The future and
Equal Opportunities International
Vol. 28 No. 4, 2009
# Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The future and diversity in
Dannielle Joy Davis
University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas, USA
Purpose – This paper describes and reflects upon the ‘‘Future of Diversity and Opportunity in
Higher Education: A National Forum on Innovation and Collaboration’’.
Design/methodology/approach – Participant observation, journaling and content analysis
comprise data sources for this work.
Findings – Featured sessions center upon the need for leaders in higher education to play key roles
in advocating for diversity on postsecondary campuses and the move from individual to democratic
merit in student admission and faculty hiring or promotion.
Originality/value – Adjudication against institutions working toward diversity requires new ways
of promoting opportunity for underrepresented members of the postsecondary community. The
following work describes such strategies.
Keywords Higher education, Equal opportunities, Conferences, United States of America
Paper type General review
‘‘The Future of Diversity and Opportunity in Higher Education: A National Forum on
Innovation and Collaboration’’ was held December 3rd through the 5th of 2008 at the
Rutgers State University in New Brunswick, New Jersey in the USA. The inaugural
conference was sponsored by Rutgers, the Columbia Law School, Columbia University
and the College Board. Questions it sought to answer include: What does an Obama
presidency and administration mean for future diversity work? What subsequent
erroneous assumptions will be made by the public about progress for the marginalized
in our country and how might diversity advocates respond? Another goal was to
identify a model for diversity during difficult economic times, as the current financial
crisis may threaten diversity work via limited resources and greater competition for
these resources from a myriad of fronts. Finally, decades of adjudication against
institutions working towards diversity require innovative ways of facilitating
opportunities for inclusion of the postsecondary community’s underrepresented
members. This conference worked to promote dialogue pertaining potential strategies
for infusing such social justice in the policy and practice of higher education’s
recruitment, admissions, hiring and promotion efforts.
During the opening plenary, entitled ‘‘Setting the Stage’’, the Presidents of Columbia
University and Rutgers University, Lee Bollinger and Richard McCormick,
respectively, spoke on the critical need of rethinking traditional strategies employed to
encourage underrepresented students’ participation rates on college campuses. The
moderator, Jonathan Alger, noted the irony of having a panel entirely comprising White
men speaking at the commencement of a diversity conference. While White advocacy
is a crucial component to our efforts, this fact indicates we have far to go on our
journey towards full minority inclusion and participation at the postsecondary level.
Bollinger stated how Barack Obama’s election to the Presidency should not derail
diversity efforts, as much needs to be done to make parity a reality. President Obama
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