February 2020 Update

  • Spring message from Paulette Granberry Russell

    Spring 2020

    The diversity of our campus is one reason Michigan State University is such a vibrant and exciting place to learn, work, and teach. These are exciting times for Michigan State--a time for recovery and looking towards the future. In the context of our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, President Stanley appointed a DEI Steering Committee that has begun its work that will result in new strategic initiatives that will guide the future direction of MSU in achieving its goal of being an inclusive campus community.

    Yet, there are times when our differences clash and uncomfortable moments result in hurt, confusion and depending on the gravity of an offense, outrage by the impacted individual or group. Outrage leads to protest, and protest can lead to constructive outcomes. After many years of advocacy by students, a Multicultural Center Feasibility Study is being conducted with students engaged as full partners in the process. Commitments to expand campus reflection rooms, all-gender restrooms, and gender-inclusive housing, and easier access to information on resources for undocumented students, and an expectation that all faculty, students and staff participate in DEI education and development are tangible positive outcomes. I think many will agree that these outcomes support in an expanded way the diversity that exists at MSU.

    After 22 years as MSU’s chief diversity officer (CDO), I will be transitioning from this role as Michigan State searches for a new vice president and CDO.  I will continue as senior advisor to the president for diversity and this spring, I will assume the presidency of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, the preeminent voice for inclusive excellence in higher education. I am proud of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and the staff who have worked tirelessly to support the mission and vision of MSU and our office. Through their efforts and the efforts of so many others in the various units across campus who bring their passion and commitment to DEI, a solid foundation exists for the work ahead.

    I look forward to the future, and while I acknowledge the work ahead, I do it with an optimism that is based upon an understanding that progress is inevitable and when we falter as an institution, there is a campus community that reminds us Spartans Will advance diversity, equity and build an inclusive community.

    Go Green! 

    Paulette Granberry Russell, J. D.

    Chief Diversity Officer & Senior Advisor to the President for Diversity

    Director, Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives

  • Exploring Race in a Cultural and Historical Context

    Failure to recognize and understand issues involving race and the historical context within the United States can lead to critical incidents that divide our collective community and undermine the mission of the institution to provide learning and growth opportunities for all who come to Michigan State University.

    A few weeks ago, Wharton Center staff and volunteers welcomed Dr. Benjamin Reese, an international speaker on race and bias and retired Vice President for Institutional Equity at Duke University, to deliver a workshop entitled, “Recognizing and Understanding Race in a Cultural Context”. Many participants shared that the points of history and reality of our past involving slavery and the lasting economic, emotional and social impact on the Black community offered during the two-day sessions was transformative. Several of the staff and volunteers in attendance remarked that we are rarely taught these important lessons in our formative education, and more concerning, this leads to an inability to understand as a society how our historical narrative shapes the experience of our fellow citizens today.  

    In addition to providing information to increase understanding about “racial terror”, structural racism in the US broadly and the consequences for individuals and communities, and bias (explicit and implicit) intent vs. impact,  Dr. Reese also reinforced strategies and skills to appropriately address situations when they arise in our personal and professional lives.

    As there have been numerous requests for continued learning and development opportunities, if you are interested in finding out more about what is available or have suggestions that we could assist in delivering or promoting, please contact us at inclusion@msu.edu.

  • Spring 2020 MSU Dialogues Update

    MSU Dialogues, Michigan State’s sustained intergroup dialogue program, engages students, faculty, and staff in deep, critical dialogue to increase awareness of our personal identities, build relationships across differences, and explore how we can work together toward greater equity and justice.

    We are currently in the fifth semester of holding dialogues with the MSU Community. A quick glance at this semester’s numbers include: 

    • 150+ students, faculty, and staff participating in a dialogue
    • 24 facilitators (18 students and 6 faculty/staff)
    • 14 student interns
    • 6 student dialogues (4 focused on race and 2 focused on gender)
    • 2 faculty/staff dialogues focused on race
    • 1 dialogue in partnership with Residential Education and Hospitality Services focused on race and identity conscious supervision.

    What cannot be captured in these numbers, though, are the important moments of learning and growth taking place within the dialogue groups each week. I am consistently inspired by the way each group forms relationships across difference, the way the participants explore how their identities influence their everyday lives, and how they collaborate toward creating more just, inclusive communities. In particular, in the wake of the racist, xenophobic, and additional acts of hate that have plagued MSU this academic year, the dialogues offer a space for participants to process through the painful events and take action toward creating the socially just change they want to see in the world. 

    Thank you to all who have decided to join the MSU Dialogues community this semester! We are grateful for all you are putting into this community and look forward to learning about your growth throughout this semester. If you are interested in participating in the future, you can fill out this form and we will be in touch with you mid-August.

    If you have any questions, please reach out to MSU Dialogues Coordinator, Jackie Heymann at heymannj@msu.edu.

  • Diverse Scholars Make Connections for Research at the DRN

    Teaming with interest, connections and activity the DRN has been on the move this year, enhancing successful programs and developing new efforts for the benefit of faculty of color and diversity scholars.

    Two recent efforts include the SHARE OUT, where several scholars provided a flash talk on their most recently engaged work for the benefit of new knowledge and interdisciplinary sharing and feedback and the annual Researcher’s Workshop. Dr. Kennedy, Dr. Ford, and Dr. Kim share work from the disciplines of criminal justice, human medicine and education to a fascinated audience of scholars for discussion and the generations of new ideas in the Share Out forum.

    The DRN Researcher’s Workshop marked its third annual event.   Scholars were able to consult with grants and statistical consultants as well as join panels discussing the most recent disparities issues in granting.  In another panel, senior scholars strategized for successful mid-later career productivity.  A new feature of this workshop this year was a set of topical tables where researchers and scholars could do deeper dives into a range of themes and participate in short term learning communities (such as R-Ladies of East Lansing). 

    The DRN Team is also excited about its new foray into fundraising, this year launching a Crowd Power campaign.  The DRN strives to serve the research and support needs of faculty of color with quality and innovation.

  • Transforming Theatre Ensemble

    Transforming Theatre Ensemble (TTE) uses theatrical sketches to provide an interactive learning experience that engages faculty, staff, student and community audiences in collaborative problem-solving. Using a variety of theatrical formats followed by interactive discussions led by a skilled facilitator, TTE encourages reflection and analysis of problematic attitudes and behaviors, as a step toward transformation.

    TTE performances help audiences to:

    • articulate the benefit of diversity and inclusion at MSU
    • recognize biased behaviors, attitudes, and communication
    • identify practices that are exclusive and tactics for making them inclusive
    • act as an agent of change in creating a more inclusive campus culture

    Request a Performance

    TTE can deliver a stand-alone workshop, but we also have the capacity for deeper collaboration. Artistic Coordinator Lynn Lammers will consult with you on your goals and learning objectives to determine how to create the productive and engaging experience you need.

    Contact Lynn Lammers at lammersl@pres.msu.edu or by calling 517-355-9002.