Diversity, Learning, and Student Success 2016: Conference Highlights

Conference sessions will examine how to incentivize collaborative action and higher levels of integrated activity across campus sectors and institutions to advance student success and build democratic capacity.  Conference plenaries will provide research, theory, and context for the problem solving and strategic planning sessions that follow and that will address moving from deficit-minded to asset-based designs for high-quality student learning. Participants will experience the power of narrative to engage difficult dialogues and address critical challenges in building inclusive learning environments through four perspectives:  

  • Challenging Mindsets to Advance Diversity, High-Quality Learning, and Student Success
  • Shifting Paradigms across the Curriculum 
  • Emerging Innovations and the Campus Experience
  • Developing Guided Learning Pathways to Enhance Student Success

Thursday, March 17, 7:00 p.m. 

Keynote Address

The Power of Narrative: Understanding Self, Connecting Across Difference

Caleen Sinnette Jennings, Professor of Theatre and former Chair of the Department of Performing Arts, Jodi Beder, composer/cellist and member of Dovetail Ensemble, Mary Clark, Professor of Law, Dean of Academic Affairs, and Senior Vice Provost, and Fanta Aw, Assistant Vice President of Campus Life and Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer in the School of International Service—all of American University

How can story-telling and personal narratives deepen connections between our varied histories and enable us to engage in "courageous conversations" about diversity, student learning, and success?  Professor Jennings and Dr. Beder will perform and discuss the origins of "Hands Up," a poem about race. Vice Provost Clark and Dr. Aw will join them to discuss successful interventions that have engaged faculty and students in difficult dialogues and facilitated connections across differences in the classroom, campus, and community.

Friday, March 18, 7:30–9:00 a.m.

Posters and Continental Breakfast

Friday, March 18, 9:15 – 10:30 a.m.

Plenary and Diversity Café

Creating the Inclusive Campus:  Advancing High-Quality Learning for All Students

William T. Lewis, Sr., Principal, Dr. William T. Lewis and Associates; and Tia Brown McNair, Vice President, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, AAC&U

The plenary-diversity café will engage participants in small group discussions addressing critical questions about how we can develop equity-focused, student-centered learning frameworks, guided-learning pathways, and campus-based change agendas.  Dr. Lewis will frame the discussion with insights from his "Narrative of the Inclusive 21st Century Academy" regarding the power of community-building in fostering leadership to address the intersections of inclusion, diversity, equity, and high-quality learning for all.  Campus practitioners will lead small group discussions to consider how these frameworks and insights can shift existing campus paradigms and help build more inclusive campuses. 

Saturday, March 19, 11:15 a.m.  


Engaging LGBTQ Students, Faculty, and Studies: Building Democratic Capacity and Academic Success

Frank D. Golom, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Loyola University of Maryland

How can campuses engage LGBTQ students and faculty to transcend marginalization and intolerance? How can our curricula explore and accept difference as a core value in a democratic society and in effective educational environments? Dr. Golom will examine what campuses can do to shift their thinking, practices, and cultures to promote the inclusion and academic achievement of all students, thus building the intellectual capacity and empathy necessary to engage diversity issues in a 21st-century liberal education.