Thursday, September 4, 2008

UGA Gears Up for Second Annual Diversity Days Celebration: Kickoff Celebration Set for Sept. 8

The University of Georgia’s Office of Institutional Diversity is gearing up for its second annual Embracing Diversity celebration, an institution-wide series of events to highlight the connections among all members of the UGA campus.

This year’s theme is “Embracing Diversity: Planting the Seed.” It reflects the OID’s goal of nurturing inclusion in every campus department and moving beyond race and gender, said Cheryl Dozier, associate provost and chief diversity officer.

“Last year we recognized that there was a need for us to set the tone of campus-wide events. There have always been individual events within colleges and departments, but we wanted something to say that, from an institutional perspective, this is important,” Dozier said. “We feel that we want every unit on campus to begin to plant the seed and start recognizing that diversity is everybody’s business.”

The program comes as the university admitted the most diverse class in its history, with 21 percent of its new freshman class self-identifying as other than Caucasian.

The program begins with a Kickoff Celebration at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 8 in the Chapel. The free event includes the inaugural Embracing Diversity Awards, which recognize outstanding accomplishments of individuals, groups and teams who contribute to inclusion and diversity, as well as the awarding of the Black Alumni and Diversity Scholarships.

It also features speakers from across campus and the community. Dawn Bennett-Alexander, associate professor of employment, law and legal studies, will deliver the “Embracing Diversity” address; Maritza Soto Keen, director of the Latino Initiative at UGA, will speak on “A Salute to Hispanic Heritage Month, and Cortez Wright of Lambda Alliance will talk about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month. In addition, the Rev. Renee DuBose of the Our Hope Metropolitan Community Church in Athens will deliver “Words of Inspiration.”

“We also are excited to have UGA Athletic Director Damon Evans, who is a key supporter of diversity initiatives, speak and present the Diversity Scholarships,” said Mimi Sodhi, assistant provost at OID.

Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend the free event, which is meant to help people take notice of the diversity around them and help make everyone feel welcome at UGA, Dozier said.

“It should, hopefully, ring that bell that people need to do something different in their departments,” Dozier said. “It can be as simple as adding religious holidays to the departmental calendar or Web site or adding diversity pictures in the lobby or computer lab, whatever it is that will help all our students, faculty and staff feel that this is their university and we go that extra step to make them feel included.”

Other events include the New Women Faculty Reception on Sept. 5, Black Faculty and Staff Organization’s scholarship luncheon on Sept. 9, and “Living as Diverse People of Justice in a Time of Religious Intolerance,” a seminar sponsored by the College of Education Dean’s Council on Diversity on Sept. 10. The College of Education also will hold its annual Fall Focus on Diversity from 3–5 p.m. on Sept. 18 in Aderhold Hall.

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