When Susan Timm, Ed.D., professor of business at Elgin Community College, was honored with the YWCA Elgin's 2021 Harriet Gifford & Hattie Griffin Award for Education in recognition for her unwavering efforts related to diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice, it came as no surprise to her colleagues at ECC.
If there is an equity, diversity, or inclusion effort underway at ECC, Timm likely had a hand in it. Known throughout the campus and District 509 community for her leadership, she helped create the grassroots TIDE (Teaching/Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity) group, which she co-chaired for several years, is part of ECC’s Illinois Equity in Attainment (ILEA) team, currently co-chairs MAGIC (Multicultural and Global Initiatives Committee) and is a member of the Student Support Infrastructure (SSI) team, co-chairing the subcommittee on culturally responsive teaching.
“We are looking at systemic changes within teaching and learning,” said Timm of the subcommittee. “In this regard, we just finished updating the syllabus template to assure the language was more in line with Cultural Responsive Teaching. We also wanted to assure accessibility.” Bringing in other content experts from around campus, this subcommittee continues to look at other systems and processes, including class observation and content assessment forms. “We want to have diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to be some of the first thoughts our faculty have when preparing for and facilitating the learning in their classes,” said Timm.
Of the many projects she’s worked on within SSI, a relatively recent accomplishment was the creation of a new targeted Student Life Coordinator position. This position, now called Student Life Coordinator for Student Equity and filled by Erik Enders, focuses on supports and resources for underrepresented students.
As the first co-chair of TIDE, Timm led the charge to encourage ECC Faculty to create culturally responsive classrooms. One of the key elements of TIDE is their Faculty Chats, an opportunity for faculty from across divisions to get together and talk about current challenges, what’s working in the classroom, or trends among student outcomes.
One of the ways TIDE has been working to achieve this goal is partnering with MAGIC, which Timm happens to currently co-chair. She works tirelessly with Professor Clark Hallpike to plan and present conversations on critical topics, which are often topics of discussion over in TIDE.
Initially, MAGIC focused on student participation – the discussions were meant to be something faculty could bring their classes to or ask students to attend. Over time, MAGIC has evolved to host students, faculty, ECC employees, and community members. “It’s just exciting to me to see that more people than ever are interested in listening and learning, especially among our staff,” said Timm. “We’ve expanded our connections to where faculty, staff, even community members now come to us and ask MAGIC to partner on various initiatives or events because they know the value that MAGIC brings to the table.”
When asked why she pursues EDI work so relentless, Timm replied, “EDI, accessibility, and social justice issues are part of my being. I am deeply saddened by those who fail to listen to anything related to EDI issues, especially since these human topics have become so divisive and politicized today.”
She remembers one student in particular who spoke at the end of a MAGIC event. “He said, ‘You know I came in here thinking everyone's going to be talking negative about this one thing, and I’m real positive for it, and I was really surprised that you gave it a fair shake. I actually changed my mind.’ So, people can and do change. And one person can and has made a difference. I can make a difference. Therefore, I keep working on advancing EDI issues wherever and whenever I can. I have hope for a better tomorrow.”