The Paw Print
Dr. Brenda Allen is associate dean of planning and initiatives and professor of Communications at the University of Colorado, Denver. She has been invited to speak for many different national conferences and workshops about her work in communication and equity.
Allen was invited to Adams State to speak about equity and diversity on campus. She was invited back this year to continue that idea and expand.
The talk came the week after MLK Week celebrations. The first workshop was held on Sunday Jan. 22 at 1 p.m. in the ballrooms on the third floor of the Student Union Building. The room was re-set into a circle, to change the dynamic of the room by making faculty, staff and students face each other and be seen themselves.
The workshop started when what looked like a Crown Royal bag full of hearts with “strength words” on them was passed around the room. Each person picked out of the sack and stated how that word is used to guide the journey of equity and inclusion. Allen used the poetic metaphor of being on a journey as a theme in her presentation.
Participants were then coupled into groups to discuss how we have been leaders in this journey. At the conclusion of our partnered groups we partnered with another couple and found common themes in each of our stories.
We then regrouped and reflected on themes that we all liked. The workshop concluded with gifts of fortune cookies and candy. It was said that the cookies would be the next portion of our individual journeys. Appropriately, one participant read their fortune: “Continue to take chances and you will be glad you did.”
Monday, Allen met with academic department chairs and division heads. On Tuesday, general audiences were again invited to join. Allen for a lunchtime “Kindered Spirits” discussion with the CELT (Center for Equity in Learning and Teaching) group members on campus. CELT is the organization of campus of faculty and staff that is dedicated to providing an equitable and inclusive campus for all.
The similar theme of travel and journey remained constant, though. Allen emphasized the idea of SENKA or looking back to the past to see where we are going in our future. The group was then split into table sized groups of five or six to discuss our journey of being leaders in this never ending trip to equity. We were asked to discuss the roadblocks and some empowerment points as well as our first experience with diversity.
A lot of our faculty and staff through very different experiences all came to a common ground of understanding; this was the true gift of the whole experience.
The whole community was invited to Allen’s closing presentation on Tuesday afternoon that was open to all community, students, faculty, and staff. This final presentation due to its size was not as interactive as the lunchtime meeting, but during small group discussions, some spoke of the changing physical attributes at ASC while others spoke of having more equally sexed faculty teaching on campus. The influx of more diverse students was also discussed. Both good and bad qualities were discussed in each case.