conversation of understanding

November 29, 2021

Conversation on sustaining and expanding an antiracist system is Wednesday

A “Conversation of Understanding” discussion this week will look at sustaining and expanding antiracist initiatives throughout the Southern Illinois University campuses. Faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members are invited to join the live virtual discussion at noon, Wednesday, Dec. 1. 

The discussion, “Perspectives on Creating, Sustaining, and Expanding Antiracist Initiatives across SIU Campuses” will allow campus communities across the SIU System an opportunity to learn more about campus-specific antiracist, diversity, equity and inclusion (ADEI) efforts.  

The meeting will be available on the SIU System’s YouTube channel

The event will feature an SIU community panel sharing its members’ experiences and stories, followed by a Q&A session through the YouTube comment section. Questions may be submitted before the event by email to  

The participants include: 

  • Dan Mahony, SIU System president.
  • Venessa Brown, SIU Edwardsville associate athletic director for diversity, equity, and inclusion and chief diversity officer for SIUE intercollegiate athletics.
  • Lakesha Butler, SIU School of Pharmacy clinical professor and director, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Sheila Caldwell, SIU System vice president for antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion, and chief diversity officer, who will serve as moderator.
  • Paul Frazier, SIU Carbondale vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Jessica Harris, SIU Edwardsville, vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Mike Ruiz, SIU School of Law, assistant dean for career, alumni and promotional services.
  • Cornell Thomas, SIU School of Dental Medicine, chief diversity officer.
  • Wendi Wills El-Amin, SIU School of Medicine, associate dean for equity, diversion and inclusion.

The conversation will conclude the SIU system’s three-part fall series on “Becoming an Antiracist Community.” The three parts consisted of:

  • “Critical Steps to Becoming an Antiracist Higher Education System.”
  • “Perspectives on Creating an Antiracist, Equitable, Diverse and Inclusive SIU.”
  • “ADEI Leaders Perspectives on Creating, Sustaining, and Expanding Antiracist Initiatives across SIU Campuses.”

This is the 11th session in a series of virtual exchanges since June 2020 where students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members can share their experiences and thoughts on a variety of themes related to diversity, inclusion and equity. 

The SIU System President’s Office and the SIU System Diversity Advisory Council are discussion sponsors.