NCORE Provides Forum, Spark for Difficult Conversations About Inclusion and Diversity - Higher Education

Higher Education News and Jobs

NCORE Provides Forum, Spark for Difficult Conversations About Inclusion and Diversity

Email




by Jamal Watson

 

Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien O’Brien encouraged conference goers not to wait for mainstream media to tell the important stories that involve people of color.

Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien encouraged conference goers not to wait for mainstream media to tell the important stories that involve people of color.

INDIANAPOLISIt has become a recognized safe space where tough conversations about race and ethnicity can be had.

Tears sometimes flow, but hugs are also extended as faculty, administrators, staff and students from colleges and universities across the nation gather annually to discuss the tough issues of inclusion and diversity in higher education and beyond.

For nearly three decades, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) has been the go-to place to help rejuvenate those in the academy, whose daily work has focused on breaking down racial barriers while helping to push a social justice agenda forward that addresses a wide range of issues from mass incarceration to the challenges facing Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“The conference has been eye opening for me,” said Matthew Nash, a student programming coordinator at the University of Oklahoma, which houses the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies, the entity that launched the NCORE conference back in 1988. “We still have a long way to go, but I’m happy that the issues are being discussed.”

This year’s conference drew more than 2,300 participants to Indianapolis and included such high-profile speakers as Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Cheryl Crazy Bull, environmental activist Vandana Shiva, and journalist Soledad O’Brien.

O’Brien, an award-winning journalist who left the cable network CNN last year to create Starfish Media Group—a production company  committed to making documentaries that grapple with issues of race, class and poverty—encouraged conference goers not to wait for mainstream media to tell the important stories that involve people of color.

Related:  Professor Sues Caltech Over Whistleblowing

“There is a certain laziness in wanting to tell the complicated story,” she said during her keynote address on Saturday afternoon. “True leadership is about a blunt conservation, and I believe that there is not only room for blunt conversation, but it’s critical.”

Throughout the week, conference organizers paused to pay tribute to poet Dr. Maya Angelou, who died on Wednesday at the age of 86. An outspoken advocate for diversity and multiculturalism, Angelou held the lifetime appointment of Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.

Dr. Belinda Biscoe, associate vice president for Outreach at the University of Oklahoma, said that NCORE has become the leader in helping to facilitate the conversation about why diversity remains important at the collegiate level.

“In this country, we are yet to get honest enough where we can have these open dialogues at a larger national level,” said Biscoe. “NCORE provides that environment.”

NCORE was born in the wake of a rash of racist incidents on college campuses in the 1980s, receiving financial support in early days from Oklahoma’s state legislature. It has since become a national clearinghouse aimed at helping to foster institutional change that focuses on improving racial and ethnic relations on campus while expanding opportunities for educational access and success, particularly for underrepresented minority groups.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a conference that has this much diverse representation by race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, public and private universities, colleges, community colleges and so on,” said Biscoe, who has been at the university for 16 years. “NCORE is about empowering those bold enough to be difference makers by providing information for collaboration and support.”

Related:  PAMELA NOLAN YOUNG

Briscoe said that plans are currently underway to launch a journal that comes out of the conference and that she wants to do a better job at increasing the representation of HBCUs at future conferences.

Next year, the conference will be held in Washington, D.C.

“It’s really been a great opportunity to rejuvenate and to meet people who are doing similar work,” said Olivia Seifert, an adviser and recruiter for the Educational Leadership Department at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. “It’s allowed me an opportunity to take a step back and do some reflecting.”

Jamal Watson can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow him on twitter @jamalericwatson

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Delaware State Using Data Science to Improve Retention Not so long ago, officials at Delaware State University (DSU) — the lone historically Black college in the state — responded to dropouts and stop-outs in an after-the-fact manner. “In the past we would sit around and wait until the semester’s end,...
Golden Gate University Ranked No.1 for Adult Learners Golden Gate University is ranked No. 1 for adult learners in the latest edition of Washington Monthly’s annual best college rankings issue. The magazine decided for the first time to include best institutions for adult learners — that is, students...
Study: Academic Readiness Gaps Closing but Slowly The gap in kindergarten academic readiness between high- and low-income families narrowed by at least 10 percent between 1998 and 2010, marking a sharp reversal of a troubling, decades-long trend. During this time frame, the White-Hispanic kinderg...
Binghamton University Responds to Criticism over #StopWhitePeople2K16 A public university in New York says the #StopWhitePeople2K16 used as the title of a recent training session was chosen for its irony and the session ― about diversity ― wasn’t anti-White. A Binghamton University administrator issued an explanatio...
Semantic Tags: