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A little less than a year ago, members from the Diversity Committee at the Geauga Campus came together under new leadership. Dr. Jeanne Marie Stumpf-Carome envisioned a new direction with her belief that diversity is such an all-encompassing topic and every person should have an opportunity to contribute and celebrate. Her belief was that the title “committee” limits participation and stifles valuable contribution.
As a result, the Diversity Committee changed its name to the Working Group for Diversity.
This creates an atmosphere of inclusion. Faculty, staff and students have the ability to contribute and participate as often as they would like, allowing for interesting and informative topics to flow throughout the year.
The group discussed ways to be more interactive as well as the types of diversity topics that would be interesting to students and the general community, who are often invited to participate in the lunch and learn programs. Spring semester was a trial run for the Working Group. To grab the students’ attention, a stand-alone board with topical questions was created at each campus site. It was a way for students to be able to freely express their opinions, thoughts and ideas. “We wanted a way to connect with more than just a lunchtime presentation, using our senses and creating a thought provoking atmosphere” said Stumpf-Carome. “That’s the university’s role –to think beyond what we already know; to hear all sides; to grasp new meaning and a greater understanding of each other and the world around us.”
The group honored Black and Women’s History months this past year with some interesting speakers and topics that included a panel presentation with Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed.
The group has also developed a working relationship with some of the museums in the Cleveland region. For example, English professor Molly Mokros connected her students to early forms of communication with the Art to Go program through the Cleveland Museum of Art. Students had the opportunity to handle artifacts that dated as far back as 3500 B.C. Special gloves and handling instructions were given to the students as the presenter explained how language has evolved over time.
This year the plan is to widen the reach of diversity topics with speakers such as Alan Baltis presenting, “Truth, Justice, & the American Way: How Comic Books Reflect & Inspire Diversity in the 21st Century,” on October 26 and Kimberlee Medicine Horn Jackson’s presentation on her family’s experience with the “Native American Boarding School Era.”
The mission of this group is evolving over time: “It seems to be the right direction, creating opportunities that would have been missed in a closed committee,” said Stumpf-Carome. “People in the campus community, as well as in the area we serve, are beginning to approach us with fantastic ideas for future presentations.”