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Sports Ad Diversity Series: Joseph Watkins (MSA '15), Chief of Staff, Lincoln University

Tuesday, February 9 2016 01:15pm

The Chief of Staff at Lincoln University talks about how inclusion can be overlooked in organizations, and the challenge of creating a welcoming campus environment

Joseph Watkins, Ohio University

Q & A by Terrance Thomas (MSA '17)

What is your current role at Lincoln University?

I am the Chief of Staff. I accompany the president of the university to meetings and at campus activities/events, as well as follow up on university initiatives. In addition, I work on multiple special projects with the Director of Philanthropy. Lastly, I am the director of marketing and sponsorship for athletics.


What about diversity makes you uncomfortable?

What makes me uncomfortable about diversity is seeing it as a destination and not a journey, the thought that to be diverse you have to reach a certain number of diverse individuals to say you are diverse. Diversity is a buzzword right now and therefore it is popular. People are missing the next step because they are too focused on diversity per se.

Inclusion is what is being overlooked. The notion that if you get all the “right” people in the room it makes you diverse is right, but the goal should be inclusion.


How has diversity played a role in shaping your social style?

I continually strive to keep in touch with those that are unlike me to continually orient my mind in knowing what diversity is. This shapes my social life because I am able to derive many perspectives from different cultures and backgrounds.


Describe how you would work to create a campus environment that is welcoming, inclusive and increasingly diverse.

The first step is ensuring that the material that is being marketed to prospective students, faculty/staff, and community members reflects the environment that is trying to be created. There should be a healthy mix of stories of students representative of the diversity the school possesses that are doing great things on campus.

The second step is having a consistent mantra and action plan to creating a diverse campus. This plan needs to begin with including portions of orientation devoted to the importance and celebration of diversity, Lastly, the necessity of multicultural centers cannot be underscored enough. Campus activities should ensure all diverse groups on campus feel they are trying to be reached.  

What is something that you learned about yourself while attending OHIO?

I used to believe that I was very objective about the world before attending Ohio University. However, my belief changed slightly. I instantly figured out that a person is only objective based upon his or her experiences, which makes everyone subjective to a certain extent.

There are many worldviews and it takes a special environment (Ohio University) to merge them. I learned the key to success is finding the middle ground of everyone’s objective viewpoint. When middle ground is found, it allows groups to work harmoniously by not letting counter viewpoints impede relationships. 


What is a piece of advice you would give to a first year student (MBA/MSA dual student) in their last semester of their MBA year?

Absorb as many experiences as you can to broaden your exposure. Many times, the work can feel overwhelming and cause one to either get it done hastily or not be involved in so many activities. I would caution against this.

The program is structured in a way to test your bounds. The more exposure a student is able to gain with a diverse number of experiences the better they will be prepared for their job. Duties as assigned can include some very unexpected responsibilities, being involved prepares students for that.


What is your favorite Sports Ad memory?

My favorite sports administration memory was the Tobacco Road field trip during our second year. Often, most of the discussion we (classmates) had was centered upon business or sports administration topics. The Tobacco Road trip, while being educational and providing professional development opportunities, allowed us to learn each other for who we were as people.

The class of 2015 really grew closer while experiencing once in a lifetime activities. We were also provided insights from alumni as to how to be a better employee. Our class was able to experience first-hand how our relationships will grow to allow us to give back to current students. It certainly is something I will never forget.

The Tobacco Road trip as much as any other experience makes Ohio University’s Sports Administration program the best in the land.