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Shape our Systems for Collective Success: A snapshot

The 2019 Professional Development Conference is in the books, but the work is just beginning. Here’s a look at some of the conversation.

By Cory Phare

June 3, 2019

Dr. Ruha Benjamin speaking on stage in front of a screen.The 2019 Metropolitan State University of Denver Professional Development Conference kicked off with keynote speaker Ruha Benjamin, Ph.D., ruminating on squiggly red lines.

“If you type ‘underserved’ and ‘overserved’ into Word, the latter isn’t recognized as correct,” said the Princeton University associate professor. “If there isn't a word for it, we can’t talk about it. If we can’t talk about it, we can’t change it.”

Fittingly, the theme of this year’s conference, “Shape Our Systems for Collective Success,” provided a similar catalyst for the 558 event registrants who participated either in person or via streaming the marquis presentations from identical morning and afternoon sessions.

“As a committee, we feel it’s important we’re having this conversation tomorrow, a week from now, six months from now,” said Amber Mozet, conference chair. “We wanted to look at how we’re making actual changes for widespread shared success – for students, workplace culture, everyone at MSU Denver.”

In addition to Benjamin’s keynote, attendees were able to choose from more than 30 comprehensive breakout-session topics, receive complimentary professional head shots and set their own goals for systemic change with prompts from the program insert; MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., also participated in a fireside chat with Mozet and Danielle Farrell, manager of Learning and Development.

MSU Denver employees listening to session led by Kyla Hines.Meredith Flynn, Ph.D., associate director for the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design, appreciated the conference’s multifaceted approach to growth for work and beyond.

“I really like the mixed nature of the sessions,” she said. “It not only helps you to develop as an employee but as an individual human being.”

One of the sessions Flynn attended was “Inclusion at MSU Denver Starts With Me!” where Ione Priest, accessibility-technology manager, and Gabe Christie, instructional-accessibility manager, looked at how individuals can affect systemic change at the grassroots level.

“Inclusion and accessibility are at the core of who we are,” Christie said. “It’s about engaging the conversation of who’s the ‘in’ group and ‘out’ group. We have to ask how we can move our systems to meet folks where we are and ask ourselves how we can retain that for the success of our students.

“At the end of the day, if they do well, we all get that win.”

Professional Development Conference 2019 committee members on stage.Attendees will receive and are encouraged to fill out a post-event survey this week in their MSU Denver email.


Photos 1 and 3: Katie Wold-Rodda

Photo 2: Diane Yee


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