Inaugural conference well attended
To develop a working definition of diversity and inclusion and increase self-awareness regarding various aspects of culture and identity were just two purposes of the inaugural Tri-State Conference on Diversity and Inclusion on Friday at Ohio University Southern.
“I think everything is going very well,” Dr. Nicole Pennington, OUS dean, said. “We are thrilled to host this inaugural conference on diversity. We’ve had a great turnout and great presenters and the sessions have really provided a lot of shared ideas and different perspectives.”
The conference featured nine concurrent sessions spanning topics such as cultural distinctiveness, religious diversity, generation gaps, reality television, aggression, sexual preference and autism spectrum disorders.
Assistant Dean for Diversity for Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and the Marshall University School of Pharmacy Dr. Shelvy Campbell presented a session titled, “Keep it Real.” The board game-based session encourages communication that allows people to experience one another in more deep and meaningful ways.
“It’s a really great experience to break down barriers,” Campbell said. “They really enjoy it.”
Madison King works for INTO Marshall University, a program for international students to join a supportive community that is committed to helping them integrate into American university life.
King said she attended two sessions: One called “Including the ‘Other’: Reflections from a black, Appalachian, Transgender Man’” and “Interfaith Dialogue: Finding Common Ground.”
“They were great,” she said. “Very, very good.”
Amber Bazell plans to one day teach and she said diversity is key for being a successful teacher.
“I think it’s important to know about the diversity and cultures of students,” she said.
Tiffany Sims said the conference would help her in the social work field.
“Being more aware of diversity can help me be more productive for clients,” she said. “Understanding diversity is beneficial to my career.”
OUS lecturer David Nelson had his human services technology students attend the conference and write a one-page report for credit.
“It’s important for them to learn about other cultures and how everything’s integrated,” he said. “We can all have differences, but still be very much alike.”
Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at Ohio University and conference planning committee member Dr. Shari Clarke recognized OUS Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion Robert Pleasant on behalf of the committee.
“His leadership is strategic, he is thoughtful, he is warm,” she said. “Somehow he makes us all just get it done and we thank him for this extraordinary day today.”
Pennington also praised the committee’s hard work.
“I think everybody is very happy,” she said. “One always wonders how the first event is going to turn out and I think this really exceeded everyone’s expectations. The committee has worked very hard and its hard work has paid off.”
The conference was a partnership among seven area institutions of higher education.