What do your colleagues have to say about ODEI professional development?

“It has been a highlight every semester to continue learning about important social issues with other staff and faculty at the university. The workshops are well-developed and spark conversation and learning around sensitive topics that we may not often discuss in our everyday lives. I am so glad that UMSL values our continued growth and learning!”

(Shannon Ahrndt, Department of Communication & Media, Associate Teaching Professor)

The training programs provided by the ODEI have dramatically changed the way I approach curriculum design. Participating in sessions on Anti-Racist practices, inclusivity, understanding privilege, and ways to advocate for change have taught me to constantly question my assumptions as an instructor and colleague. They have provided me with resources on how to see the world through the eyes of students, and have opened pathways for me to create content in my courses that is more inclusive of everyone in the room or Zoom. I have become more mindful of the need for reflection, and have shared resources provided by ODEI with so many colleagues. Perhaps most importantly, I have made connections with my colleagues across the University landscape, and have learned so much about their empathy and goals for their students and for their individual programs. ODEI is working to help us to be more connected to our full community, and is opening doors to help us become actively anti-racist educators. This past year has taught me that it is not enough to simply be not racist; we have to fight racism through better and more mindful educational practices. In this year of change and upheaval, ODEI has changed my teaching and my life in profound ways.”

(Lynn Staley, English Dept. and Gender Studies Affiliate, Teaching Professor)

“I did not know what to expect when I registered for these courses. However, to my surprise the courses were very informational. Marlo provided materials like articles, worksheets and videos that made it interesting and made me think differently. The topics were very interactive and I liked being able to see the content being discussed applied to real life. It was good to learn something new and to look at things in a different light. I loved the self-reflection exercises that made me step back and take a look at the areas that I needed to change myself. It was also very welcoming to put a face to a name with people on campus that I have not had a chance to interact with or work with yet. I highly recommend taking these courses and be open to learn something new about yourself or to discover new perspectives about others. We are very fortunate to have this resource at our hands on campus!”

(Brooke Lawrence ITS Strategic Communications Associate)

“I learned so much during the trainings I attended. The sessions got me out of my comfort zone in a good way and allowed me to work through my thoughts and what I was learning. I went through the active listening and unconscious bias sessions and I am able to apply what I learned to help me lead the students that I supervise much better. Marlo does a great job of taking complex ideas and teaching them in a way that anyone could understand. She creates an environment where asking questions and thinking out loud is encouraged. These are great sessions for people who know nothing, but also for those who have a lot of knowledge already.”

(Kelly Cartner, Recreation and Wellness Center, Assistant Director of Memberships)

I was familiar with many of the concepts we covered; however, I greatly benefited from the opportunity to consider ways to promote inclusivity at UMSL on a day-to-day basis. The course was supportive while also encouraging us to push ourselves to make changes.  I have enthusiastically recommended ODEI professional development opportunities to my co-workers! Thank you for the rich learning experience.”      (anonymous)

“The sessions led by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in their professional development seminars are very enlightening.  The sessions provide valuable perspectives for viewing our complex world.  The sessions are active and fun as well.

(Steve Moehrle, Chair and Professor of Accounting)

“I just sent my coworkers an email promoting the classes and went into a little detail about the subject. I also forwarded the upcoming catalog and blog info.  Regarding my experience in Diversity 101, I found it to be a wonderful class. The videos and suggested readings were eye-openers and thought-provoking.  I loved hearing the life experiences of my classmates, which colored their personal views.  My only complaint was that the class took way more of a time commitment than I really had.  I let my coworkers know this, but also told them you’re offering short courses now, too, which might appeal to them if they didn’t think they had time for the semester class.

Class opened my eyes to how little I actually knew……from the difference between saying “”Black Lives Matter”” and “”All Lives Matter””, to many unconscious biases.  And, probably the best part was that it gave me an appetite to read books and articles on subjects I’d rarely read about, and see how we’ve advanced so little through history.  Books I read led me to more books, and I’d see how interconnected life has been over the centuries.  And, it reinforced that I need to stand up to injustice and not be a bystander. It made me want to be a positive force for change.

 (Mindy Thurmond, University Advancement, Office Support Associate)

“I completed Diversity 101 and 201 and learned so much about my UMSL colleagues and their perspectives regarding diversity. Instructors like Marlo provide informative structure to each session that led to robust conversations. I felt like I was in a safe space in the class and have tools to better communicate with others with different perspectives.”

(Colette M. Dixon, PhD, Assistant Dean, College of Nursing)

“Marlo has accomplished so much in here first year at UMSL; it is impressive. I’ve taken several trainings over the years even before my time at UMSL and learn something new every time. I believe these sessions should be included as part of annual training.” (anonymous)

“I have really enjoyed attending a number of different ODEI professional development sessions. I enjoy learning about others and differing perspectives/opinions. It has been so informative to go through some of these series or courses. There are some topics that I personally know more about and then there are some that I signed up for to challenge myself and what I may have thought previously. Whether I knew a lot about the topic going in, I have always learned something new and expanded my knowledge. It has also been a great way to hear how other people view topics or think about things (like biases, inclusive language, and communication in the workplace) It has been a good way to speak more openly and also hear different backgrounds regarding sensitive topics that are hard to talk about sometimes because we fear we may say the wrong thing. There have been sessions and conversations surrounding race, ethnicity and cultural – and while these can be hard topics, I really appreciated that we were given a space to communicate and learn without feeling like it always had to be correct the first time. It was ok to grow as the sessions went on – the biggest part was to be open to learning and growing, especially on topics that one wasn’t as familiar with. There are many opportunities for small group discussion, which I felt enhanced the atmosphere because you weren’t just being lectured to. We were able to share our experiences and I believe that helped the group become closer and be more willing to share and be open toward one another. I have valued the ODEI professional development sessions I have attended and I have already signed up for more in the coming semester!”

(Britne Bacca-Haupt, Office of Student Enrichment & Achievement, Early Alert Coordinator )

“I attended over the summer Inclusive Language: Focus on LGBTQ and also Disability and What’s Culture Got to Do With It. All three had a variety of voices sharing their perspectives and often personal experiences. The participants in these courses also shared experiences and thoughtful questions that often deepened the discussion. Also, Dr. Hode sent web links after the sessions relevant to or discussed within each session. I plan to take some of the Spring 2021 courses. Thank you for offering these professional development opportunities! ”

  (Rachel Boehlow, Assistant Director, Career Services)

“I attended ODEI’s session about inclusive language and would highly recommend it to any colleague. The session was a great example of the importance of the language we use in both our everyday lives and professional interactions and how it can create spaces where everyone feels a sense of belonging.”

(Erin Whitteck, Ph.D. Assistant Director of CTL and Affiliate Faculty member in Chemistry and Biochemistry)

Every single conversation, event, or other ODEI professional development activity I have participated in has been worthwhile. I always learn something new, and I leave every session glad that I went. I enjoy connecting with other staff members I otherwise would not have met. I highly recommend these thoughtful, engaging, and collaborative professional development opportunities. “

(Cary Goldwasser, philanthropic communications specialist, Advancement)

“I have completed four ODEI professional development opportunities and learned something new about myself in addition to diversity, equity, and inclusion every time. What I found helpful was working through these concepts with other UM System family members. It was a beautiful process to recognize my bias and see them shift over the course of the three professional development sessions. It is even more meaningful to know that I am transforming at the same time as my peers. Marlo is amazing at fostering an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels welcomed. She can break down complex concepts in ways that helped me understand how this impacts my lived experiences. I would highly recommend anyone who can participate in ODEI professional development opportunities to do so. The ODEI Badge is quite the conversation starter if you attend all three sessions as well!“

(Kyle Lackey, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Graduate Assistant)

“I participated in the semester course on diversity and found the class to be very thought provoking. The course gave me new insights into my own personal life experiences and how they influence my current reality. The course helped me to be more aware of words and actions I say and do and how those can easily be misconstrued by those on the receiving end.  And also how what I say or do can be a microaggression. The best part for me was the interactions with others and all of the wonderful suggestions on books to read to better understand St. Louis and Race Relations and just the history of brokenness towards people of color. My favorites were:  “” The Broken Heart of America””, multiple books about Coe Ridge (from the perspective of the Coe’s and from the perspective of outsiders), and “”Just Mercy””. I have shared my copies of these with my son who is a DJO (Deputy Juvenile Officer) in St. Louis and lives the racism that still exists, and even purchased “”The Broken Heart of America”” for my pastor who likes to study history. Well worth the time and effort required to complete the course.”

(Dr. Linda Gaither, Assistant Adjunct Professor, College of Education, Educator Preparation and Leadership)