Category: diversity

Transgender Awareness Week


The transgender community is an important constituency that helps inform institutional diversity efforts on campus - not unlike many other groups on campus. Where they differ significantly from other groups, however, is the threat of violence that transgender individuals face on a far too consistent basis. To bring added attention to this situation, the University of Georgia Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center will observe Transgender Awareness Week with several events Nov. 18-20:

Transgender activist Luna Merbruja will conduct a workshop titled "Liberation From The Margins: How To Fight Racial, Gender, and Queer Violence" on Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. in Room 141 of the Tate Student Center. The workshop will focus on the struggles and violence that queer, transgender and/or people of color face in their homes, workplaces and intimate relationships.

Participants will be given an opportunity to share their experiences of survival, resistance and strategies to address violence, as well as skill sharing to create communities that support one another.

Merbruja will deliver a keynote monologue at 6:30 p.m. in Room B2 of the main library. The performance will be dedicated to the memory of activist Sylvia Rivera and other transgender women of color who fought for liberation.

The performance will illustrate how four decades of resilience has created a platform for queer and transgender liberation to permeate mainstream culture, in which there are visible queer and transgender people of color on news channels, in network series, in magazines and on the New York Times Best Seller list.

See the link for information on more events this week. The LGBT Resource Center does important work in our campus community and the Franklin College supports all efforts to make our community more inclusive. Take advantage of some of these wonderful opportunities this week to learn, acknowledge and celebrate.

Thomas appointed Associate Dean


thomaskecia.jpgCongratulations to professor Kecia Thomas, who has been appointed associate dean for leadership development and diversity in the Franklin College:

A professor of industrial/organizational psychology in the department of psychology, Thomas has served on the UGA faculty since 1993.

"As associate dean, Dr. Thomas will have a portfolio that is well-aligned with her academic and professional expertise as an industrial/organizational psychologist who is an award-winning graduate mentor and instructor, an internationally recognized scientist/practitioner in the psychology of workplace diversity and a certified executive coach," said Alan T. Dorsey, dean of the Franklin College. "Given her scholarship, dedication to the college and to the university, and her extensive leadership experience, I am pleased to have Dr. Thomas serve in this important role."

Thomas has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, one textbook and four edited volumes. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as by school districts, nonprofits and other national organizations.

One of the brightest stars at UGA, known for her scholarship as well as her ability to lead both her peers and our students, Thomas' combination of skills make for a dynamic addition to the university administration. The institutional challenges addressed as diversity issues, present at every university and college in America, represent a particular and extraordinary responsibility. It is here that Dr. Thomas has and will continue to provide important direction and leadership. We are lucky to have her on our team. Great, key appointment for Franklin College, and because of its centrality on campus, for UGA.

International student associations


signers GLobeDid you now there are 37 international student associations on campus? From the the Russian Student Association to the Caribbean Student Association, the Asian American Student Association, the Brazilian Student Association and the Japan Club, many on-campus efforts flow into the creation of global citizens:

Selective admissions


Corinthian capitals.jpgHistory professor Stephen Mihm has a new column at on the origins of selective admissions processes to elite American colleges and universities, particulalry the promotion of geographical diversity:

the number of top-achieving high school seniors who made the cut at the most elite universities reached record lows this year. Stanford, for example, only admitted 5 percent of applicants, the fewest in its history; other top institutions reported similar numbers.

This may look like meritocracy reaching its ultimate rarefaction, yet the motives that led top colleges and universities to introduce highly selective admissions a century ago were far from lofty. The aim was to keep out one group in particular: Jews.

Until the turn of the last century, there was no such thing as “selective admissions,” even at the top universities. If students could pass an entrance exam, or belonged to the right family, they were in. There was no dossier, no need to show that you were “well-rounded.”

Nor was there any pretense of seeking diversity. Ivy League schools in the early 19th century were remarkably homogenous. The standard class at Harvard, for example, contained a staggering number of white Protestants drawn from elite families in Massachusetts.

Difficult for a practice with such specious origins to ever really redeem itself. And now, as Mihm explains, selective admissions has been folded into a highly elaborate process that raises serious questions about the future of American society. Where do we go from here? These are some of the real challenges facing American higher education. On verra, as they say. Honest take on a tough subject by Mihm.

African American Choral Ensemble: 25 Years


A special concert upcoming:

The University of Georgia African American Choral Ensemble will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a reunion concert April 12 at 7 p.m. in Hodgson Concert Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.


"There is a lot to celebrate at this concert," said Gregory Broughton, the ensemble's director and associate professor of music in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music. "Some outstanding leaders and musicians have come out of this group."

UGA students originally founded the African American Choral Ensemble in 1972 as the Pamoja Singers, named after a Swahili word for "together." Two years later, the program spawned the Pamoja Dance Company, a student organization that celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Our campus and university has come a long way in terms of building a diverse student body over the last quarter century. There remains a long way to go to open up more opportunities across a broader spectrum of Georgia and American society for people of color, of various religious faiths, of different sexual orientations. But it what we do and who we are as a country, and nowhere is this more telling than our arts traditions, established as well as new. The African American Choral Ensemble is a great tradition at UGA and we are proud to celebrate this wonderful anniversary.

Franklin Visiting Scholar: Jennifer Fluri


fluri exteriorThe Franklin College Office of Inclusion and Diversity Leadership brings to campus visiting feminist political geographer Jennifer Fluri from Dartmouth to give an important talk on gender, security and violence in south and southwest Asia:

Fluri, an associate professor of geography and chair of the women's and gender studies program at Dartmouth College, will discuss "The Beautiful ‘Other:' A Critical Examination of ‘Western' Representations of Afghan Corporeal Modernity."


Fluri's research focuses on the geography, politics and economics of gender, security and violence in conflict and post-conflict societies. Her lecture will look at the role of the female body, gender and the Western ideal of beauty during and after the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. Fluri examines how the female body is used to reconstruct new forms of political meaning, social value and economic opportunities in post-conflict Afghanistan.

"Gender, security and violence are tightly linked in post-conflict societies, such as those in southwest Asia," said Amy Trauger, an assistant professor of geography and Fluri's host during her visit. "International aid, popular representations of Afghan women and capitalism work together to create a post-conflict nationalism that may not empower the most vulnerable populations. Dr. Fluri will share some new insights from her research in these areas."

March 17 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 214 of the Zell B. Miller Learning Center. Free, open to the public and not to be missed.

Franklin Visiting Scholar: Diversity in STEM Education


Mike SummersUGA welcomes Michael Summers, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland, to present a public lecture promoting STEM education among minority students on Jan. 30 at 2:30 p.m. in Masters Hall at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. Summers' lecture - and separate presentation on his research - is sponsored by the Franklin Visiting Scholars Program:

Summers' STEM lecture is titled, "The Meyerhoff Scholars: Successful Programs for Preparing a Diverse STEM Workforce." The Meyerhoff Scholars Program, a scholarship support program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County started in 1989, provides financial assistance, mentoring, advising, and research experience to African American male undergraduate students committed to obtaining Ph.D. degrees in math, science, and engineering.

"This lecture will appeal to students contemplating a career in science, technology, engineering or math; faculty involved in teaching STEM subjects, faculty and administrators creating infrastructure to support diversity in STEM education; and anyone with an interest in partnering with the Meyerhoff Program," said Jim Prestegard, Eminent Scholar Professor in the department of chemistry and host for Summers' visit to UGA.

Image: Michael Summers, courtesy of the HHMI at UMBC.

Learning About Islam in America


421px-Muhammad_Ali_Avenue_Newark,_NJ.jpgThe Office of Institutional Diversity has organized an important discussion on Islam in America for Friday, Oct. 18, part of OID's Dialogues in Diversity lunchtime series. Integrating Bias and Emotion into Learning about Islam in America will be led by associate professor in the department of religion Alan Godlas:

Discourse about Islam in America evokes strong feelings and often conflicts with individual and collective biases. Rather than excluding such emotions and biases from cultural diversity learning, these emotions and biases can be utilized as rich resources on which to build a more scientific, humanistic, and emotionally intelligent learning environment. This dialogue will provide an opportunity for faculty and staff to discuss strategies for exploring worldviews and emotionally charged issues that may involve or conflict with biases.

Lunch will be provided and the series is free, but registration is required. rsvp to to make sure you are a part of this event. Too often we might be swayed in the direction of fear toward our fellow citizens, when our cultural diversity is actually among our greatest strengths. Listen, learn, take part in this opportunity to broaden your understanding.

Friday, October 18, 2013
12:00pm to 1:30pm
Tate Student Center – Reception Hall

Image: corner of Muhammad Ali Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther KIng, Jr., Boulevard in Newark, NJ, via Creative Commons attribution.


Hispanic Heritage Month


1928 The Dancing from Tehuantepec paintingIn 1968, President Lyndon Johnson established Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize and celebrate the cultures of Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and Spanish-speaking regions and countries of Central and South America. The week long event was expanded to 30 days in 1988 by President Reagan and National Hispanic Heritage Month is now celebrated annually from September 15- October 15. UGA will present events throughout the month the highlight the rich culture that forms such an important part of the vibrant American fabric:

Sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, an area studies unit of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the month-long celebration held nationally from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 honors the contributions of Hispanic-Americans in the U.S. while highlighting the diverse heritage and cultures of Latin America.

The celebration will begin with the annual LACSI Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta on Sept. 13 from 3-6 p.m. in the LACSI office at 290 S. Hull St. The fiesta will include live music performed by the Athens Tango Project, Aztec dance and music performed by Chicahua Yolotli, martial art demonstration by Capoeira and traditional Brazilian food.

The list of activities is detailed at the link. Take advantage of these wonderful opportunities to enjoy and celebrate the food, language, music and art of Central and South America.

Image: Diego Rivera Dance in Tehuantepec (Baile in Tehuantepec), 1928.

Defining the mix


Unity_in_Diversity facesDiversity on campus can be construed as a conundrum, wrapped around an enigma, especially when we approve the goals but are not quite convinced about the means to achieve them. Absent a clear acceptance of the policies to promote ethnic, socio-economic and/or geographical diversity among the student population, the goals and benefits thereof remain murky and mired in controversy.