Voices on Disruption: Alexis Abernethy

Alexis Abernethy (disruption)

Disruption can refer to several types of interruptions: a rupture that breaks apart, an event that throws things into disorder, or something that interrupts the normal course of things. In reflecting on Fuller’s move to Pomona, it feels like we are being torn away from Pasadena, we may fear being thrown into disorder, and we are ending the longstanding history of having the Pasadena campus as our home base. Some of us have been invested in Pasadena as a location for Fuller. Even as we see God’s providence in this move, we lament.

Interrupting the normal course of things is often uncomfortable, but this disruption has a different meaning when the normal state has included inequity and exclusion. Disruption is necessary. We need to reset— not only in how we strategically approach inclusion and equity, but also in terms of who we are as a Fuller community. In interviews that I conducted in my role as Director of Faculty Spiritual Formation, faculty expressed a desire to feel more a part of the team and valued; they also noted feeling hurt, wounded, and a sense of injustice. Over the years and recently, our students and alums have articulated the challenges associated with experiences of racial injustice and exclusion and how this has undermined their educational experience. Although Fuller has made important contributions, it has not adequately embraced diversity, inclusion, and equity—i.e., justice that is free from bias or favoritism. The reset that is needed is not only relational, but systemic.

As I embark in my new role as Associate Provost for Faculty Inclusion and Equity, I pray that God would transform us as we reset and embolden us to engage in a strategic process that results in inclusive and equitable change for faculty, students, staff, and senior administration.

+ In June 2018 longtime faculty member Dr. Abernethy was appointed Associate Provost for Faculty Inclusion and Equity, a new position created, in part, to address Black student concerns by helping Fuller learn to better integrate practices of diversity, inclusion, and equity into its faculty, curriculum, and mission.