Diversity Symposium Focuses on America’s State of Change
On September 9, Institute Diversity hosted the Seventh Annual Diversity Symposium, an all-day forum for robust discussions among faculty, staff, and students on issues tied to building and sustaining an inclusive campus community.
Keynote speaker Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, set the tone for the event by stating, “America is in a state of change. Embracing this change is what diversity in the 21st century is all about. Diversity is a value for this country; it isn’t limited to an office or a symposium.”
This “state of change” was explored by James H. Johnson, Jr., distinguished professor and director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the University of North Carolina, during the morning sessions of the Diversity Symposium. Johnson shared how demographic disruptions will impact higher education in the next 25 years, such as the growing population in the South; the shifting immigration-driven population; the approaching “Silver Tsunami” from changing life expectancy, declining fertility, and aging Baby Boomers; and the increasing rate of intermarriage.
“Our next generation of talent must be more diverse than the current generation,” said Johnson. “Institutions cannot afford to leave out anyone in the future. To anticipate these changing demographics, we must provide an alternative model of greater access and affordability.”
To conclude the morning sessions, ADVANCE Professors Mary Frank Fox, Pinar Keskinocak, Wing Suet Li, Dana Randall, Catherine Ross, and Beril Toktay discussed equity in faculty hiring, and Institute Diversity Associate Vice President Julie Ancis analyzed how unconscious thoughts influence behaviors at work.
“This event is important because we don’t pay enough attention to diversity issues in general,” said Ashok Goel, professor in the School of Interactive Computing. “Being a good citizen of the community means being inclusive and embracing diversity in all of its forms.”
During the Diversity Symposium Awards Luncheon, Morial addressed how to redefine civil rights in the 21st century through his “Three D’s of Diversity”:
- Defend democracy by pushing against the ideas of voter suppression (or voter self-suppression).
- Develop human capital by educating people to be self-sufficient and successful in this society.
- Demand jobs for all and economic opportunity for the next generation.
Prior to the keynote address, eight Diversity Champion Award winners were recognized for actively demonstrating and positively promoting the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Georgia Tech campus community. This year’s winners are Mary Lynn Realff (faculty co-winner), Stephen Ruffin (faculty co-winner), Madison Cario (staff co-winner), Matthew Hall (staff co-winner), Alex Berry (student co-winner), Andrea Welsh (student co-winner), Division of Student Life (unit co-winner), and School of Mathematics (unit co-winner).
Following the Diversity Symposium Awards Luncheon, faculty, staff, and students had the opportunity to attend afternoon sessions on LGBTQIA rights; sexual violence; or bullying, incivility, and lack of collegiality in the workplace and classroom.
“Thank you to the campus community members who participated in and contributed to the Diversity Symposium,” said Archie W. Ervin, vice president of Institute Diversity. “Events like these are important in helping us build an inclusive community where every human being is valued and respected—especially in light of recent discrimination issues.”
To learn more about the Diversity Symposium and/or view Johnson’s presentation on disruptive demographics, visit diversity.gatech.edu/seventh-annual-diversity-symposium.