St. Olaf to host inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium
St. Olaf College will host its inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium Friday, May 6, and Saturday, May 7.
The symposium, titled Recognizing Excellence, Challenges, and the Work Ahead, will feature both in-person and virtual tracks. It is hosted by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office and the Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It will feature two keynote addresses, as well as 25 breakout sessions, eight roundtable discussion sessions, and six professional development sessions in person, as well as nine presentations virtually. They will touch on a wide range of topics and disciplines, from how to create more inclusive classrooms to supporting religious diversity on campus to ways to be a responsible racial ally and activist.
“The goal of the symposium is to bring St. Olaf students, faculty, staff, and alumni together to share, celebrate, and learn about the work we’re doing to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus,” says Vice President for Equity and Inclusion María Pabón Gautier.
Assistant Professor of Music Tesfa Wondemagegnehu will deliver the keynote address on Friday, titled To Repair: The Breakdown of the Musical Score. Wondemagegnehu will provide a deep dive into the compositional process behind the multi-movement choral work To Repair. He will share music, poetry, and stories from the To Repair Project — a 60-day, 7,000-mile solo journey to over 40 cities around the country collecting Black stories on what repair looks like that inspired this monumental composition.
Wondemagegnehu, the conductor of the Chapel Choir and Viking Chorus at St. Olaf, is committed to supporting diverse communities through music-related social justice movements. He co-founded the Justice Choir movement, collaborated on several nationally-distributed radio programs on Black Music, and has served as the guest artistic director for Minnesota’s One Voice Mixed Chorus, one of the largest LGBTQ+ choirs in North America. In 2019 Wondemagegnehu was named artist-in-residence for the Harvard University Glee Club, where they co-created and executed the truth-telling W.E.B. DuBois Musical Project. He is the recent recipient of the St. Olaf faculty’s inaugural Social Justice Award.
Whitney Harvey will deliver the keynote address on Saturday, titled The Journey: A Practical Application of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She will encourage participants to think about privilege, share her personal and professional DEI journey, and discuss real-life and practical application of DEI in the workplace.
Harvey is the senior director of workforce diversity and inclusion at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, where she assists and supports chamber member companies in advancing and cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities throughout the state of Minnesota. She previously served as the diversity, equity, and inclusion director at Prime Therapeutics, the organization’s first full-time resource dedicated to internal DEI.
As part of the symposium, the St. Olaf Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office will also recognize a number of students, staff, and faculty with the Equity and Inclusion Leadership and Service Award. The award recognizes outstanding leadership and engagement in creating, advancing, and sustaining social change for the well-being of diverse and underserved communities. The inaugural recipients of the award are:
- Andrea Diaz ’22
- Anja Dulin ’23
- Mariam Prater ’23
- Norma Charlton, Assistant Director of Equity and Intercultural Engagement
- Marie New, Director of Enrollment Operations
- Nayeli Trujillo, Assistant Director of Academic Support
- Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Professor of English
- Jeremy Loebach, Associate Professor of Psychology
- Jonathan Naito, Associate Professor of English
“Selecting these recipients was extremely difficult because we have many deserving members and impactful work happening all over campus,” Pabón says. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to highlight these individuals and their work at the symposium.”