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Black alumni reflect on how Ohio State prepared them for success

EHE reunion weekend brought together alumni, current students

Ohio State University alumni who are now educators themselves returned to the Columbus campus Sept. 30-Oct. 1 for the College of Education and Human Ecology’s (EHE) Black Alumni Reunion weekend.

During a Sept. 30 panel discussion at the Faculty Club, alumni who are professors and administrators at public school systems and institutions of higher learning around the country shared how attending Ohio State prepared them for career success. They also spoke about how they promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in education.

“We start with the admissions process, and we admit a diverse body of students,” said April Peters-Hawkins, associate chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the University of Houston’s College of Education. “We get diverse perspectives in the classroom in terms of addressing issues of equity. The other thing we do is provide and require students to engage with diverse texts written by diverse scholars.”

Schools, both at the K-12 and collegiate levels, can advance DEI by providing opportunities for students to have real-world experiences in the communities that the schools serve, said Dionne Blue, Columbus City Schools chief equity officer.

Blue stressed the importance of “building partnerships with communities of color, intersectional communities where your university is, so that students can have a different perspective, not just the textbook perspective, and also have a more nuanced perspective.”

Panelists offered advice for current Ohio State students on how to make the most of their education.

“Read, and then read again, and then read some more, and then read some more. … It’s amazing how much reading can just open up whole different worlds,” said John Singer, associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Texas A&M University’s School of Education and Human Development. “Let’s not undervalue the importance of reading.”

The panel discussion also featured D-L Stewart, professor and chair of the Higher Education Department in the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education; Jamel Donnor, professor of education, William and Mary Law School; and moderator Mark Gooden, professor of education leadership, Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Prior to the panel discussion, retired Ohio State administrator Robert Ransom delivered a keynote address in which he reflected on his 30-year tenure at the university. Known to colleagues and students as “Dr. Bob,” Ransom served as director of several offices, including the Special Services Program, the Nigerian Education Program and the Office of Affirmative Action. He retired as director of EHE’s Office of Equity and Diversity.

Achieving longevity in a career requires mapping out a clear vision and staying focused on goals despite obstacles that arise, Ransom said.

“Remember who you are, remember what your mission is, what your goal is,” he said.

The EHE Black Alumni Reunion weekend also included an open house with Dean Don Pope-Davis, roundtable discussions with alumni and current students, a tailgate before the Buckeyes’ homecoming game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, and participation in the unveiling and dedication of the new National Pan-Hellenic Council Plaza.

For more information, visit the Ohio State’s Black Alumni Society website.

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