By DONOVAN HARRELL
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s fourth annual Diversity Retreat will focus on how the University can create a culture of inclusion.
The retreat, open to Pitt faculty and staff, will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 25 in Alumni Hall. Registration for the retreat is free, and breakfast and lunch will be provided.
The keynote speaker will be Crystal Fleming, a sociologist and researcher on white supremacy, global racism and author of “How to be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide.”
After the welcoming session, which will feature statements from Pam Connelly, vice chancellor of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the keynote from Fleming, participants will break into several workshops.
The topics of the workshops will touch on the retreat’s theme for this year: “Instituting a Culture of Inclusion.”
Participants can expect to hear conversations about mental health, community engagement, racial and social justice, LGBTQ+ community issues and more.
Leigh Patel, Pitt’s inaugural associate dean of equity and justice at the School of Education, also will address a plenary session before the afternoon round of workshops.
The aim for this year’s retreat, said Ron Idoko, diversity and multicultural program manager with ODI, is to get participants thinking about how to create welcoming environments and to confront difficult topics around race, diversity, inclusion and equity.
“And the goal is to really think about how do we create a space in which we can talk about this and get those folks who might be in need of this type of learning to understand it from almost an academic perspective,” Idoko said. “So, if we can get them to understand a historical perspective, and then there’s some pedagogy behind it so that they can understand just how it actually evidences itself in society, we think everyone will be better off.”
Past retreats have attracted around 220 to 250 participants, but this year, the office is pushing for 300 to attend, said Idoko, who is facilitating the retreat for the first time.
He also wants participants to know that the environment for the retreat will be casual and relaxed.
“We’re not really treating this as a business activity, per se,” Idoko said. “We want folks to come in dressed comfortably, we want them to come in with their ideas. And we want folks to really leave having felt that the University is really taking targeted action toward building a broad and inclusive community.”
Idoko hopes for the program to expand in the future, and that the retreat will encourage more Pitt faculty and staff participation in Pitt’s various affinity groups.
Once the retreat is over, Idoko wants participants to realize that Pitt is actively working on promoting a diverse, inclusive and equitable environment — which are goals outlined in the Plan for Pitt.
“It’s incumbent upon everyone to really figure out or work to the best of their ability with their sphere of influence to kind of foster this environment for everyone to see,” Idoko said.
Registration for the retreat is open can be done online here.
Donovan Harrell is a reporter for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-383-9905