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Diversity Luncheon addresses respect, collaboration in the work place

Dean Lombardi promotes versatility in keynote speech

CONNECT and the Student Alumni Board of the College of Business hosted the second annual Diversity Luncheon on Saturday.

Among those in attendance were President Roderick J. McDavis, Vice Provost for Diversity, Access and Equity Brian Bridges and Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi, who served as the keynote speaker.

Approximately 75 students attended the luncheon, which explored the importance of handling diverse individuals in real life scenarios. Also attending were 15 alumni of different ages and educational backgrounds.

The alumni were seated among the students' tables to help facilitate discussion and to share their experiences with current students. The current CONNECT president, Andrew Vanderlind,
believes strongly in the alumni networking opportunities an event like this provides.

"Having alumni at this event provides students with a person who they are comfortable talking to, someone who they can relate to easily," Vanderlind said. "Also, the alumni are always so excited to come back to Athens and feel very strongly about giving back to the university and student base from which they were also a part of."

Each table was tried to solve a case study that outlined a scenario where individuals with unique personalities and work styles were not reaching their full potential in the workplace. The students were tasked with identifying the problem areas, developing a plan of action to alleviate tension caused by the diversity, and, finally, presenting their findings and suggestions to colleagues at a neighboring table.

In his keynote message, Lombardi stressed the importance of staying versatile in an ever-changing society. He stressed that the workplace will be very different from year to year and it's important to understand that diversity will be present in any and all situations.

Vanderlind was quick to reiterate that message.

"This program looks beyond the traditional levels of diversity," Vanderlind added. "Just because everyone in a room may look like you, that doesn't mean that it is not a diverse group. Everyone comes from different educational, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. There are always unique perspectives to be found."

Student Alumni Board (SAB) advisor Jamie Carter was all smiles when speaking of the two College of Business organizations and their collaboration for the Diversity Luncheon.

"These groups come together very well, there is always someone stepping up to fulfill a need," Carter said. "The collaboration between SAB and CONNECT was imperative for this event's success. I’m looking forward to what next year's luncheon will bring."

Anyone interested in participating in next year's luncheon, please e-mail Jessica Huizenga at Jessica.huizenga@gmail.com