Diversity Advocate brings insight to Ferris

Author speaks at Ferris about acceptance of diverse cultures

Ferris State University hosted the members of the West Michigan Presidents’ Council Compact Committee for an event about developing an inclusive campus on Oct. 10.

Ferris President David Eisler introduced the keynote speaker Damon Williams. He also warmly welcomed many key audience members.

The event in Business Room 111 was nearly full with about a 70-person audience comprised of diversity leaders, interested staff members, and even a group from the Changsha Social Work College from Hunan Province, China.

Ferris construction management Sophomore Corey Watkins said he is glad there are people coming to Ferris to talk about diversity. “Knowing the university cares about diversity is really meaningful. Ferris isn’t the most diverse school I could have chosen but I love it here and I’m excited to see how new diversity programs can help the university grow,” said Watkins.

Ferris’ population is made up of roughly 79% white students. Rounding out the top three of the largest population is black with 7.5% and Hispanic at 2.2%.

Williams’ presentation titled, “Building an Inclusive Campus with an Eye Towards the Retention of Faculty, Staff and Students of Color,” promoted the acceptance of diversity on campus and he addressed the issues of racism.

“Cultivate those not involved and engaged. We need to foster the next generation of students,” stressed Williams.

Williams reviewed the importance of institutions’ Chief Diversity Officer and the role of one in such position. He discussed many strategies to bring diversity in leadership positions in ways such as sponsoring females or minorities.

“As we continue our work toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive university community, presentations like this one help us explore ways to recruit and retain faculty, staff and students of color,” said David Pilgrim, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at Ferris in a press release.

Pilgrim also encouraged audience members to visit the Jim Crow Museum. The museum was established in 1996 with the goal to bring awareness and begin the discussion of race.

An economic model of leadership that Williams created was a key point of his presentation. He explained how passion, potential, and purpose is the result of combining credentials, relationships, role models, and experiences.

Williams is the vice president of programs, training, and youth development for the Boys and Girls Club of American. Prior to his current position he was the chief diversity officer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Williams also serves on the ACE Equity and Inclusions Adversity Board, the UC Berkeley Equality and Inclusion Advisory Board, the Gallaudet University Diversity Advisor and the National Diversity Council Executive board. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Negro Education and he has written several books.