OSU Institute of Technology is hosting a series of speakers in honor of Black History Month this February to inspire students, faculty and staff to learn, grow and expand their knowledge of the African-American culture.
The series kicked off with Marhia Mitchner, current Miss Black OSU, on Feb. 5. Mitchner discussed her platform “I AM ENOUGH,” which focuses on raising women’s self-confidence. She also discussed the importance of being miss black OSU to the OSU and surrounding community.
Next week will feature Dr. Jason Johnson, acting executive director of Enrollment Management at Langston University, on Feb. 12. Kuma Roberts, the executive director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce will speak on Feb. 19. Both events will take place as a ‘bring your own lunch’ event that will take place in the Mabrey Room in the Student Union from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The topic for Johnson’s event will be focused around his journal article “Who’s Afraid of the Big Black Man?” The session will talk about views expressed in his article such as how black men are often perceived as being aggressive, violent and physically larger than their white counterparts.
Johnson will talk about how the negative perceptions often lead to negative encounters and the recurring theme of black men being unjustly killed, their character being assassinated and the emotional toll they endure.
Nate Todd, director of prospective student services said this area of growth needs to be addressed and that these events are important to our students to continue to be relevant in this global market. “Industries are openly talking about their diversity and inclusion efforts and showing how they benefit the bottom line,” he said. “By ignoring these types of events, a person would be crippling their professional and personal development.”
As the previous coordinator of African-American Affairs at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Johnson assisted students in refining their academic skills and utilizing campus resources, promoted understanding of the student’s culture and respect for other cultures and served as advisor for the African-American Student Association. Johnson holds a doctorate in Social Foundations in Education with a cognate in Higher Education Leadership. Equipped with his passion for learning and his desire to experience new cultures, he has studied abroad in countries such as Belize, France, Senegal, The Gambia, Ghana and Pueblo, Mexico.
Kuma Roberts will be discussing cultural competency. The idea that leaders are no longer just those with titles of authority but are now those who demonstrate cultural competency and cultivate diverse, equitable and inclusive team and business environments.
In her role as executive director, Roberts is responsible for driving Chamber D & I strategies as well as the cultivation of a supportive and inclusive work environments in the Tulsa region. She serves on various local boards and is passionate about education, equity, social justice and her community
In order for OSUIT to be the leader in preparing students for the world of work, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) issues are an important key to their success and these types of events help fill that gap.
Todd mentions how there are four key reasons that events like this speaker series is important to the campus.
“The moral or social justice case asserts that each person has value to contribute and that we must address barriers and historical factors that have led to unfair conditions for marginalized populations,” he said. “The economic case based on the idea that organizations and countries that tap into diverse talent pools are stronger, efficient and economically sustainable.
“The third case is that the market states that organizations will better serve their customers if they reflect the diversity of their market base,” said Todd. “Lastly, the case of results says the diverse teams lead to better outputs.”
Todd hopes this series of speakers will encourage awareness and personal and professional growth among the campus.