Published April 9, 2018
UB’s first inclusive excellence summit will encourage members of the campus community to come together, explore new ways to increase diversity, equity and inclusion at UB, and provide participants with opportunities to share ideas and best practices.
The summit, “Living our Commitment,” will be held May 3 and 4 on the UB North Campus. Free of charge and open to all members of the UB community, it is sponsored by the Office of Inclusive Excellence.
“This inaugural summit is designed to create an environment where everyone can ask questions and learn about UB’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” says Despina Stratigakos, professor in the School of Architecture and Planning and interim vice provost for inclusive excellence.
“The summit will be broad-based, for the wider UB community,” Stratigakos says. “We welcome faculty, staff and students.
“We especially want to encourage anyone who may be hesitant about discussing these types of issues, but who also wishes to learn. Say, a faculty member who might be wondering, ‘How does inclusion and diversity fit in with my course or curriculum?’”
Stratigakos says an important goal of the summit is to bring people together to share experiences, strategies and best practices. “Some examples might be discussing the importance of presenting differing perspectives. Others might ask, ‘Where are we falling short?’ and ‘How can we foster change?’”
On both days, the summit will offer a wide range of presentation sessions and workshops, including, “Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in the Field of Medicine,” “Inclusive Design of Residential Life Facilities: A Comparison of Greiner and Fargo Halls,” “A Strength-Based Approach to Diversity” and “An Introduction to Web Accessibility.”
Amy Reynolds, associate professor in the Graduate School of Education and chair of the summit’s planning committee, says the committee was pleased with the number and variety of workshops and presentations that were submitted by faculty, staff and students. “These also work to help us bring out the many people who are doing transformative and inclusive things across campus right now,” she says.
Reynolds says adopting inclusive excellence requires the UB community to be honest and clear about identifying challenges and issues related to diversity and inclusion, so we can come together as a campus community to address them.
“In an increasingly polarized political climate, we need the skills to navigate social and professional relationships across differences,” she says. “Now, more than ever, there is a need for healthy, robust discussions with people who hold beliefs that may differ from our own.
“Building relationships that are necessary to have these sort of discussions is critical,” Reynolds adds, “because without community there will be no sustainability in these matters.”
“One of the challenges,” Stratigakos notes, “is to build the structure that will enable this to occur, and ultimately work to retain students, faculty and staff. To change attitudes, we will need to build and maintain deep structures across campus.”
Moreover, the summit is a source of knowledge and a source of energy, she says.
“Working alone, you can feel isolated. Working together, in groups, is restorative and regenerative, and can bring about a climate that is supportive for all members of the UB community.”
More details about the summit and registration information can be found online.