Posted 12:54 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Dr. Charles Martin-Stanley retires after 20 years at UWL
Throughout his career, Charles Martin-Stanley used his passion for diversity, equity and inclusion as a compass, an indication of where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to do.
In 2001, that compass steered Martin-Stanley to UW-La Crosse, where he has been a champion for DEI causes ever since, serving as one of the associate deans of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CASSH).
Now, after 20 years at UWL and 34 years in higher education, he is retiring knowing that he succeeded in creating a brighter future for all students, staff and faculty — but especially those of color.
“Working with the dean’s staff and others to secure resources for faculty, staff and students to do their excellent work is what I have enjoyed most about my time at UWL,” says Martin-Stanley, whose last day is May 30. “Whatever success I have had in my career was due to the partnerships, collaborations and relationships I was able to develop to achieve the mission of the university.”
Martin-Stanley, who holds three degrees in psychology — a bachelor’s from Amherst College in Massachusetts and a master’s and doctorate from Stony Brook University in New York — spent the first 14 years of his career at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.
There, he was a professor of psychology and the department chair. He also directed the Governor’s Summer Institute, a summer residential program offering gifted high school students project-based, hands-on experiences.
He was drawn to UWL in part because of the Diversity Plan 2008, which laid out the university’s goals and action plan for boosting diversity and creating a more just and equitable campus.
“It seemed to me that UWL was a leader in the UW System on diversity, equity and inclusion issues,” he explains. “For me, diversity is defined not only as differences in individual backgrounds, but it is also the removal of barriers and the creation of safe spaces that allow all individuals to fully engage in the life of the university. Only by embracing DEI can we challenge our assumptions and broaden our understandings of what it means to live in a diverse world.”
Martin-Stanley’s personal highlights at UWL include:
- Developing a new psychology course on racism and oppression
- Chairing CASSH’s Diversity Committee
- Co-chairing the Inclusive Excellence Task Force
- Delivering DEI presentations at national conferences
- Writing grants to fund diversity reading seminars
- Lobbying for a new faculty mentoring program geared toward faculty of color
- Organizing a campus-wide training on implicit bias
- Directing a mentoring retention program for historically underserved students
- Advising the dean on issues related to recruitment, retention, promotion, pay, working conditions and university policies related to DEI.
“I appreciate the intelligent, calm and ethical stance Charles brings to the table and his consistent goal of promoting minoritized students,” Provost Betsy Morgan says. “Much of his work has been quiet and behind the scenes, but the impact can be seen in strong student and programmatic outcomes. I will miss his humor and his overall view of what could be a better world.”
The impact of his work didn’t stop at the borders of campus.
When Martin-Stanley noticed an opportunity gap in study abroad experiences for historically underserved students in 2013, he collaborated with a host of campus offices to re-establish UWL’s faculty-led study abroad program with Ghana and West Africa.
That summer, he traveled to Ghana to develop a comprehensive faculty-led study tour for the 2014 J-Term.
The following January, he led nine African American students and one white student on a 14-day study tour of West Africa — an experience he called “transformational for each student.”
In 2016, he led a second study tour in Ghana, this time with 11 UWL students of Hmong, African American and white backgrounds.
“During my career at UWL,” he says, “I have been fully committed to pursuing efforts to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion at the university.”
In retirement, Martin-Stanley hopes to devote more time to caring for his mother and, when the pandemic is over, traveling with his wife.
Those who have worked with Martin-Stanley have mixed emotions about his retirement.
They’re thrilled to see him complete an outstanding career, but they’re also sorry to see him go.
“Charles has been a constant and supportive colleague through six deans, many intensive initiatives and work, and also more broadly in my life both within and outside UWL,” says Marie Moeller, associate dean of CASSH. “I count myself immeasurably lucky to have worked alongside Charles for the past six years.”
Adds CASSH Dean Karl Kunkel: “It is obvious we will not be able to replace Charles, given his breadth of experience, strong leadership skills and thorough understanding of both UWL and higher education in general. Yet, we are grateful that his legacy and impact will persist in many ways for years to come.”