Founded in 1901 and located in Central Virginia, Sweet Briar College (SBC) is a small liberal arts college that strives to empower and educate young women to build and reshape their world however their passions lead them.
Led by Cheryl Steele, dean of co-curricular life and vice president of student affairs, the Division of Student Affairs employs 13 full-time and three part-time staff members across several departments, including first-year and sophomore programs, residence life, student involvement and programs, career services and campus student employment, health services and counseling, outdoor programs, the leadership certificate program and student spiritual life, to name a few.
At its core, Sweet Briar is committed to inclusion and respect. Steele and her colleagues aim to create a student affairs staff that reflects the diversity of SBC’s student body. Steele affirms that it is a priority: “The commitment to inclusion is across the college; it is embedded in everybody’s job. It is a primary goal of our division and a part of our college’s strategic plan, ‘Expand Whom We Serve.’”
Beyond leaders, staff within the division also affirm the importance of diversity in student affairs at SBC. Tasha Gillum, Sweet Briar alumna and director of outdoor programs, shares that she feels part of a “connected unit” that provides autonomy, support from senior leadership and many opportunities for collaborations to meet the unique needs of their students. In her tenure at SBC, Gillum — like many others — has had conversations exploring the privilege of staff and students among other professional development opportunities. Indeed, diversity and inclusion are shared commitments at Sweet Briar. As Gillum shares, “All are responsible for creating [the] community they want to see on campus.”