History of UW-Whitewater’s Campus Diversity Forum

The first Campus Diversity Forum, May 4, 2010, was the vision of a campus-wide committee tasked with administering the Campus Climate Survey and implementing Inclusive Excellence initiatives on campus.  The Climate Survey was facilitated by UW-System and administered at UW-Whitewater in Fall 2009.  The half-day forum included a formal report on the survey by Sue Rankin of Rankin & Associates Consulting, a listening session facilitated by the campus’s Diversity Leadership Committee, and a closing session led by Regent Jose Vasquez, UW System Board of Regents, and Lisa Beckstrand, Academic Planner & Inclusivity Initiative Director at UW System.  


 In 2011, the forum received its current name—the Campus Diversity Forum—and was a two-day event, October 20-21.  It featured a keynote address, Closing the Achievement Gap, by Dr. William Guillory, President and CEO of Innovations International Inc.  The second day operated as a mini-conference with several breakout sessions on various aspects of campus diversity and Inclusive Excellence and a plenary session titled Perspectives on Pathways: Vehicle for Closing the Achievement Gap facilitated by then Dean of Arts and Communications Mark McPhail and Marijuana Sawyer, Student Services Coordinator for the College of Education and Professional Studies.  



The third Campus Diversity Forum was hosted by the College of Arts and Communications on September 27-28, 2012.   By this time, the four Colleges and the Division of Student Affairs agreed to take turns hosting the forum.  Titled Freedom Summer, the forum brought seven activists of the Freedom Summer Project of 1964 to the UW-Whitewater campus.  In response to poll taxes, voter ID laws and threats of lynching that prevented people of color in Mississippi from exercising their right to vote, the Freedom Summer participants traveled to the Magnolia State to register African American voters.  The activists who changed U.S. history as young people nearly fifty years earlier educated and inspired our current generation of UW-W students with their stories of courage and dedication to the cause of Civil Rights. 

On November 7-8, 2013, the College of Education and Professional Studies hosted the fourth annual Campus Diversity Forum.  This forum brought to campus seven activists, educators, artists, and documentarians who served at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.  Fifty years later, these seven Civil Rights workers continue to make a difference by fighting for justice in race, gender, and LGBTQ equality.  This forum included classroom visits by the seven presenters, a Crossman Gallery Reception showcasing the photographs of two of the forum participants, Cathy Cade and Matt Herron, and a theatrical production, It Gets Better, sponsored by the Young Auditorium. 

On November 3-6, 2014, the College of Business and Economics hosted the fifth annual Campus Diversity Forum.  With the theme, Women in Business, COBE’s Diversity Forum featured two keynote speakers, Marilyn Johnson, former vice president of Market Development at IBM, and Deborah Spar, the current president of Barnard College.  Another highlight was Different Shades of Purple, a show featuring COBE’s faculty and students that would allow “a time to learn new things about each other and celebrate our differences!”  The forum culminated in a panel of COBE students who shared and reflected on “their ideas, experiences and needs regarding diversity and multicultural competence in [their] college.”

The sixth annual Campus Diversity Forum will be hosted by the College of Letters and Sciences on November 2-5, 2015.  Its title is Diversity, Justice, and the Environment.  This forum will assemble internationally recognized speakers—Dr. Antwi Akom, Dr. Patty Loew, and Dr. Joni Seager—who will address the specific needs of a diverse range of vulnerable communities subject to environmental privations and challenges: neighborhoods in the urban United States; Wisconsin’s Native American communities; Canada’s First Nations in proximity to the Alberta Tar Sands; Gulf Coast populations ten years after Katrina; climate refugees in the South Pacific; women and children impacted by global climate change.  In addition, one session will feature poster presentations showcasing UW-W students’ research and creative projects related to the forum.

#WHO I AM campus diversity appreciation event, Fall 2014.