SIDE group

Group picture of 2012 SIDE participants

Photographer: Elizabeth Held

SIDE Raimondi-Adamova 2012

Thomas Raimondi speaks with Dominika Adamova during the training

Photographer: Elizabeth Held

SIDE Brooks and Cutcher

Fairmont State University staffer Tara Brooks (L) shares a laugh with Cat Cutcher from African Studies during SIDE

Photographer: Elizabeth Held

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SIDE diversity training reminds participants why one size does not fit all

Twenty participants from Ohio University and beyond earned certificates in diversity training this week at the third annual Summer Institute for Diversity Education (SIDE).

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion sponsored training ran July 8 through July 11 and focused on the positive impact of diversity at the University and throughout the region.

Led by Western Michigan University Professor Mark P. Orbe, an internationally known educator, author and consultant, the 30-hour curriculum is designed to empower and train participants in the art of effective diversity programming on campus and in local communities.

The institute was attended by faculty and staff from Ohio University's Chillicothe and Athens campuses and its Proctorville and Pickerington centers, in addition to nearby Hocking College and Fairmont State University in West Virginia. This year marked the first time that SIDE was made available to residents in neighboring states.

Orbe said this year's group dynamic led to thought-provoking conversation about diversity in all of its forms.

"Often times when people think about diversity, they automatically think about race. And the curriculum is always set to talk about race, but also talk about gender, spirituality, sexual orientation, and all these different things," Orbe said. "I think this group more so than others have from the very beginning embraced a more broad definition of diversity."

During the training, each participant created a professional development plan, detailing how they will use their diversity training. Department of Mechanical Engineering Chair Greg Kremer said he hopes the institute will enable him to attract a broader diversity of mechanical engineering students in the future.

"A better understanding of all aspects of diversity hopefully will help us look at ourselves to make sure that we're not doing things unconsciously to drive people away," Kremer said. "Being aware of those things that are neither good nor bad but are just different and trying to make sure that the face that we put forward is one that is more inclusive."

For Associate Director of Education Abroad Lori Lammert, the workshop served as a reminder that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work when dealing with Education Abroad students or even colleagues from different backgrounds.

"I think all of us are still growing and learning. And sometimes as administrators or educators at the University, we're challenged by cultural contexts … It's sort of a reminder to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, and step back and appreciate where people are coming from," Lammert said.

This year's attendees were addressed by Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis and David Descutner, dean of University College and executive vice provost forundergraduate education. Upon completion, each participant received a certificate in diversity training and three continuing education units (CEU).

Phyllis Underwood, an academic adviser at the Pickerington Center, said she plans to recommend the program to colleagues in her office.

"The time passes quickly and I've really learned a lot," Underwood said.