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August 16, 2013

The Office of Institutional Diversity hosted “Leading for Change: Diversity Practices in Higher Education”, a conference that brought together more than 200 educators from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire to discuss best practices and share ideas on a wide-range of topics.

The conference focused on BSU’s diversity-oriented policies and allowed participants the chance to examine their own institutional diversity practices. The ultimate goal of the two-day conference was for each educator to contribute to the creation of a campus diversity action plan.

President Dana Mohler-Faria greeted the visitors by recalling the long and ongoing battle surrounding issues of diversity. “We’re still working, we’re still struggling,” he said. “We’ve made great progression in some quarters but we are still here, having to do this work, having to create the kind of environment and an institution that embraces people.”

The president discussed some of BSU’s diversity initiatives and success stories, and how they have transformed the institution. Over the course of the last few years, the number of students of color attending BSU has jumped to 21 percent from 2 percent. The freshmen-sophomore retention rate of these students is at a rate of 81 percent. “Our graduation rate today for students of color on this campus exceeds the graduation rate of admission for all institutions of all students,” President Mohler-Faria said.

In her introduction, Dr. Sabrina Gentlewarrior, director of institutional diversity, said the job of creating an inclusive institution is exhilarating, exciting, difficult and essential.
She pointed out the advancements made on area campuses and the progress that’s still necessary.

“I would say that probably at all of our institutions we can continue to work on our policies, practices and pedagogies to make sure they are truly inclusive,” she said.
Dr. Charles Desmond, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, also addressed the conference.

The event featured workshops on diversity in STEM education and faculty development, leading institution-wide change and supporting student success, as well as a student panel. (Story by Shawn Finn, ’13, and John Winters, G ’11; photos and video by Shawn Finn, University News)

Dr. Sabrina Gentlewarrior
Dr. Charles Desmond