$1 million gift creates center, expands resources for equity and inclusion

Glenn and Myretta Taylor, of Libertyville, Ill., for St. Olaf College. (Anne Ryan/Polaris)
St. Olaf Regent Glenn Taylor ’73 and his wife, Myretta Taylor, have made a $1 million gift to support the new Glenn and Myretta Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, which aims to foster an inclusive environment across the intersections of race and identity that students bring to St. Olaf.

As co-chair of St. Olaf College’s Working Group on Equity and Inclusion, Regent Glenn Taylor ’73 spent much of last year leading a campus-wide conversation about ways to create a more diverse and welcoming community for all.

Shortly after the Working Group released its recommendations this spring, Taylor and his wife, Myretta, began a conversation of their own: how they could best support long-term, sustainable change on campus.

That conversation culminated in their decision to provide a $1 million gift to establish the Glenn and Myretta Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, which aims to foster an inclusive environment across the intersections of race and identity that students bring to St. Olaf. The College will provide a matching grant from the endowment to support the center.

“The Glenn and Myretta Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion will bring renewed energy and resources to St. Olaf’s commitment to nurture a culture of inclusive welcome for students, faculty, and staff and to meet the College’s goal of becoming a more welcoming community for all,” says St. Olaf President David R. Anderson ’74.

The Glenn and Myretta Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion will expand and house services currently provided by the Center for Multicultural and International Engagement (CMIE). As part of the College’s Student Life Division, it will be a core function of St. Olaf’s residential learning, along with Health and Wellness, Student Activities, Public Safety, and Residence Life.

“It is our hope that the services provided by this gift support the full welcome, inclusion, and success of all students.” — Glenn Taylor

Services will include dedicated programs for students of color and international students, as well as multicultural engagement campus-wide. This engagement will range from speakers and public events to further education, outreach, and training for students, faculty, and staff. St. Olaf Vice President for Student Life Hassel Morrison will work with staff to shape the center’s vision and operations, and will hire a new director this year.

“Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment takes training, persistence, and ongoing support,” says Morrison. “It’s a tremendous opportunity Glenn and Myretta are giving us — this gift will create the resources the College needs to continue our work towards this goal.”

As co-chair for the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion, Glenn Taylor worked with the 11-member committee to identify key impact areas and ways the College can remove barriers that prevent students from fully participating in St. Olaf’s campus community. Expanding CMIE’s work was a priority identified through conversations with individuals and organizations across St. Olaf, including representatives from CMIE.

“My experience was a big part of the reason Myretta and I wanted to make this gift,” Taylor says. “We wanted to do something that would help the College sustain the important work that the group started. It is our hope that the services provided by this gift support the full welcome, inclusion, and success of all students.”

The Taylors’ gift is part of St. Olaf’s For the Hill and Beyond comprehensive campaign. Donors have raised more than $188 million over the last five years to advance high-impact learning, strengthen St. Olaf’s residential community, enhance the affordability of a St. Olaf education, and sustain the mission of the College.

“St. Olaf College is making great strides toward becoming more equitable and inclusive,” Taylor says. “We’re at the beginning of a new stage — this is just to get it started.”