Strategies developed at Alcorn’s historic Diversity Summit

Strategies developed at Alcorn’s historic Diversity Summit

On April 28-29, 2013, Alcorn State University hosted the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Summit on HBCUs bringing together over 100 thought and action leaders to share best practices, build community, and chart the future of diversity work at these historic institutions.

Organized by Dr. Derek Greenfield, director of Educational Equity and Inclusion at Alcorn, the Summit featured powerful panel presentations, informative workshops, and inspiring keynote addresses by Alcorn’s 18th President M. Christopher Brown II, and the University’s Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence Myrlie Evers.

“The cornerstone of Alcorn’s work is to create a national model of what a public HBCU looks like,” said President Brown. He urged Summit participants to develop a public consensus around diversity and inclusion efforts. “Your campus must be responsive to issues of equity and inclusion. Invest the time and resources on a climate study.”

In her keynote address, Mylrie Evers talked about the role of HBCUs and their history of embracing all students. “Our legacy teaches us to always remember that we are somebody. It’s our responsibility to give back, we can never give back enough and pay back our HBCUs for what they have given us.” She added, “Now is the time to ask ourselves if we are doing the best we can do. Only strong, wise and determined leadership will allow us to move forward.”

Dr. Benjamin D. Reese Jr., president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE), and vice president and chief diversity officer at Duke University, shared that the goal of the Summit was to give the participants an opportunity to discuss what diversity really means for HBCUs, share experience and develop a strategy for the institutions’ leadership.

Samantha Master, undergraduate student at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, and an intern with the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., shared, “I am passionate about social justice, diversity and inclusion, and at the Summit, I gained ideas on how to create safe and equitable space for all students and move my HBCU forward.”

Enrique Lopezlina, lecturer in economics at Howard University, stated, “The Summit gave us an opportunity to network and exchange ideas on creating diverse classrooms thus developing a more effective learning environment for our students.”

Dr. Greenfield noted, “The success of the Summit once again demonstrates how Alcorn has truly taken the lead in terms of advancing the agenda of diversity and inclusion. We are so grateful for the participation of representatives from over 25 institutions.”

The Summit will continue as an annual program, with preliminary discussions occurring to move the event each year to a different HBCU.