UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

DEI in Higher Ed conference explores best practices, biggest challenges

All are welcome at next week’s DEI conference, UND’s first

The Future is Now, as the graphic above proclaims. And with that in mind, next week UND will host its first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion conference, calling attention to and hoping to help resolve one of higher education’s most ongoing and widely shared challenges.

The conference, “The Future is Now: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education and Beyond,” will be held at UND’s Memorial Union on Oct. 5 and 6. It’s meant to bring together students, faculty, staff, community members and others who care about higher education and want to make the field better, said Tamba-Kuii Bailey, special assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion at UND.

Specifically, the idea is for participants to learn about “the important work of infusing equity and inclusion in all aspects of the higher-education experience,” Bailey said.

“We believe the conference will allow attendees to explore many of the challenges and barriers that we have faced in higher education,” he continued. He called special attention to the challenges that arise when institutions don’t practice inclusion as well they could or should do.

In addition, he said, “we’ll be sharing those practices that people have used to remove those barriers as a means of making higher education accessible to more communities.”

Bailey thanked UND President Andy Armacost for the president’s strong support of the conference. “We also have sponsorship from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration, the UND Alumni Association & Foundation and private families,” Bailey said.

And in part because of that wide range of support, the conference’s themes were made purposefully broad, Bailey said. In that way, the conference will be better able to connect people across campus and the region.

“Our vision was to introduce people in the region to each other so that they can learn from their peers and hopefully engage in collaborative equity and inclusion work in the future,” he said.

The in-person conference will serve as an interdisciplinary forum to introduce and explore policies, theories and research associated with equity, inclusion and social justice. It will also explore barriers to effectively implementing equity and inclusion practices, as well as solutions to address these barriers.

Conference themes:

  • Information technology
  • Teaching pedagogy
  • Service and practice
  • DEI focused research
  • Supporting LGBTQ+ communities in education
  • Supporting students of Color needs in education
  • Mental health
  • Higher education policy
  • Mentorship/supervision for underserved student communities
  • DEI considerations in the workforce
  • Supporting Indigenous training and research in higher education

Keynote Speakers:

Dr. Suzanne Johnson has served as President of Green River College in Auburn, Wash., since July 2017. Her time at Green River College has focused on facilitating and supporting the collaborative efforts of the college’s outstanding faculty and staff as they work to ensure equitable student outcomes and deepen a culture of caring and belonging for all students.

Dr. Darrick Smith is Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of San Francisco and is a co-director and co-author of the School of Education’s Transformative School Leadership (TSL) program. His research interests are culturally responsive discipline practices; critical pedagogy; transformative school leadership, and social justice schooling. Smith is also the founder and former Director of the TryUMF (pronounced “triumph”) program in Oakland, Calif., and formerly served as the Co-Director/Principal of the June Jordan School for Equity in San Francisco.

Dr. Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales is Associate Professor in the School of Education and affiliate faculty in the Migration Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. She is an interdisciplinary scholar of education and immigration and speaks across the nation on issues related to diversity, equity, higher education and immigrant rights. Raised on the U.S.-Mexico border, Negrón-Gonzales has been working with, supporting and researching the lives of undocumented youth for the past 15 years in multiple capacities: as a student affairs professional, a researcher and an activist.

Dr. Katie Spencer is a licensed psychologist and assistant professor at the Institute for Sexual and Gender Health (ISGH) at the University of Minnesota Medical School; and the Co-Medical Director of M Health Fairview Comprehensive Gender Care Services. Her primary clinical practice is working with gender and sexual health concerns including gender diverse adolescents and adults, women’s sexuality and sexual health, and LGBTQ sexuality and well-being. She has a special interest in working on sexuality in gender and life transitions and working with LGBTQ elders.

For more information on the keynote speakers, visit the conference website.


Registration is free for UND students, faculty and staff.

For non-UND participants, registration cost is $95. For non-UND student participants, registration cost is $55.

Visit the DEI Conference website to register.