Research

Ellen Mutari — Professor of Economics

Rose Scaffidi — Associate Professor of Nursing

Kelly Sloane — Public Policy Researcher, William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy

Emily Van Duyne — Assistant Professor of Writing

Dawn Watkins — Assistant, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Each one of us has joined this Initiative for personal reasons.

Some of us come to this initiative because we grew up poor and saw the effects of poverty and distress all around us. We couldn’t understand what we saw back then. When we asked ourselves: What can I do? We answered: Go to college. As frightening as that might have been for those of us who were the first in our families to pursue a degree, we stuck it out. We come to this Initiative to give back what we learned to those of you who are like us.

Some of us come to this Initiative because we took courses in college, read books, traveled, or watched movies that showed us worlds we didn’t know existed. In school, some of us were given opportunities to work in local communities, struggling in ways we might not have imagined. We gained knowledge through these experiences and learned, vicariously, the injustice of inequality. All of this knowledge and experience summoned us to pursue ameliorating inequality as a career. We come to this Initiative to share our path with those of you, like us, who cannot bear to witness unfairness and who want to fight homelessness, starvation, and other forms of deprivation by turning knowledge into action.

Some of us come to this Initiative because we teach and we have learned from you, our students and colleagues, that life can be tirelessly difficult and complex and trials so seemingly intolerable at times that it seems easier to give up on dreams and aspirations. We want you to know that you are not alone, that you are here with others who care, share your experience, and want to help. Together we can make positive differences in each other’s lives and in our world. By looking to our friends, family members, partners, neighbors, those we know and those we do not, those who are like us and those who are not, by really looking to everyone around us: What can we all do? We come to this Initiative to join you in creating a community that seeks economic justice, social equality, political fairness, a place to belong and from which to make change.

So, again, welcome everyone.

We have a lot of work to do, learning and sharing and teaching; we may not know quite what to do or where to start, but we’re all here to help each other figure it out.

Thank you.

-Carra

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