Western Illinois University Alumnus Launches DEI Internship Fund, First Intern Hired
Tyler Leibnitz, a Western Illinois University sociology graduate student from Huntley (IL), has been named the inaugural recipient of the Randall and Delores Lindsey DEI Internship.
Western’s newest internship program, which focuses on justice, inclusion, diversity and equity, is on its way to being fully funded, thanks to Randall Lindsey, a 1965 graduate. Lindsey, and his wife, Delores, recently established the Randall and Delores Lindsey DEI Internship Program to support students and causes in the areas of justice, inclusion, diversity and equity. When fully funded, the DEI internship program will provide a minimum of three paid internships annually, in the form of graduate assistantships. Preference will be given to at least one student from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, one student from the School of Education and one student from the University at large. Students will work with their respective internship coordinator and their department to identify a project focusing on justice, inclusion, diversity, and equity.
“It is an honor to have been chosen for this opportunity to impact the community in a positive way while continuing the development of my research experience. As someone that initially struggled to find a college major that I felt passionate about, I am excited to be involved in a project that will potentially introduce more people to a wider range of social issues that need urgent attention,” Leibnitz said. “If we can help educators spark an interest in diversity, equality and inclusion in the younger population, then some of those students and educators may discover meaningful academic and professional paths that would have otherwise been overshadowed by more traditional corporate ideologies.”
As the inaugural Lindsey DEI Intern, Leibnitz plans to focus on gathering data from regional schools toward the development of a professional development experience for high school educators teaching in social sciences/social studies on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Three departments in the College of Arts and Sciences – sociology and anthropology, political science and EAGIS (earth, atmospheric & geographic information sciences) – are working together on this initiative.
“I first taught Tyler as an undergraduate in our program a decade ago, and his experience with project management, training and relationship development makes him the ideal selection as our first DEI intern and for our initial project,” added Tawnya Adkins-Covert, sociology and anthropology chair. “I am grateful for the Lindseys’ generosity and am thrilled to be working with our first DEI intern. The internship will provide an invaluable hands-on learning experience for WIU students, as well as make a significant contribution to our community and region.”
According to Randall, as a first generation college student and graduate, establishing the internship has been a dream to support the next generation. He earned his degree in education and social studies from WIU, and went on to teach at the college level. An emeritus professor at California State University, Los Angeles, Randall has a practice centered in educational consulting and issues related to equity and access. Prior to working in higher education, he was a junior and senior high school history teacher, a district office administrator for school desegregation and executive director of a non-profit corporation.
“Throughout the years, my experiences have been in working with diverse populations and my area of study is the behavior of white people in multicultural settings. It’s my belief, and experience, that all too often, white people are observers of multicultural issues rather than personally involved with them,” he added. “Delores and I started the Randall and Delores Lindsey DEI Internship Program at WIU to further the classroom and experiential learning opportunities for WIU students.”
Carl Ervin, acting director of the WIU Multicultural Center and interim director of the Office of Justice, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, noted that the Lindsey internship provides new opportunities for students.
“Through this generous donation we are able to expand and enhance scholarship in DEI and continue to move forward the WIU commitment to and embrace of social justice and equity as critical components of the educational experience,” Ervin said.
For more information about the WIU Department of Sociology and Anthropology, visit wiu.edu/cas/sociology/. For more information about the WIU School of Education, visit wiu.edu/coehs/education/.