Diversity Symposium

Since 2004, Harper College has hosted an annual Diversity Symposium. The diversity symposium provides Harper’s employees with a unique opportunity to learn and discuss important topics that are centered around diversity, equity, and inclusion. A keynote speaker, breakout sessions, and critical conversations create an atmosphere of reflection and transformation. All employees are invited and encouraged to attend the facilitated discussions and presentations that occur throughout the symposium. The discussions and activities highlight a variety of diversity, equity, and inclusion topics that promote critical thinking and reflection. This annual event continues to be an anchor for many employees.


Join us for our annual Diversity Symposium on Friday, October 21, 2022!

The annual Diversity Symposium is open to all faculty and staff. This year's theme is "Understanding Systemic Racism: Past, Present, and Making it Personal." Systemic racism impacts all of us collectively as a higher education institution. As the campus and the world become increasingly diverse, it is vital that we understand how systemic racism impacts and intersects with various historically underrepresented, underserved, and/or marginalized communities and groups; including, but not limited to, abilities/disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and/or socioeconomic status. Participants will gain deeper insight into how systemic racism impacts people, organizations, policies, and practices. Additionally, strategies for minimizing systemic barriers individually and collectively will be discussed to amplify the success of Harper's students, faculty, and staff. The depth of your level of understanding and/or knowledge of this topic should not detour you from attending. The diversity symposium creates a brave space for all employees to engage with each other, and opportunities to interact with phenomenal diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioners/clinicians to acquire new knowledge and perspectives are extended. We hope to see you there!

Continental breakfast and lunch will be served; however, registration is required. Registration closes on October 10, 2022.

Interpreters will be present. Participants who desire to request additional accommodations and/or have questions about accessibility at the diversity symposium should email ads@harpercollege.edu or call 847.925.6266 at least two weeks before the event.

Friday, October 21, 2022

8:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M.

Wojcik Center, Amphitheatre

Register Here—Registration closes October 10, 2022

Session Highlights:

Envisioning Justice in Higher Education amid Systemic Racism

Keynote Speaker: Dr. David Shih

Dr. David Shih’s keynote address will unpack contemporary antiracist discourse, and he will discuss how it may lead us toward justice goals or ineffectively away from them. As a professor, Dr. Shih encountered racism daily, and he will share some of the traumatic experiences that led to successful initiatives and interrupted systemic racism. Additionally, Dr. Shih will also discuss some of the disappointing setbacks he encountered throughout his career, which often caused the institutional status quo to be maintained. Dr. Shih will also encourage participants to consider how justice issues could be navigated at Harper College to minimize systemic racism and institutional barriers.


Featured Speaker: Dr. David Shih

Dr. David Shih will lead a discussion on anti-blackness and the role it plays in personal and institutional meaning-making processes. This discussion will unpack the historical layers of anti-blackness and the deep roots of racism in America. Dr. Shih will also discuss state-sponsored policies and practices that are rooted in anti-blackness. Participants will also have opportunities to share their experiences and/or perspectives about anti-blackness, and/or how racism has been ignored, minimized, or deferred in the planning and execution of antiracist dialogues and initiatives within their institutions or social circles.

Racialized Trauma in BIPOC Bodies

Featured Speakers: Chicago Compass Consulting, LLC

Michelle Byrd, MA, NCC, LPC; Tiffany Fang, NCC, LPC; & Dennis Nguyen, LCSW

Despite the ongoing experience of prejudice, bias, and microaggressions in day-to-day life for many individuals who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), there is very little guidance on how to identify and respond to ongoing experiences of race-based traumatic stress in places of work and education. This breakout session will provide an affirming, supportive, BIPOC-dedicated space for faculty and staff of color to reflect on the framework of race-based traumatic stress both within and outside academic settings.

This session offers a starting point for further conversation. Facilitated by three BIPOC clinicians who provide BIPOC-centered therapy and work for an organization committed to institutional anti-racism, the workshop will provide coping skills and strategies to identify and understand race-based traumatic stress. Facilitators will structure the guided discussion to model strategies for affirming BIPOC faculty and staff experiences while highlighting resources for getting support.

An Introduction to the Foundation of Race and Racism

Featured Speaker: Dr. Scott Cashman

The purpose of this session is not to place blame on individuals. Instead, we will explore the foundations of racism, both historically and culturally, and its 21st-century implications. We will briefly examine the difficulty of cross-cultural communication and consider how this might cause us to interpret situations and expressions differently; while using data to establish the reality of disadvantages in our country for many historically underrepresented and marginalized communities.

Addressing Systemic Racism through Critical and Compassionate Classrooms

Featured Speaker: Dr. Durene Wheeler

Participants will explore liberatory, engaging, critical, and culturally sustaining pedagogies to combat systematic racism in course development and implementation. Participants will strategize methods of creating critical thinking and yet compassionate classroom environments where all students belong and are able to take intellectual risks. Employing varied activities and direct instruction this workshop provides an opportunity for participants to explore ways of dismantling systems of oppression in their current role in the institution and/or society. Participants will explore how issues of power, privilege, and positionality are enacted in classrooms and offices around campus.

Breaking Ground: Building a New Foundation as an Anti-Racist Campus

Featured Speaker: Amanda Mesirow

Historically, campuses were built on a foundation of racism, with limited access and resources for minoritized groups. Currently, our responsibility is to break new ground and build again as an anti-racist campus. Everyone who works at a college is an educator and we are all here to help students on their academic journeys. Therefore, it is our duty, our burden, and our gift as educators to be on our own journeys towards an equitable and just future for our students and our world. Together, we will find ways to take action, dismantle systemic oppression, and rebuild with equity. Anti-racist work must be both accessible and constant. The closure of our time together at the symposium will provide tangible, actionable ways educators can speak truth to power and create a campus environment where the journey towards justice is acknowledged as unfinished, ongoing, and never neglected.

Previous Diversity Symposium Highlights

2004-2013: A wide range of DEI practitioners, clinicians, and guest speakers contributed to Harper’s DEI Symposiums. Past guest speakers included Dick Gregory and Tim Wise.

2014: Keynote speaker: James Wright “Unconscious Bias.”

2015: Theme: Global Aspects of Diversity and their Local Impact.

Keynote speaker: Steve Pemberton. Guest speakers: Dr. Michael Armato, Dr. Jeanine Ntihirageza, and Dr. Maria Krysan.

2016: Theme: Understanding Veterans and Deconstructing Gender

Keynote speaker: Kristin Beck. Guest speakers: Kelly Holt, a student veterans panel, and a panel discussion with the “Staff, Administrations and Faculty for Equality” (SAFE) Employee Resource Group.

2017: Theme: Student Persistence

Keynote speaker: Tom Brown. Guest speakers: José Leyba and Mario Rivas.

2018: Theme: Latinx Success Commitment at Harper

Keynote speaker: Dr. Michael Benitez. Guest speakers: Harper College’s Latinx Success Taskforce team.

2019: Theme: Indigenous Populations

Guest speakers: Dr. Anton Treuer and Adam Lopez.

2020: Theme: Disability and Ableism

Keynote speaker: Dr. Stephanie Cawthon. Guest speaker: Dr. Richard Reddick.

2021: Theme: Mental Health Awareness

A panel discussion was led by LaVonya Williams, DuBoi McCarty, and Jason Altmann. Guest speakers: Becky Fein, Jennifer Wegener, LCPC, CEAP, Andrew Wade, Stefan Bjes, M.S, Elle McClinton, Beth Ripperger, and Cindy Washburn.

Last Updated: 9/13/22