The 2014, Students of Color Reception: Celebrating a More Inclusive College was a success. Despite bitterly cold temperatures (day high of 39°, and 19° at the start of the event) the fifth annual installment of the event saw increased attendance from the past couple years, with nearly 70 guests joining Morgridge faculty, staff and a student panel. Beginning the night with delightful hors d’oeuvres, prospective students were introduced to current students and faculty to hear more about Morgridge and learning opportunities within the college. Current Higher Education Masters student, Ana Ramirez, spoke of the event saying, “It was a great opportunity to meet other individuals within the Morgridge College of Education and share my experience with prospective students.”
Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence and Associate Professor of Higher Education at Morgridge, Dr. Frank Tuitt, was the event facilitator for the evening. He spoke to the ongoing need for the college to utilize Inclusive Excellence pedagogy, in order to create equitable education opportunities for all students, specifically students of color. Dr. Tuitt then introduced a panel of current and former Morgridge students of color, to speak about their experiences as students of color on the predominantly white campus of the University of Denver. The panel spoke at length about the investment of the college’s faculty in the success of students of color, both emotionally and academically. There was much praise by the panel on the cohort model as an aid in confronting the challenges that come with being a grad student (e.g. balancing work/social life, having children, the substantial school-workload). Financial resources on campus was a topic of great interest by many of the prospective students. There was an echoed sentiment of the panels’ initial perceptions of the University of Denver being that of a private school with excessive tuition prices; upon acceptance to their respective programs and further conversations with different departments on campus, they discovered the multitude of assistantship, fellowship, and scholarship opportunities to help fund their education.
The event was impactful. Prospective and current students were able to share their stories and engage in conversations with regard to the meanings of their journeys in and through higher education. The night culminated with panel member, Dr. T. Lee Morgan’s plea to diversify the makeup of the campus and bring voice to communities of color, “If we are going to change the diversity of DU, of Morgridge, we need you here. You have valuable experiences that no one else can bring to the table.”
Thank you to all who attended and supported the Students of Color Reception, and a special thank you to Dr. Frank Tuitt and the panel members:
- Casey Crear, Curriculum and Instruction PhD (Current Student)
- Dr. T. Lee Morgan, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies PhD (Alum)
- Raquel Wright-Mair, Higher Education PhD (Current Student)
- Ruby Lopez, Teacher Education Program MA (Alum)
- Hazuki Tochihara, Early Childhood Special Education MA (Current Student)
- Jamie Kawahara, Child Family and School Psychology EdS (Current Student)
School of Education promotes Inclusive Excellence with Students of Color Reception
by Emma McKay
For the Morgridge College of Education, diversity means more than just a number of minority students – it means a higher quality education. That’s why the school held its third annual Students of Color reception last Friday evening in an effort to promote inclusive excellence in all of its higher education and teacher training programs.
The reception, which was held in Ruffato Hall and gathered approximately 40 professors, current and prospective students, was meant to inform prospective students of why inclusive excellence is important to Morgridge, and also to give them a taste of what the Morgridge experience is like, according to Ryan Barone, second year PhD student in the Higher Education program who coordinated the event.
The evening began with an hour or mingling over hor’d’oeuvres and drinks including chocolate covered strawberries, roasted vegetables, cheese, coffee and various alcoholic beverages, so that attendees could get a chance to meet each other and informally network.
“In the past students who have attended felt like it was a really unique opportunity to meet other students of color at [Morgridge] to talk in an authentic way about some of the challenges and opportunities that are unique here at the college,” said Barone.
After short speeches by Gregory Anderson, dean of the school, and Frank Tuitt, associate provost of multicultural excellence, a panel of six current masters and doctoral students answered questions about their time at Morgridge
The students didn’t only discuss their experiences with diversity at the school. Many questions were focused on things like the school’s unique class schedule, which allows students to take classes at night or on the weekends, internships or time management. Two students spoke about what it is like to raise children while still attending school.
“As a parent, I really appreciate the fact that there is a family bathroom here,” said panelist David Kennedy, laughing. “My daughter is here so much some people say she’s going to earn her honorary degree.”
Another panelist, Sujie Kim, spoke about how the program helped her decide what she wants to do after school.
“If I had guessed a couple years ago, I never would have thought I’d be working with veterans,” said Kim.
All panelists agreed that the school’s commitment to inclusive excellence has added to their education.
“We have a wide variety of life experiences and we each bring those different perspectives to the things we’re working on,” said panelist Myntha Cuffy.
“In my cohort, there’s probably about 14 of us, and eight out of the 14 are students of color,” said Jesús Rodríguez, first PhD candidate in education leadership and policy studies. “That’s a really different experience for me.”
According to Barone, the school does take into account diversity when admitting students.
“I think the more diverse our classrooms are with all identities, better training they’ll get in their programs and they’ll be better professionals down the road,” said Barone.
Morgidge is trying to diversify its pool of students as much as possible in order to create a more rounded learning experience.
“We are always trying to diversify in terms of race but also in terms of other identities,” said Barone. “Folks from out of state, folks from all over the world, different religions, gender, sexual orientation, that’s all part of our strategy.”
Originally posted through the Clarion Newspaper at the University of Denver