A commitment made by Chancellor Ronnie Green is helping further the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s work on enhancing diversity and inclusion.
Earlier this year, Green signed a pledge that aligned him with more than 550 chief executive officers who are dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The pledge is part of the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion initiative, the largest chief executive officer-driven commitment in the United States.
As a part of the commitment, the university will host a Day of Understanding event, noon to 1 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Nebraska Union Colonial Room. Nebraska is one of more than 100 national companies and higher education institutions participating in Day of Understanding.
The event, which is open to students, faculty and staff, will include instruction on how to have civil and useful conversations on topics directly related to diversity and inclusion. Green will open the event, with Karen Kassebaum, director of staff diversity and inclusion, leading the conversations. Participants are encouraged to bring a lunch.
“This is a great opportunity for faculty, staff and students to learn how we can have positive dialogues on tough topics,” Kassebaum said. “It will be useful for anyone who wants to grow and develop in their dialogue skills.”
The session will include a series of activities followed by a practice session in which participants will be included in small-group discussions on diversity and inclusion topics.
“My hope is this session will help us start getting comfortable having uncomfortable conversations,” Kassebaum said.
This is the second CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion program the university has offered. The first, a Check Your Blind Spots event, was in September and featured a multimedia trailer with information about unconscious biases people hold. It also included a resource fair with more than 20 local organizations and campus partners.
“The information was extremely useful,” said Maggie Miller, a residence hall director who planned to integrate the information into her work with students. “We each make these instantaneous judgments about each other. But, we need to move beyond those if we are truly going to be inclusive.”
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus. Recent programming, along with the hire of Marco Barker as the university’s first vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, has been guided by a diversity analysis completed in 2017 by Halualani and Associates.