STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma State University is working to create community progress through constructive conversations about diversity and inclusion.
OSU launched the Community Advancing Conversations series in June, and the series’ second installment aims to encourage the OSU community to engage in conversations on diversity and inclusion, according to an OSU news release.
“Not being racist isn’t enough,” Ken Eastman, dean of Spears School of Business, told a panel of Oklahoma State University deans and academic leaders Thursday. “We need to actively work to end racism.”
Dr. Jason Kirksey, OSU vice president of Institutional Diversity and chief diversity officer, led the panel on Thursday. Panelists reflected upon their personal and professional experiences, and discussed how those experiences shaped their perspective on diversity and inclusion.
A message has added power when it comes from the top, said Dr. Paul Tikalsky, dean of the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology. Panelists called upon campus leaders to identify issues of racism and tackle them head-on, according to the news release.
OSU is focused on creating opportunities that will give students a feeling of belonging, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Hallenbeck.
Hallenbeck said helping people understand that each person’s experience is different is a key part of creating those opportunities.
OSU has made strides in fostering a culture of inclusiveness on its campus, the news release states.
The university has had an 88 percent increase in faculty of color in its classrooms since 2010, according to the news release.
“The university remains committed to hiring more people of color for faculty, staff and board positions. OSU also has reaffirmed its commitment to continuing the conversation with alumni to improve diversity and inclusion and its partnership with representatives of the OSU Black Alumni Association,” the news release states.
Also, OSU requires that all faculty, staff and students participate in diversity and inclusion workshops, Kirksey said during the panel.
‘Insight Into Diversity’ magazine has honored OSU eight straight years for Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, according to the news release.
“OSU is one of just eight schools in the nation — the only institution in Oklahoma — to receive this honor for eight straight years,” the news release states.
The panel discussed how OSU can bring about further progress toward fostering a culture of diversity and inclusiveness.
Dr. Rebecca Brienen, associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said the removal of former governor and documented racist William H. Murray’s name from campus was a good step.
But Brienen said more challenges remain at OSU and beyond.
”This has been a tumultuous summer. It’s exposed racism, discrimination and violence in this country, and it’s a time of reckoning,” she said.
Having conversations about racism, the need for diversity and what can be done to become more inclusive are important steps toward progress, Kirksey said.
“The idea of this series was that it would become the jumping-off point and serve as the impetus for larger and longer and sustained conversations as we continue to grow and evolve in our commitment to sustaining, enriching and fortifying our culture of inclusion across Oklahoma State University as a whole,” he said.
Click here to watch Thursday’s Community Advancing Conversations panel discussion.
The following OSU administrators participated in the panel:
• Dr. Tom Coon, Vice President and Dean, Ferguson College of Agriculture (FCA)
• Dr. Ken Eastman, Dean, Spears school of Business (SSB)
• Dr. Pamela Fry, President, OSU-Tulsa
• Dr. Keith Garbutt, Dean, OSU Honors College
• Dr. Doug Hallenbeck, Vice President, Student Affairs
• Dr. Rebecca Brienen, Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences (CAS)
• Dr. Carlos Risco, Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM)
• Dr. Adrienne Sanogo, Associate Dean, College of Education & Human Sciences (EHS)
• Dr. Kenneth Sewell, Vice President, Office of Research (VPR)
• Dr. Kayse Shrum, President, OSU Center for Health Sciences; Dean, OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
• Dr. Paul Tikalsky, Dean, College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology (CEAT)
Sheila Johnson, Dean, OSU Library
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