WINGATE — Marcus Kirkland will lead Wingate University’s newly-created Office of Diversity and Inclusion, according to a report from the school. Wingate University Vice-President and Director of Athletics Steve Poston announced the creation of the athletic department’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion on Wednesday (June 17).

Kirkland has been on the Wingate University men’s basketball coaching staff for eight years, and has been Associate Head Coach for four years.

“I would like to thank Mr. Poston and Mrs. Caddigan for entrusting me with such an important position,” Kirkland said in a statement. “I also would like to thank head coach Brian Good for allowing me to serve our student-athletes in this position. All of their commitment highlights the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in our athletic department! I look forward to serving and highlighting the kaleidoscope of cultural backgrounds, life experiences, individual perspectives and numerous characteristics of what makes up Wingate’s athletic department.”

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will include the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Council, which will have one player representative from each team at Wingate, while also including three-to-five coaches from the university along with members of the athletic administration staff. The program will have monthly meetings to discuss a wide variety of topics, including department victories and opportunities, internship programs, lyceum opportunities, volunteer and mentorship programs, student-athletes concerns.

“The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is a very important first step toward our goal of ensuring that each student-athlete on the Wingate campus feels valued and respected,” Poston said in the statement. “The events of the past few weeks have increased our awareness that we must act if we hope to make significant and lasting change. I cannot think of a better person than Marcus Kirkland to lead us as we embark on this opportunity to address the issues of racism and Injustice that confront our society. I sincerely appreciate his willingness to take on this extra responsibility. Athletics offers a unique platform for increasing awareness and understanding. In the spirit of OneDog I look forward to our discussions as we seek to improve to become an NCAA Model Division II athletic department. Successfully addressing diversity and inclusion is a critical element of that effort.”

The mission statement for the Office of Diversity of Inclusion is as follows:

• Our office endeavors to pursue, promote and maintain programs that will heighten the awareness, presence and success of minorities and other under-represented groups at Wingate University. Our goal is to support inclusion, enhance diversity, and provide opportunity to minorities and under-represented groups.

“I am so proud to be a part of an athletic department that is committed to being an inclusive community of competitive excellence and am grateful to Coach Marcus Kirkland for assuming such an important leadership role,” Deputy Athletic Director Michelle Caddigan said. “Our goal is to create an environment in which each of our student-athletes feels valued, respected and understood. This diversity and inclusion program will ensure we are taking the appropriate action to support, empower and include our diverse student-athlete population.”

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will offer personal support, answer questions, provide information on internships, dispense relevant academic information, and provide general information on campus life and social activities. The office will also work closely with the Lyceum office to bring relevant programming for our student athletes on campus, while also working to educate administration and coaches on NCAA legislation and programs pertaining to Diversity and Inclusion. In addition, the office monitors campus climate, collects data and acts as general ombudsman for minority and under-represented student athlete issues.