Rulers of Engagement Meet at UM

Representatives from seven SEC universities gather for inaugural Multicultural Network roundtable


Representatives of seven SEC universities met at the University of Mississippi for the SEC Multicultural Network Roundtable.

OXFORD, Miss. – Sharing the achievements and challenges of promoting diversity at their respective institutions, representatives of seven SEC universities met at the University of Mississippi Monday (Feb. 17) for the inaugural meeting of the SEC Multicultural Network Roundtable.

Thirteen people representing UM, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, Texas A&M University, and the universities of Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee met at The Inn at Ole Miss for the event. Topics of discussion during the morning sessions included: “What and How We Do What We Do” and “How Your Campus Challenges and Supports Your Work.”

Afternoon sessions focused on “Are Your Diversity Initiatives Diverse?: Engaging All Students” and “Looking Ahead: Developing the SEC Multicultural Network.”

“The primary purpose of this event was for leaders of multiculturalism and inclusion programs and services at each institution to increase their awareness of the activities and events on other SEC campuses,” said Valeria Ross, assistant dean of students for multicultural affairs and volunteer services at UM and coordinator of the event. “Hopefully, by sharing ideas and brainstorming, we can strengthen and improve what we’re doing at our respective schools.”

Also representing UM at the roundtable were E.J. Edney, coordinator of Greek Affairs, and three student affairs graduate assistants: Courtney Rollins of Oxford, Kaitlyn Vogt of Cedar Grove, N.C., and Lindsay Wright of Oxford.

During their dialogue, participants discussed programming strategies, campaigns to promote student respect, civility and expectations of inclusivity. They also compared marketing materials, talked about finding solutions to campus conflicts and addressed fundraising issues

While each SEC university represented has existing partners, allies and advocates, the staff recognized and acknowledged the need for more resources.

“One of the common denominators we found is that the multicultural program is a valued program on all our campuses,” Ross said. “The challenge is to engage all students and to work collaboratively with our multicultural organizations and all groups on our campus.”

Other attendees were Chandra Allen, director of multicultural services at LSU; director Cedric Gathings, assistant director Ra’Sheda Forbes, interns Noelle Avenmarg and Brittany Clark, all of the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center at MSU; Lane McLelland, director of Crossroads Community Center at Alabama.; John Jones, director of the Center for Multiculturalism and Diversity Education at Arkansas; Tanisha Jenkins, director of multicultural student life at Tennessee.; and Jennifer Ford, director of multicultural services at Texas A&M.

The roundtable ended with discussions about training for graduate students, logo and branding, leadership that will sustain the SEC multicultural administrators network, and a host institution for the next meeting in 2015.

For more information about the SEC Multicultural Network, contact Valeria Ross at or call the Dean of Students Office at 662-915-7247.