2024 Conference on Diversity, Equity, and Student Success

Plenary Speakers

Opening Plenary

Thursday, March 21, 2024 /

From Mirage to Oasis: The Role of Higher Education in Advancing Opportunity for All

  • Michael Baston

    Michael Baston

    President, Cuyahoga Community College

    Michael Baston is a nationally recognized thought leader in the field of community colleges, with a focus on shaping educational success, supporting workforce needs, championing diversity and equity, and developing executive leadership teams. Dr. Baston has worked closely with leadership teams at both two- and four-year colleges across the country, guiding them in integrating student success initiatives and advancing college completion and successful labor market entry. His contributions have been acknowledged through various prestigious awards, including the Terry O’Banion Gold Prize from the National Council on Student Development and the NAACP Community Leadership Award. Baston's expertise is sought after by numerous national boards and committees, including the Aspen Institute's Rising Presidents Fellowship for Community College Excellence and the advisory boards for the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) and the Century Foundation. He holds degrees from Iona University, Brooklyn Law School, and St. John Fisher University.

Closing Plenary

Saturday, March 23, 2024 /

Hip-Hop: A Culture that Unites Us in the Pursuit of Excellence

  • Toby Jenkins

    Toby S. Jenkins

    Associate Provost for Faculty Development & Professor of Higher Education, University of South Carolina

    Toby S. Jenkins is a renowned expert on cultural inclusion and belonging, with a distinguished career in higher education. She is the author of six influential books that explore cultural leadership, family involvement, and community engagement. Her book, "My Culture, My Color, My Self," has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Books for understanding race in America. She has also written “The Open Mic Night”, which was recognized for its contribution to curriculum studies. Additionally, she authored “The Invisible Backpack”, exploring culture as an educational asset for doctoral students. Her latest book, “The Hip-Hop Mindset," delves into success strategies within hip-hop culture for educators and professionals. Dr. Jenkins has held esteemed positions as a professor and higher education administrator at prestigious institutions such as the University of Maryland and Penn State University. She has been honored with numerous awards, including the 2022 Individual Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and the 2021 Outstanding Scholarship Award from the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity. With extensive international experience, Dr. Jenkins has conducted research, taught, and engaged in professional studies in over 35 countries. As a breast cancer survivor and lupus patient, she finds solace and inspiration in various forms of culture, such as art, music, and storytelling.