As society has become more diverse, it’s essential that we all strive for greater cross-cultural competency. And our universities are doing just that. In a very real sense, these campuses can be microcosms of society that serve as examples of how communication and engagement can help to create a rich and inclusive environment for learning.
Toward that goal, faculty, staff, and students from our 14 universities came together last week for the ninth State System Summit, which was held this year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). I was honored to offer remarks at the Summit, which was appropriately titled, “Rising to the Challenge: Making Inclusion Matter.”
Sessions such as “Pursuing Faculty Diversity” and “The Cost of Integration” allowed attendees to think critically about racial and gender equity, while sessions on campus disability inclusion at IUP and a transfer learning community pilot at West Chester showcased some of the strong work our universities are doing to provide opportunities to all of the populations we serve.
We’ve long recognized the importance of social equity and have leaders on university campuses and in my office to ensure dialogue continues with faculty, staff, and students. As Dr. Pablo Mendoza, IUP’s assistant to the president for social equity, said, “Opportunities like this make the System stronger…we become more united because we learn what our colleagues are doing across the System and around the country.”
I couldn’t end without mentioning the tremendous support from students during this year’s summit. The student poster session was very well done—showcasing research-based engagements between students and faculty from across the System. Students from the IUP Department of Theater performed We are Proud to Present, which reminded everyone of the need to develop cross-cultural communication skills. Also, the Voices of Joy choir shared their talents at the welcome reception.
Our diversity makes us stronger, and important events such as this foster the kind of dialogue and discovery that help unite us.