Early next month, the Johns Hopkins
Council will host its inaugural diversity conference, a
half-day event intended to create a dialogue around the
subject and allow faculty and staff to share strategies for
improving JHU's efforts in this area.
Diversity: Key to Our Future will be held on Monday,
Nov. 1, at Homewood's Glass Pavilion. The keynote speakers
for the event are President William R. Brody and John B.
Slaughter, a distinguished education leader and
The conference, which is open to the entire Johns
Hopkins community, will feature several workshops on topics
including faculty and staff recruitment and retention
strategies, ways to create an inclusive educational
environment, conflict resolution and means to foster
diversity in the workplace.
Ray Gillian, associate provost and director of the
Office of Equal
Opportunity and Affirmative Action Programs, said that
a major goal of the upcoming conference is to bring added
visibility to diversity issues.
"We hope these workshops and training sessions will
increase people's understanding and knowledge of diversity
issues," Gillian said. "We want to bring together a group
of people who care about these matters so that they can
interact and dialogue with each other."
The event will kick off at 9 a.m. with a keynote
address by Slaughter, a former director of the National
Science Foundation, president of Occidental College in
California and chancellor at the University of Maryland,
College Park. Currently the president and CEO of the
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering,
Slaughter is a member of the National Academy of
Engineering and fellow of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science. In 1993, he was named to the
American Society for Engineering Education Hall of Fame.
The workshops will go from 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
and be followed by a luncheon featuring an address by
Gillian said that the workshop topics were chosen to
illustrate the broad and diverse population that the
Diversity Leadership Council services.
"Too frequently, people think of diversity only in
terms of ethnicity or gender, but it is a very broad
spectrum. We want to be equally inclusive in terms of our
personnel here at Johns Hopkins," he said.
The conference will help to identify the challenges
that exist at Johns Hopkins, Gillian said, and then allow
participants to think through strategies and uncover
opportunities to overcome those challenges.
In terms of the recruitment challenge, Gillian said
Hopkins is caught in a sort of Catch-22: It's crucial to
have a "critical mass" of a specific population, he said,
in order to be truly successful in recruiting that same
segment, whether it is African-American faculty or Hispanic
"Those groups are out there, but they may choose to go
elsewhere, someplace where there is a critical mass of
others like them, rather than come here and be among the
only one or two like themselves," Gillian said. "One of the
things we are asking conference presenters to do as much as
possible is to help us develop a sort of game plan so that
the participants walk away from the workshop with some
thoughts on how they can address these sorts of issues.
When you bring people together, they can be pretty creative
in making something work."
Gillian said an example of a successful diversity
strategy was one recently implemented by the School of
Engineering that requires the school's academic departments
to produce a diverse pool of candidates before interviews
are conducted. Other university departments have, in turn,
adopted a similar policy.
Now in its eighth year of existence, the council
advises the president on diversity issues for both the
university and Johns Hopkins Medicine and currently has 30
members. Its priorities include the recruitment for and
retention of women and underrepresented ethnic minorities
in senior faculty and leadership positions, and increasing
the visibility, awareness and appreciation of diversity
throughout Hopkins. Each spring, the president appoints new
staff, student and faculty members to serve one- or
two-year terms. In 2003, President Brody appointed
Gwendolyn Boyd, assistant for development programs at APL,
to chair the group.
Boyd said that the conference will convene a talented
group of experts. "The presenters will help us to focus our
attention on how we can develop a strategic plan of action
to continue to recruit and retain the highest quality of
faculty, staff and students in the world at the same time
making it more diverse," Boyd said. "We want to remain
unqualified leaders in every way as we put together
multigenerational, multicultural, multidisciplinary and
multitalented teams here at Hopkins."
Registration deadline is Oct. 22.