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UGA faculty participate in ‘Reflections on Race’ workshop

Alan Flurry

The University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Institutional Diversity sponsored the inaugural “Reflections on Race” Workshop on May 18-19 on the UGA campus, an effort led by Franklin College Associate Dean Jean Martin-Williams. Nine faculty members from nine departments representing all tenured and untenured ranks were selected to participate in the workshop, which included a distinguished group of panelists and facilitators who discussed topics related to expanding the culture of diversity, equity and inclusion at UGA.

Participants shared in opportunities to develop a diversity, equity and inclusion project, including syllabus revisions, developing a new mentoring initiative, and new graduate recruitment strategies.

“A key part of my Associate Dean portfolio is Diversity Leadership, and all of us in the Dean’s Office work to make DEI a consideration in all decisions,” Martin Williams said. “This spring I was particularly interested in establishing tangible opportunities to foster a more inclusive community for our students, staff and faculty.  After consulting with colleagues in the Office of Institutional Diversity, the Dean’s Office decided to pilot a two-day intensive workshop for a small cohort of Franklin faculty who have earned the DEI Certificate.”

The workshops took place in the Lamar Dodd School of Art and the Miller Learning Center Reading Room. Michelle Garfield Cook, Senior Vice Provost, addressed the workshop with a closing keynote address.

The workshop planners were Carolyn Medine, All Shall Be Well Professor in Religion and director of the Institute of African American Studies; Chad Howe, associate professor in the departments of Linguistics and Romance Languages; Randolph Carter, UGA Director of Diversity and Inclusion and Deputy Chief Diversity Officer, and Jean Martin Williams, associate dean in the Franklin College.

“The objective of this workshop was to provide faculty with the tools to address issues of race in their teaching,” said Howe, who also serves as a Diversity Fellow in the Franklin College. “I think I speak for all of the organizers when I say that this event far exceeded our expectations, thanks in large part to the enthusiasm of our participants.”

Each day, the participants had time to focus on their projects. Participants will reassemble in September to share completed projects.

“While there is always a need, now is such an important time for people to come together to talk about race and the workshop provided a great venue,” said Roy Legette, professor and chair of Music Education in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music. “I was struck by the honesty and openness of the discussions by faculty, representing many different disciplines of the Franklin College, about this very complex topic and how we can make our classes more inviting and inclusive for persons of color.” 

“The workshop was a wonderful opportunity to connect with and learn from colleagues across campus who are committed to advancing equity and justice at UGA,” Andrea Sweigart, associate professor in the department of genetics.

“Learning more about what our faculty are doing and how they can champion our DEI mission in their own departments helps give that mission shape and greater meaning,” Martin-Williams said. “This is definitely something we will make an annual event.”

Image: Campus photo by Cassandra Wright for the Franklin College

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