Harnessing the power of diversity: Inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Symposium planned for MLK Celebration Week

Harnessing the power of diversity: Inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Symposium planned for MLK Celebration Week

By Andy OberUniversity Communications
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Each day of MLK Celebration Week will focus on a University value.
Each day of MLK Celebration Week will focus on a University value.
Denise TrimbleSmith, project director with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Denise TrimbleSmith, project director with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Frederick W. Gooding Jr., author and associate professor at Texas Christian University, will speak at the symposium.
Frederick W. Gooding Jr., author and associate professor at Texas Christian University, will speak at the symposium.
Thomas Harris, associate athletics director for diversity, inclusion and employee engagement
Thomas Harris, associate athletics director for diversity, inclusion and employee engagement

The inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Symposium, happening next week, will be an opportunity for members of the campus community to highlight and strengthen their commitment to inclusion, one of the University's six core values.

The event is part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week, which includes a schedule of events and opportunities organized around inclusion and the five other values: integrity, compassion, exploration, adaptation and determination.

Denise TrimbleSmith, project director with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, along with her "symposium swim team," have put together what she hopes will be a crucial learning opportunity for faculty, staff and students.

The symposium, being held virtually Jan. 20-21, will feature speakers, breakout sessions and dialogues aimed at taking on critical issues and making sure participants can move beyond what she calls an "illusion of inclusion."

"I would hope this symposium is not just an opportunity for us to think and share, but also to create an atmosphere where people can turn issues they don't have knowledge on into areas of expertise," TimbleSmith said.

The event's theme – "Harnessing the power of diversity, every Wildcat, every day" – underscores the importance of recognizing the contributions that all communities bring to the table, she added.

The symposium will feature keynote speakers Maribel Alvarez, associate dean for community engagement in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and University folklorist, and Fredrick W. Gooding Jr., author and associate professor in the John V. Roach Honors College at Texas Christian University. Both days will also include workshops and learning lab sessions run by University leaders and other members of the campus community, including Liesl Folks, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs; Karen Francis-Begay, assistant vice provost for Native American initiatives; and Cheree Meeks, assistant dean for programs, diversity and inclusion in the W.A. Franke Honors College.

Sessions fall into six tracks:

  • Community Partnership and Coalition Building.
  • Inclusive Advising and Student Success.
  • Identity and Intersectionality.
  • Teaching and Learning.
  • Self-Care and Mindfulness.
  • Antiracism, Critical Race Theory and COVID.

"The symposium will not be a one-stop shop," TrimbleSmith said, "but it is a terrific start."

Thomas Harris, associate athletics director for diversity, inclusion and employee engagement, says the event is an opportunity for people to get out of their silos and share ideas and feedback on diversity and inclusion best practices with other units.

"In athletics, for example, we're working on a lot of LGBTQIA+ inclusion plans," Harris said. "We're getting ready for nonbinary and trans athletes. We want to hear from faculty and staff who work with these students and people who are doing research in this area to make sure we can avoid mishaps."

Those interested in attending are asked to register online. A follow-up email will provide a link to the Whova virtual conference platform app, which attendees can use to select sessions, learn about the speakers and presenters, and connect with others attending the symposium.

In addition to the symposium, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week will offer a full slate of events beginning Sunday and ending Jan. 23. Find more details below.

Jan. 16: Day of Exploration
1 p.m. | Keynote address: "MLK: A Dream Deferred?" | Fredrick W. Gooding Jr. will deliver a virtual address to kick off MLK Celebration Week. Registration is requested.

Jan. 17-23: Week of Compassion
Donation Drives | University offices and units on the Tucson campus are encouraged to hold donation drives to collect household, hygiene and food items for Youth On Their Own, which aims to support Pima County youth experiencing homelessness and help them graduate high school. See the online donation drive registration form for a list of needed items. Offices outside Tucson can choose charities in their area.

Jan. 18: Day of Integrity
9-10 a.m. | Interfaith Inclusion and Solidarity Service, University of Arizona Mall | This in-person service is being held in partnership with the University Religious Council.

Jan. 19: Day of Adaptation
Social Media Takeover | Share how diversity, inclusion and King's legacy have shaped your life using #UArizonaMLK and #UADiversity.

Jan. 20: Day of Inclusion
8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. | Diversity and Inclusion Symposium, Day 1 | Maribel Alvarez, associate dean for community engagement in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and University folklorist, will give a keynote address. Register online.

Jan. 21: Day of Determination
8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. | Diversity and Inclusion Symposium, Day 2 | Frederick W. Gooding Jr., author and associate professor in the John V. Roach Honors College at Texas Christian University, will give a keynote address. Register online.

The Inclusive Excellence Awards, originally scheduled to be presented at the Diversity and Inclusion Symposium, will be presented at a later date.

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