“My mother was convinced that being educated with a mix of people was the greatest and most realistic education that you could possibly get,” Joseph M. McShane, SJ, president of Fordham, said, speaking on diversity at a March 4 conference.
Surrounded by students, alumni, and staff, Father McShane said, “It’s only when you break out of your own comfortable home, neighborhood, way of seeing things, that you’re stretched and that you grow and become leaders. To settle into what is familiar creates within us laziness of heart as well as mind.”
Father McShane’s remarks kicked off “Diversity Leadership in a Global Society,” a conference that addressed the theme of a weeklong campus-wide reflection on race relations in America. The event was organized by the Offices of Career Services (OCS) and Multicultural Affairs, and sponsored by Johnson & Johnson.
In a series of workshops and lectures, including a keynote address by Claude Mangum, PhD, professor emeritus of African and African-American studies, students were encouraged to embrace their differences in order to enhance their professional growth. The sooner they have the tools necessary to understand and embrace diversity, the easier it will be to apply to the workforce, said Maria Aponte, GSAS ’14, diversity initiatives coordinator for OCS.
Johnson & Johnson Chief Diversity Officer Anthony Carter, FCRH ’76, stressed the importance of diversity in the workforce.
“I’ve really gotten grounded in what that role means in terms of mission, vision, and purpose,” he said. “[It] collectively brings us all into a space where we have to share our differences and similarities in order to see our greatness.”
Determined to give back to the school that gave so much to him, Carter helped secure a $25,000 gift from the company to sponsor the conference and fuel Fordham’s mission of embracing diversity.
In the midst of growing racial tensions in the United States, this conference and week of reflection came at a perfect time, students said.
“One of the things a Jesuit university teaches us is to be mindful of changes in society and issues that effect everyone,” said Fordham College at Rose Hill senior Princess Chukwuneke.
“This week gets the whole university to reflect on the things that are really important.”