Nearly 300 members of both the campus and broader community throughout the country attend virtual event
MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University hosted a diversity, equity and inclusion virtual symposium on Oct. 2, promoting cross-racial dialogue, education and increased awareness of issues related to race and ethnicity. Coordinated by the University’s Office of Multicultural Initiatives, Student Leadership and Inclusive Excellence, the symposium was attended by nearly 300 members of the campus and broader community throughout the country.
Following opening remarks by Executive Director of the Office of Multicultural Initiatives, Student Leadership and Inclusive Excellence Dr. SG Carthell and Murray State Board of Regents Chair Jerry Rhoads, Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson addressed attendees as well before announcing a new Distinguished Presidential Fellow award, to be presented to alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the University for outstanding contributions, support and lifetime achievements. The first Distinguished Presidential Fellow award was presented to Mrs. Eunice J. Mills which was accepted by her son, Glenn.
Mrs. Mills and her late husband, Dr. Marvin D. Mills, have been instrumental in recruiting and mentoring Murray State students beginning in the mid 1970’s, supporting students of color in furthering their education and leadership development through scholarships and funding for diversity and leadership programming, such as the Eunice J. Mills On-Track Program, the annual Diversity Achievement Awards, and the fall and spring Hitimu Celebration through the Emerging Scholars Institute.
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Dr. Aaron Thompson delivered a keynote address that provided several updates on continued goals and progress toward creating a more equitable Commonwealth through higher education. Thompson shared that over a five-year span, the graduation rate of underrepresented minority students has risen 6.8 percentage points among Kentucky four-year public institutions.
In speaking to diversity, equity and inclusion, Thompson shared, “Diversity is making sure everyone is invited to the dance. Inclusion is making sure everybody has the opportunity to dance. Equity is providing the help needed by those who don’t have a talent for dancing.”
The virtual symposium’s afternoon events included two “Grand Conversations” of distinguished alumni and others who shared their wisdom and expertise on topics related to the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion, moderated by Dr. Alicia J. Carthell, assistant professor of english and philosophy. Guests touched on a variety of topics, including student success and support, examples of leadership and mentorship, conflict resolution, as well as the importance of actively recruiting black faculty and staff.
The inaugural symposium will be an annual event hosted by Murray State University.
“The caliber of the distinguished alumni and guests that participated in the DEI Virtual Symposium was unprecedented,” said Executive Director of the Office of Multicultural Initiatives, Student Leadership and Inclusive Excellence Dr. SG Carthell. “Dr. Thompson’s opening keynote set the stage for an outstanding discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion. We appreciate the support shown by all who attended the event.”
“I want to thank our keynote speaker, Dr. Aaron Thompson, our distinguished panelists, and others who made this important event a reality,” said Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson. “Also, it was a great honor to recognize Mrs. Eunice Mills, a long-time friend and supporter, for her lifetime work in advancing Murray State University and supporting our students in partnership with her late husband and long-time professor, Dr. Marvin Mills.”