Providing meaningful scholarship for the future of Illinois

The College of Education engages faculty and students with leading senior scholars in different fields of educational scholarship

Dean's Diversity Lecture Series

The College of Education provides rich opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to hear from internationally renowned scholars who address important issues of diversity. To broaden these efforts, the College sponsors the Dean's Diversity Lecture Series, which encourages ongoing introspection on timely issues of equity and diversity. These talks offer a space for productive dialogue about concerns such as perceived inequities, biases, and microaggressions that impact our campus community.

This academic year, the College has invited speakers whose expertise encompasses a unique set of topics. Speakers were chosen based on feedback from last year's attendees. The lectures provide action oriented strategies for concrete institutional change. Attendees walk away with new ideas on how to support each other as a campus community while also working towards healing in the face of injustice. Each of the distinguished scholars will deliver a lecture that is open to the campus community at the Illini Union. Also, there are a number of ways to access the lecture series via a video of each speaker's talk featured on this website, or a podcast interview of the speaker followed by a blog, which are made available by the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL).

Upcoming Speakers

Muhammad Khalifa

Muhammad Khalifa

Robert H. Beck Professor of Ideas in Education in Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development at University of Minnesota

December 4
12:00 - 1:00 pm, Illini Union 314B  

Culturally Responsive School Leadership 

How should humanization, anti-oppressiveness, and cultural responsiveness be systematized in school? This presentation focuses on how school leaders can effectively serve minoritized students—those who have been historically marginalized in school and society. Research suggests that leaders must be central to culturally responsive school reforms, and demonstrates how leaders can engage students, parents, teachers, and communities in ways that positively impact learning by honoring indigenous heritages and local cultural practices.

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa's research examines how urban school leaders enact culturally responsive leadership practices. He is the author of the newly released book, Culturally Responsive School Leadership (Harvard Education Press). He is also co-editor of three other books and has been recently published in several top education journals. In addition to his urban work in the U.S., Dr. Khalifa has engaged in school leadership reform in African and Asian countries, including a recent U.N. project in East Africa.

Dr. Khalifa's lecture is co-sponsored by the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, the Student Cultural Programming Fee.


Oiyan Poon

OiYan Poon

Speaking Date: Jan. 31, 2019
Assistant Professor in Higher Education Leadership at Colorado State University

Drawing from scholarly traditions of Critical Race Theory, the sociology of race, and ethnic studies, Dr. Poon has employed a range of methods in her award-winning research including participatory action research, critical discourse analysis, case studies, ethnographic interviews, and geospatial analysis. Her interests focus on the racial politics and discourses of college access, higher education organization and policy, affirmative action, and Asian Americans.

Her talk will examine how the media discourse on recent rollback of affirmative-action guidelines in admissions perpetuates misconceptions in the public debate of affirmative action and college access. She will also discuss the racial-identity politics centered on Asian Americans in the affirmative-action policy debate.

Estela Mara Bensimon

Estela Mara Bensimon

Speaking Date: April 25, 2019
Professor of Higher Education in School of Education at University of Southern California Rossier and Director of Center for Urban Education at USC

With a focus on increasing racial equity in higher education outcomes for students of color, Dr. Bensimon developed the Equity Scorecard, which is a process for using inquiry to drive changes in institutional practice and culture. Since its founding in 1999, the Center for Urban Education has worked with thousands of college professionals to help reverse the impact of historical and structural disadvantages that prevent many students of color from excelling in higher education.

Her talk will focus on principles for achieving equity and drawing on examples of how to catalyze a process of sustained change by engaging practitioners in equity-focused inquiry. Attendees will be exposed to tools that integrate equity as a criterion for assessment across all institutional practices through the framework of the Equity Scorecard.