Contact: Zack Plair
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Three leaders in business and government will be featured speakers next week at Mississippi State’s first combined Men and Women of Color Summit.
Taking place Thursday and Friday [Aug. 27 and 28], the summit is organized by the university’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. More than 700 are preregistered. Organizers said that preregistration has closed, but participants still may register at the door.
“Reframing the Dialogue around Men and Women of Color: Academic Success in Higher Education” is the theme for the free event at the new Mill at MSU Conference Center on Russell Street.
Speaking Friday morning [the 28th] will be Albert J. Williams, an MSU alumnus now president of the Chevron Pipe Line Co., and La Doris Harris, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. Lori Harper, vice president for supply chain management with Ingalls Shipbuilding, will address that day’s luncheon.
The Friday schedule gets underway at 8 a.m. with greetings by MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Jerry Gilbert, provost and executive vice president.
“At Mississippi State, we consider diversity both a point of pride and a reason for our success as an institution,” said Cedric Gathings, interim assistant vice president for multicultural affairs. “Events like the Men and Women of Color Summit expose our students of color to people who once were in their shoes and made the most of their opportunities.”
Gathings predicted participating students “will be inspired by the wisdom and success stories of our presenters.”
Summit chair NaToya Sanders said the program is specifically designed to engage minority students with faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and others interested in dialogue about critical issues related to academic and professional success.
Sanders, OIDI’s recruitment, retention and program specialist, said activities begin at 6 p.m. Thursday [the 27th] with an Empowerment Dinner, also at the new conference center.
Friday workshops and discussion panels will address issues ranging from higher academic achievement, time management and health to strategies and solutions for minorities dealing with law enforcement.
Sanders said her office began sponsoring separate summits for men and women of color in 2012 after campus enrollment statistics indicated low retention rates among minority students. Support for the events are provided by offices of the President and Provost.
As she explained, a snow threat earlier this year forced cancellation of the women’s summit and resulted in its rescheduling with the men’s program planned for this month.
Sanders expressed excitement at the prospect of witnessing the dynamic created by having both male and female perspectives represented at a single gathering.
“We hope the students leave feeling empowered,” Sanders said. “I tell students all the time, ‘I’m inspired by the speakers, so I know you will be.’”
During Thursday’s dinner, MSU also will recognize six alumni and faculty for high achievements in leadership, innovation, public service and contributions to a better society. The honorees include Linda Cornelious, Marilyn Crouther, Sebetha Jenkins, Albert J. Williams, Wanda Williams and Camille Scales Young.
For more information on the OIDI, visit www.oidi.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.