College Faculty Embraces Diversity
The temperature was barely above freezing in the early morning hours of March 1st. Puffs of frozen breath vapors trailed the dedicated College of Education faculty as they hurried across the street to the Baptist College Ministry. They were gathering for their second annual diversity forum – Re-embracing Diversity in Your Teaching, Research & Service.
The college's diversity committee, co-chaired by Dr. Julie Rotholz and Dr. Tambra Jackson organized this opportunity for faculty, graduate students, and staff to meet together to share recent initiatives and experiences regarding diversity. The purpose of the Diversity Forum was to create a safe space for interdisciplinary conversations on the broad topic of diversity and to showcase how the myriad definitions of diversity can be embraced through the college's teaching, research, and service.
Dr. Mike Seaman opened the forum and introduced Associate Professor Dr. Tambra Jackson within the college's Department of Instruction and Teacher Education. Dr. Jackson set the tone of the forum by conveying the connection between faculty governance and voice to the college's diversity efforts.
The four-hour forum included eight roundtable sessions that were led by presenters from each of the college's departments. Representing Educational Studies, Dr. Payal Shah addressed Analyzing US Students' International Experiences.
There were two roundtable discussions from the Educational Leadership and Policies Department – Dr. Julie Rotholz delved into Teaching Diversity in Higher Education while Dr. Diane Harwell examined religion, race, ethnicity as well as gender/or sexual orientation issues in Hearing Voices and Sharing in Conversations roundtable.
Faculty and graduate students from the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education facilitated four roundtables: Dr. Lucy Spence shared research on English Language Learners in South Carolina. Dr. Daniella Cook explored the importance of Engaging Dialogues: Preparing African American Teachers for Diverse Classrooms. Understanding Sexual Diversity and the Curriculum was given by Dr. Susan Schramm-Pate, Anne Witte, and Jennifer Daniel. Some People Do Things Different from Us: Exploring Personal and Global Cultures in a First Grade Classroom addressed by Dr. Pamela Jewett.
Whereas Jeremy Searson from Physical Education and Athletic Training focused on how The Diversifying of Athletic Training through Targeted Clinical Experience can be effective. There was also a display panel exhibit by Craig Kridel on the Museum of Education's exhibitions and programs that address issues of diversity and social justice.
These sessions met concurrently for over an hour and a half. Upon their conclusion, faculty was imbued with new perspectives to consider, constructive analysis to utilize and reinforced alliances. The college shines with leadership when focusing on diversity and how this sensitive subject is recognized and celebrated. The forum concluded with each program area discussing the college diversity plan – what it meant, how it is being implemented, and what remains to be done.