Diversity Symposium launching online

Annual event features breakout sessions, town hall Q&As, keynote speaker

| Author: ​Jeff Johnston

Central Michigan University's fifth annual Diversity and Inclusion Symposium begins Friday in an interactive online format. It will be accessible to the entire CMU community for more than a month.

Participants can learn about university efforts at their own pace in eight breakout sessions and register for town hall-style Q&A sessions that will begin May 8.

The theme — "2020: The Future of Engagement and Equity in Action on Our Campus" — reflects the university's commitment and action taken on 73 initiatives from across campus units.

The symposium is an opportunity for colleges and units to demonstrate their work toward making CMU a safer and more inclusive environment. Representatives from all colleges and units, Student Government Association, the Professional and Administrative Council, and graduate and undergraduate students arrived at the initiatives as appointed members of the university Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.

Broad input was important, said Nikita Murry, director of the Office of Diversity Education and producer of the symposium.

"As a helping professional, I know that sometimes feeling unheard leads to frustration or apathy, because it can seem as though nothing will change," Murry said. "So the work is in helping people to push for healthy and positive ways to be heard and to be empowered toward designing the change they hope for."

Two of the initiatives have resulted in new employee learning goals reflected in annual performance reviews and a new required online diversity awareness program for all incoming students.

"Many of the multiple responses to the student calls for action that came from racial incidents in fall 2018 are in initiatives developed here," said CMU Chief Diversity Officer A.T. Miller, chair of the DEI Council.

Amy Andrews, an executive coach on diversity, equity and inclusion, is the symposium's keynote speaker. She is a first-generation computer science and math CMU alum with a 33-year career in the U.S. Department of Defense. Andrews is a senior executive and expert in data science techniques and human capital technology. She specializes in solving diversity and inclusion issues, especially for women and others underrepresented in STEM roles.

In addition to Andrews' keynote, the eight breakout sessions that will be accessible online are:

  • Geography Matters: Rural Student Experiences at CMU.
  • Equity in a Diverse and Inclusive STEM Faculty.
  • Making Room for Unique Needs – Quality of Life Rooms.
  • Navigating CMU's Online Diversity Resources.
  • Finding Unity in Affinity Groups.
  • Student Responses to COVID-19.
  • CMU Diversity Initiatives.
  • Collaborations in Promoting Wellness: Joint Project with Delta College.

Scholarship students who need to engage in multicultural activities and employees who need to meet learning goals can count participation in the symposium toward their requirements.

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