November 07, 2014
The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) hosted its 3rd Annual Diversity Summit in Southern Nevada on Friday, October 3, 2014. The event was held at the Cheyenne Campus of the College of Southern Nevada, from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Hundreds of staff and faculty members from Southern Nevada institutions attended the event, including a large contingency from NSC. Also, in attendance were NSHE students and community members, as the summit was free and open to the public.
We’re happy to be here, to represent NSC, said NSSA Vice President Yesenia Cuevas. In addition to the six students who attended, twenty-three staff and faculty members from NSC participated in the summit, representing several different departments on campus. Business Manager & Student Activities Advisor Jerica Turek-Johnson says she is pleased with both the students and the faculty and staff for their participation. I’m really glad we had such a large presence this year, she said. I’m especially proud of our students for attending and participating in this conversation about diversity. These are very important issues, and we all need to be involved.
This all-day event included morning plenaries and afternoon track sessions related to diversity, student success initiatives, workforce and economic development, and community engagement, with an overarching theme of pipelines to higher education. The welcome session took place at CSN’s Horn Theater. Participants were greeted by Regent Cedric Crear, Chair of the Cultural Diversity Committee.
The keynote speaker for this year’s event was Dr. Luis Ponjuan from Texas A&M University. Dr. Ponjuan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Human Resource Development at Texas A&M, and a Research Director for the Investing in Diversity, Equity, Access, and Learning (iDEAL) Research Project. Attendees raved about Dr. Ponjuan’s dynamic and captivating presentation about the plight of Hispanic males in education, entitled A Life is Waiting: Issues Facing Hispanic Males in College. I thought the speaker was phenomenal, said Alumni Relations & Development Operations Manager Danielle Welch. I really enjoyed his presentation. It was extremely impactful and very relevant for us here in Nevada.
Following the keynote speaker was a Q&A special presentation with CCSD Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky and NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich. After the Q&A, participants were able to network with one another during lunch, and then attend two afternoon breakout sessions. The options for the first breakout session, held from 1:00 to 2:15 p.m., were as follows: Keys to Veteran Success and Retention: A UNLV Model; Latino Youth Leadership Conference Partnerships for Student Success in Nevada; Student Success from Before Day One: Designing Initiatives and Processes to Guide Students to a Successful Experience. The second breakout session, held from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., offered the following options: The Layered Identity of Latinos: How National Origin, Language and Acculturation Add to the Complexity of What it Means to be Latino; Non-Traditional Students: The Fastest Growing Population on College Campuses in the U.S.; Fostering a Culture of Diversity Through Mentorship.
Diversity plays an important role in each of our institutions, and we are always looking for ways to show our commitment, said Jennifer Haft, Executive Assistant to the President. To show its commitment, NSC recently established a Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, comprised of various faculty and staff members from across campus. This task force will be led by Dr. Edith Fernández, Associate Vice President of Community Engagement and Diversity Initiatives at NSC. Dr. Fernández says she has high hopes for the diversity task force and is looking forward to the many things it will accomplish.
The 4th Annual NSHE Diversity Summit will be held next fall at Nevada State College. Dr. Fernández says her department has started planning for the event. We’re already getting ready and putting things in place now, she said. This is a huge deal for us; it’s extremely important, and we are taking it very seriously. We really want next year’s summit to be the best one ever!