Fall forum will discuss state of diversity issues

Oct. 8, 2013

by Susannah Brooks

With a new chancellor, new campus diversity leaders and a new framework for inclusivity and diversity on campus in the works, the 2013 Fall Diversity Forum will offer a lot to discuss.

To that end, the forum has expanded to a two-day conference for educators, students and community leaders across Wisconsin. The event, entitled “Diversity and Educational Achievement: A Wisconsin Agenda,” takes place on Monday, Oct. 21, and Tuesday, Oct. 22, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Union South.

As in past years, the forum’s topics will continue to focus on internal areas of success and growth. This year, organizers are also encouraging attendees to look outward. The 2013 forum is funded in part by a UW System grant that aims to address statewide issues of academic achievement in higher education for underrepresented groups.

“We’re examining the state of diversity issues with respect to the corporate, public and nonprofit sectors,” says Patrick Sims, interim chief diversity officer. “What’s happening in research — and how can we make sure that everyone is involved in these discussions?”

The keynote speakers include three national thought leaders. Sylvia Hurtado, professor and director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, will discuss creating campus engagement and accountability around the diversity planning process and increasing underrepresented student participation in the STEM fields.

Derald Wing Sue, professor of psychology and education in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at the Columbia University Teachers College and School of Social Work, will discuss “Micro-aggressions in the Academy” and the role such micro-aggressions play on impacting campus climate.

Following her presentation at February’s Inclusive Excellence Winter Symposium, Kate Lipper, policy and legal advisor for EducationCounsel LLC, returns to discuss implications of Supreme Court decisions regarding race-based admission policies and the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.

Sims, an associate professor of theatre and drama, is also excited by a smaller initiative that he hopes will set the tone for future presentations. Past forums have included artistic performances by groups such as the First Wave Urban Arts Collective and Sims’ own Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness. In 2013, the Diversity Forum has reached out to welcome Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre of Chicago, exploring the arts as a tool for educational transformation.

“Deeply Rooted will perform and discuss the role the arts could play in students’ ability to be successful on campus,” says Sims. “It’s a new way of broadening the conversation to include other modalities that typically aren’t thought of as being related to diversity work, but are instrumental in making sure that the work is done, and done well.”

A sampling of concurrent sessions includes:

  • The expanding definition of diversity under the law
  • The Personal Touch: A Holistic Approach to Diversity Leadership
  • Diversity Leadership = You
  • Creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth
  • Defining support needs with cultural sensitivity
  • Recruiting and retaining a diverse student population
  • Funding the essential components of diversity work
  • Partnering with community agencies
  • Moving toward a more diverse workforce both on and off campus