Two events addressing the issues of race and culture are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21, on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus.
In celebration of Black History Month, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the Michael F. Price College of Business is hosting a presentation at noon in the Dodson Lounge inside Price Hall, 1005 Asp Ave. Guest speakers George Henderson and Lillian Miller will present Racism: Perspectives on Racial Inequity. At 4 p.m., the Office of University Community is hosting a discussion titled Indigenous Lands: The Cultural Significance of Land Acknowledgement Statements, presented by guest Heather Shotton in the Scholars Room, located on the third floor of Oklahoma Memorial Union, 900 Asp Ave.
Admission to both events is complimentary and open to the public.
“It is important to continually and consistently have dialogue that reflects on our histories and cultural identities,” said Jane Irungu, interim associate vice president of the Office of University Community. “This dialogue is necessary for grounding ourselves in truths and knowledge that communicate who we are and what we value, and for celebrating our diversity as a strength and an important fabric of our interconnected destinies.”
The founder of OU’s human relations department, Henderson has served as a civil rights pioneer in education at the university since 1967. During his tenure at OU, Henderson has received numerous awards and accolades, including four distinguished professorships, the State of Oklahoma Black Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into both the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. From 1996 to 2000, he served as dean of the College of Liberal Studies.
Miller is the assistant dean of OU’s University College, which focuses on freshman advising, tutoring and assessment. Previously, she served as director of Freshman Programs at OU, where she oversaw courses designed to assist first-year students during their transition to the university.
“One of our goals in the Price Office of Diversity and Inclusion is to achieve inclusive excellence by any means necessary,” said Kenneth Chapman, director of Diversity and Inclusion. “We do that by being consistent in providing support for students, but also providing opportunities for our community to learn and engage through exposure to other cultures. What better way to achieve this than through the lens of campus leaders like Assistant Dean Miller and Dr. Henderson?”
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established in 2015 at the Price College of Business and is among a limited number of major business colleges across the country with such a designated office. The office promotes an inclusive learning community through the support of diversity in its people, programs and ideas. The office serves to build relationships and provide support and resources to underrepresented minorities, according to its website.
Shotton is the associate professor of Native American Studies and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at OU. A citizen of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes and also of Kiowa and Cheyenne descent, Shotton’s research focuses on Indigenous students in higher education and Indigenous women, particularly in the areas of leadership and Indigenous women in academia. Previously, she served as assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs at Oklahoma City University.
Nearly 575 tribal nations are recognized by the U.S. government. Oklahoma boasts the second-largest Indigenous population in the United States, with a total of 39 tribal nations. Through processes of treaty-making between the United States and tribal nations, Native American tribes share nation-to-nation relationships with the federal government, and government-to-government or sovereign-to-sovereign relationships with state governments.
This forum will create a broader public awareness on the history of sovereign nations and the cultural significance and deeper meaning of a land acknowledgement statement.
The Office of University Community enhances OU’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, recognizes and respect the essential worth of each individual, and values differences amongst groups. The office is committed to building a welcoming and supportive campus environment where each individual feels welcomed, valued and supported for success.