During this 150th anniversary of the founding of William Woods year, we are not surprisingly finding ourselves talking a lot about our illustrious history as an institution.
Now, though, a quick note about our present.
This month is the annual observance of Black History Month, which at The Woods means a number of interesting activities centered around the life stories, struggle, advancement and contribution of African-Americans to our national life. I hope you are making a point to experience some of these events on campus during the month, which include the showing of thought-provoking films like “Hidden Figures,” “Prom Night in Mississippi,” “Dark Girls” and “King in the Wilderness.” Next week, we are excited to bring Mr. Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, to deliver a presentation on not only the history of segregated professional baseball in America, but also the connection of the Negro Leagues to issues related to sports, race and diversity.
Our celebration of Black History Month on campus is only one example of a larger commitment at The Woods. A commitment we all share as a campus community to the crucial issues of diversity an inclusion.
We are proud to have an Office of Diversity and Inclusion at WWU that is here year-round to promote the diversity of personality, ethnicity, language, culture and tradition so that all of us can learn from one another to become more well-rounded individuals. The Office supports our students from every walk of life, by coordinating, implementing and promoting all-inclusive cultural programming; fostering an understanding and appreciation for racial, ethnic, gender, age and other differences; providing culturally-correct, informative presentations to encourage discussion on current issues and events; scheduling showings of culturally relevant films; and offering professional development workshops and training to faculty, staff and students to increase cultural awareness.
In addition, we will be holding our fifth annual “Bridging Differences: Conversations on Gender, Race and Equality” symposium this fall, which will once again feature lectures, discussions and an art exhibit exploring the issues of diversity and equality. Our Center for Ethics and Global Studies and Woods Around The World program also work together throughout the year to infuse culture into our campus life, to further help our students to learn and grow together, gain appreciation for different cultures and challenge our perceptions of the world.
There is an old saying “To fully step into your element, sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone.” Here at The Woods, we embrace that idea fully, and will always maintain a commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion. Because after all, we are in fact all in this together.
And as Martin Luther King once famously said, “We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.”