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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

Conference confronts minority employment

Nearly 60 of the world's leading minds on diversity in today's college culture shared their ideas at a conference hosted by IU this weekend.\nThe three-day event, directed by IU professor of Afro-American Studies A.B. Assensoh and Yvette Alex-Assensoh, associate professor of political science, stressed individual-level and international resources that facilitate the incorporation of minority faculty on predominantly white college and university campuses.\nFaculty from as far as Japan came to Bloomington to discuss the resources available to minority programs and instructors in the institutional framework of college campuses.The five-panel program brought faculty relevant to the issue together to exchange theories and ideas.\n"I've been involved in this issue for quite some time and I was glad to be able to share my experiences with other panelists," said Wafula Okumu, an academic program associate at United Nations University in Tokyo. "Most of the people I met, I've read their works, but not met them. The conference was a good opportunity to interact with them on a personal level." \nThe event has been one year in the making, Assensoh said, and was funded by a $48,100 grant from the Spencer Foundation in Chicago, a group that investigates ways in which education can be improved around the world.\nBloomington Mayor John Fernandez praised the professors for bringing this important discussion to the city. Fernandez issued a proclamation calling Oct. 26 "Diversity and Academic Incorporation Day" in Bloomington.\nIU President Myles Brand also thanked the group for talking about these issues. \n"By exploring ways of moving beyond the diversity debate to taking stock of the lessons we have learned, your work will provide further insight into how we can create more inclusive communities of learning," Brand wrote to conference attendees. "Your task during this conference is an important one."\nNewly installed Bloomington Chancellor Sharon Brehm, who has made diversity on campus one of her three focus points, emphasized the importance of this weekend's conference.\nBrehm said IU has long had a tradition on incorporation a wide range of experiences and perspectives into its administrative ranks.\n"Your conference theme, explaining the extent to which faculty of color have legitimate access to institutional resources as well as equal opportunities for advancement in the academy, is a timely and significant one," Brehm said. "It has potential to move us all forward."\nAssensoh said he was pleased with how the event unfolded.\n"It went very well," Assensoh said. "This conference was a year in the making. There was a lot of work that went into it. But it was worth it"

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