Making Excellence Inclusive conference to talk about diversity

Brooke Schwartz, Administration Reporter


Making campus a more accepting place will be discussed during the Making Excellence Inclusive diversity conference at 7:45 a.m. Friday in the Martin Luther King Jr. Union.

There will be a keynote speech by Beth Hatt, a Fulbright Fellow and associate professor at Illinois State University, titled “Cultural Wellness As Smartness,” role-playing games and discussions about racism and first-generation college students.

The program’s goal with the conference is to help those in power better interact with and teach “underrepresented groups” on campus that may need special resources or help.

Catherine Polydore, a professor in counseling and student development, said Friday is not aimed at students. However, they can get involved with Making Excellence Inclusive and the other programs it hosts, Polydore said.

“The purpose of (the conference) is to educate individuals who are in a position of power, so to speak, and who interact with students,” Polydore said.

Jeannie Ludlow, the vice chair of Making Excellence Inclusive, said she hopes this conference opens a discussion between important people on campus about diversity and why it is important.

“What we really wanted to do was bring as many people as possible from campus together to have conversations about how diversity is a part of our campus,” Ludlow said.

Making Excellence Inclusive started at Eastern in 2012 as an initiative of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and has since hosted many events and presentations in an effort to help Eastern’s diversity, Ludlow said.

Ludlow has been a part of Making Excellence Inclusive since its inception, and she said she is amazed with what the group has done over the years.

“When I got here in 2008, there didn’t seem to be as much of that kind of work happening at Eastern as there was at my previous institution, and so I was very excited when people started doing the work, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Ludlow said.

Both Ludlow and Polydore said one of the overarching goals of Making Excellence Inclusive is to help those for whom success, especially in the classroom, can be hard to come by, because of what that student’s reality might look like.

Polydore said racism and discrimination, on and off campus, can make achieving excellence much harder for underrepresented students.

“(Making Excellence Inclusive) is something people get involved with because they care very deeply,” Ludlow said.

The fight for equality has been going on for hundreds of years. She said the goal of Making Excellence Inclusive has never been to eliminate racism or inequality, but more to better provide for all students.

Polydore said Masking Excellence Inclusive hopes to provide tools to faculty, staff and students to better and more inclusively live and interact with an increasingly diverse world and to help students know they can overcome the obstacles of an unequal world.

“We are providing them with, we like to think of it as, the hope or inspiration to be anything they want to be,” Polydore said. “Because we have done it, they can do it too.”

Making Excellence Inclusive hosts meetings every three weeks. The next meeting is at 11 a.m. on Oct. 17 in the Dean’s Conference Room in the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Interested faculty, staff and graduate assistants have until noon on Thursday to register for the conference, which can be done online at the Making Excellence Inclusive website. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]