TU faculty and staff attend “courageous conversations” conference to push for a more inclusive Towson

By Reiko Gallo '18 on September 29, 2017

Following a keynote address by Harvard's Domonic Rollins, Ph.D., participants attended two breakout sessions.

On Friday, September 29, Towson University’s Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity (OIEE) hosted their first courageous conversations conference with keynote speaker Domonic Rollins, Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Rollins currently serves as Harvard University’s senior diversity officer and assistant to the deans, specializing in diversity, social justice, organizational dynamics and supervision. He began his “indulgence in diversity” during his time at University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his postdoctoral degree. 

“I came up in a time where people were saying ‘don’t do multicultural affairs,’ you’ll get stuck there,’” Rollins said Friday morning before a packed audience in the University Union’s Chesapeake Rooms. “Currently, there’s so much movement around a shift in climate where campuses are feeling like they need to have someone for that.”

Rollins encouraged the audience—comprised of TU faculty and staff—to think of these conversations in their context rather than just their content. Making a comparison to a glass of water, he said the glass represents the context and the water represents the content.

The larger the context, the more volume to facilitate authentic conversations. Conversation may hold anywhere from a teacup to a glass to a reservoir of context. Audience members asked the question of how one increases their volume.

“These conversations requires practice,” Rollins explained. “I think we all may have our default as a teacup, mostly because we haven’t practiced them and are thrown into them. There needs to be more space as these are the conversations we are trying to have.

“Emotions line the path in which we build our conversations,” Rollins added. “A real dynamic happens when people are having a conversation about something they aren’t always a part of.”

Following the keynote address, conference attendees chose two breakout sessions from the following topics:

  • Courageous Conversations Inside Departmental Meetings
  • Equity Lens Inside Search Committees
  • Intersectional Interventions: Merit and Tenure Evaluation
  • Facilitating Challenging Conversations in Our Classrooms
  • Getting to Know the Keynote Speaker: Dr. Domonic Rollins

TU’s OIIE fosters a climate grounded in respect, civility, and inclusion that enriches the educational experiences of students.  OIIE is supporting the following upcoming events:

Beating the odds: A phenomenological analysis of Black student experiences in U.S. public schools, presented by Marci Watson-Vandiver, Ph.D., Department of Elementary Education

  • Viewing of the Film “Voices of Baltimore”: November 8 from 4–8 p.m.

For more information, visit Towson’s Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Campus.