DEI leader offers inspiring, practical strategies to promote campus inclusion
During an inspiring day-long conference on the stage of the Center for Performing Arts, a national diversity, equity, and inclusion leader (DEI) Damon Williams, Ph.D. praised Governors State University for its work to promote a sense of inclusion and equity on campus.
“Governors State is best positioned for inclusive excellence’’ said Williams, in a reference to the name of his presentation, the Inclusive Excellence Residency, as well as the university’s location, mission, and student demographic.
A trailblazer in the DEI space, Williams co-authored the first book ever written on the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) role, “The Chief Diversity Officer: Strategy, Structure, and Change Management." He is also the best-selling author of “Strategic Diversity Leadership: Activating Change and Transformation in Higher Education."
Today, Williams serves as Chief Catalyst of the Center for Strategic Diversity Leadership and Social Innovation in Atlanta and is a senior scholar and innovation fellow with the Wisconsin Equity and Inclusion (Wei) Laboratory of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Calling Williams an inspired visionary, GSU President Cheryl Green said the campus was excited in the days and weeks leading up to his presentation, which came just days after the MLK Day celebration.
“Dr. Williams is well-prepared and well-positioned to lead GSU to the next level of inclusive excellence,” said Dr. Green during her introductory remarks. She said Williams’ strategies align with the goal of Illinois Equity in Attainment (ILEA) to eliminate disparities in degree completion rates between African American, Latinos, and white students.
At Governors State, where Dr. Green assumed the presidency in 2020, she has made several inroads to ensure a more inclusive campus, including creating the university’s inaugural Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) role, establishing GSU’s Social Justice Initiative and hiring a director, and reestablishing the former Campus Inclusion Team as the DEI Council.
CDO Carl Hampton said Williams’ Inclusive Excellence Residency was part of his office's overarching goal to promote his proposed diversity plan “One GSU”, which will help collaboratively increase belonging among faculty, employees and students at GSU and enhance academic excellence.
Williams said the university’s comprehensive efforts make it a “beacon of greatness” to empower students, who are impatient for change.
“The coming generation has a voice,'' Williams said. They've had a voice for many years through social media and by the time they reach college they will use this voice because they want justice and equity now. They are tired of waiting. They will not wait any longer.”
To view Dr. Williams full presentation, click here.