To promote unity and diversity and inspire new leaders who are committed to both, the University of Phoenix (UOPX) is kicking off a free webinar series this week for the general public through its Office of Educational Equity.
These live forums are meant to create a space to have “crucial conversations” to bring about real change, said Saray Lopez, director of student diversity and inclusion for the office.
“The reason we want to make these conversations so diverse is because our students are truly diverse. We have more than 56 percent minority students and our students work across different industries so we want to look at how we are serving these students, how we are having these conversations, and how we are educating not only our students and our alumni but our community to actively contribute to a culturally complex society,” Lopez said.
As one of the largest for-profit universities in the United States, the Phoenix-based UOPX has a massive network of alliances with professional organizations, associations, councils, commissions, school districts and alumni to affect leadership thought and action.
“We’re bringing together key individuals that are making a great impact in different spaces that would not technically come together otherwise, to engage in crucial conversations and discuss topics affecting our communities, industries and society at large,” Lopez said.
Business involvement encouraged
Ultimately, the goal of the new monthly webinars is to improve equity and inclusion from the classroom to the boardroom, said Lopez, who has been a force for diversity and inclusion in Arizona.
Lopez earned the 2019 Inclusive Leader Award by the Diversity Leadership Alliance in Phoenix for her work in building stronger relationships between the university and regional community groups, chambers of commerce and employers.
A holistic approach is what works best, she said. Corporate involvement is a key component. Lopez hopes the webinars can inspire employers and organizations to improve diversity through actions in their day-to-day practices, hiring procedures, and approaches to fostering an inclusive culture “because it impacts our key stakeholders which are our students.”
Panelists are global leaders in equity and organizational change
The first webinar, entitled: Fostering Unity while Addressing Inequities, is Thursday, June 25 at 11 a.m. and will feature international experts on diversity.
Among the speakers are Dr. Shawn C. Todd-Boone, of UOPX who has received international recognition for his research and work in community building, community policing, and violence prevention, and Jim Massey, a globally recognized expert on diversity and inclusion and organizational change.
Other panelists are Dr. Linda Groomes Walton, an expert on diversity management who founded Achieving My Purpose, Inc., of Scottsdale, that supports women to discover their life’s purpose; and Dr. Jeff McGee, founder and CEO of Cross-Cultural Dynamics in Mesa that provides diversity and cultural training for companies and organizations.
The moderator is Dr. Jamal Watson, editor-at-large at Diverse: Issues In Higher Education and professor and director of graduate studies for the Strategic Communication and Public Relations program at Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Topics of discussion during the first webinar will be:
· Systemic racism
· The role of higher education
· Allyship and advocacy
· Leading inclusively in times of crisis
· Equity and social justice
To register for the free webinar, go to: Fostering Unity while Addressing Inequities.
Public input wanted
The university also is seeking input from the public about topics it wants to be educated on in the monthly webinars, said Tondra Richardson, director of student diversity and inclusion for the Office of Educational Equity.
“We’re tying the webinar series to what’s going on in our society to provide a means of education for our students, faculty, other DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) practitioners and the general public,” Richardson said. “We’ve designed this around feedback we have received regarding what resources and education people are seeking and we’re pulling leaders both from within the university and other industries to bring that knowledge.”
Anyone interested in sharing a topic they would like to learn more can send an email to: [email protected].