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Diversity: Important to Ohio University

By Marisa Long

"What's Diversity Got to Do With It?" is a student-organized, University-wide conference dedicated to exploring issues of diversity on campus and in today's society. The conference, which takes place on Friday, Feb. 27, will feature various speakers discussing the value of diversity in many areas of students' lives.

The concept for holding the conference developed last spring, when members of the Ohio University Student Senate began meeting with Erek Perry, special assistant to the president, to discuss ways to address diversity on campus. In the fall, Jamie Walter, Student Senate president, began working with Tara Stuckey, student trustee on the Ohio University Board of Trustees, Student Senate and members of the newly formed Student Diversity Task Force to begin planning.

With continued support from Perry and the President's Office for Diversity, the Greek Community Council and the Office of Student Affairs, the conference became a reality.

"What's Diversity Got to do With It" Schedule

Keynote Address
Noon-1 p.m.

  • Topic: "What's Diversity Got to Do With It?"
    Speaker: Sylvia Hurtado
    Location: Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium

    Breakout Sessions
    1 p.m.-2 p.m.

    • Topic: Diversity and Leadership
      Speaker: Kim Bowie, LeaderShape Institute
      Location: Memorial Auditorium
    • Topic: Diversity in the Corporate World
      Speaker: Sarah Bradley, Nationwide Insurance
      Location: Baker Ballroom
    • Topic: Diversity and Ethnicity
      Speaker: Francis Godwyll, Ohio University professor
      Location: 1954 Lounge
    2 p.m.-3 p.m.
    • Topic: Diversity and Higher Education
      Speaker: Sylvia Hurtado
      Location: 1954 Lounge
    • Topic: Diversity in the Public Sector
      Speaker: Dr. Judith Millesen, Ohio University professor
      Location: Baker 327
    • Topic: Diversity for Student Leaders (Invite-only/must RSVP)
      Speaker: Kim Bowie, LeaderShape Institute
      Location: Baker Ballroom

    Student Leadership Diversity Dinner
    5 p.m.-7 p.m.

    • Location: Rotunda, New Classroom Facility
      Cost: $15 (must RSVP)
    "It has been encouraging to watch numerous student organizations collaborate in planning the conference," Stuckey says. "It is my hope that students will leave the conference with the inspiration to reach out to other students and student organizations."

    The conference includes a keynote speaker and multiple breakout sessions throughout the day, including a special session for up-and-coming student leaders. The day concludes with a student leadership diversity dinner. The cost for the dinner is $15, but groups are asked to sponsor members of their organization.

    "We hope this conference will serve as a catalyst for increasing the level of awareness and understanding of why diversity is important not only to our future, but also to sustaining an inclusive, meaningful, productive and diverse democracy," Perry says.

    Keynote speaker for the event is Sylvia Hurtado, professor of higher education at UCLA. Hurtado is also the incoming director of the Higher Education Research Institute, which for 35 years has been a national resource of information on college students and faculty. Hurtado specializes in student educational outcomes, campus climates and diverse students in higher education. She will be holding an open faculty workshop on Thursday, Feb. 26, prior to the conference, and there will be a senior leadership breakfast on Friday morning for administrators and deans.

    Other speakers include Kim Bowie, associate director of development at the Arizona Theatre Company and a lead facilitator for the LeaderShape Institute. Bowie will be facilitating the breakout sessions on leadership and diversity and the exclusive student leader session. Two University professors, Francis Godwyll and Dr. Judith Milleson, as well as Sarah Bradley from Nationwide Insurance, will also conduct sessions.

    "We feel very fortunate to have such incredible individuals educating students on diversity," says Walter.

    In addition to the conference, organizations and individual students will have the opportunity to participate in diversity quilt making. Each organization is invited to decorate a square and members of service organizations on campus will help to sew the quilt together. Also, many organizations are planning diversity-related events the week leading up to the conference.

    "Overall, the diversity conference is designed to bring our campus together, connect campus life with the outside world and provide a definition of and context for diversity," says Walter. "The conference has been a collaboration effort between student organizations, the campus administration and various faculty and staff members."

    For more information on the diversity conference or to RSVP, please contact Jamie Walter at jamie.walter@ohiou.edu or Tara Stuckey at stuckey@ohiou.edu or visit the diversity conference information page on the Student Senate Web site at www.mystudentsenate.com.

    Marisa Long is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.

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