April 03, 2008

Second Annual Diversity Conference is April 22

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Second Annual Diversity Conference at Southern Illinois University on April 22 will focus on "Issues and Challenges in Teaching First Generation Students."

"It's really an effort to try to make the campus more reflexive and responsive to our population," said Seymour L. Bryson, the University's associate chancellor for diversity.

This year's conference is the result of discussions at campus diversity meetings and builds upon last year's session, which focused on diversity in the classroom, according to Bryson.

Open to SIUC faculty and staff, the conference kicks off at 8 a.m. with registration and continental breakfast at the Student Center Ballrooms. The day is all about giving insight into the issues relative to teaching and providing services to first-generation college students and what it means to the staff.

Kathleen Cushman, author of the two-volume "First in the Family: Advice about College from First-Generation Students" and other books, will present the keynote address at 9:15 a.m. following brief opening remarks from University officials. Numerous national magazines have also published articles by Cushman and she makes presentations across the country. A well-known educator, consultant and writer, Cushman will share details about what first-generation college students say they need to complete a four-year degree.

The conference also includes sessions about the characteristics of first-generation students, teaching and mentoring strategies for them, first-generation adult learners and working with military service-related disabilities and the classroom implications. During lunch, there's going to be a panel of first-generation students on hand. Everything wraps up about 3 p.m.

The registration deadline is 3 p.m. April 17. Pre-registration is required for lunch at the conference. Find the detailed schedule and the online registration form at http://www.dce.siu.edu/. You can also call the Division of Continuing Education at 618/536-7751.