Reflections on Access, Equity and Excellence for Life Week
University of Denver students, alumni, faculty staff and community guests participated in the "Access, Equity and Excellence for Life Week" February 18-22, 2008. Co-sponsored by the DU Morgridge College of Education's Higher Education and Educational Administration Programs, guest presenters included Dr. Mitchel Livingston (VP for Student Affairs and Services, University of Cincinnati), Dr. Michael Young (Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, UC Santa Barbara), Dr Janina Montero (Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, UCLA), as well as Maria Guajardo (Director of the Office of Education and Children, Denver, CO), Shawn Worthy (Associate Professor, Metro State College of Denver), several MCE faculty, and the DU Center for Multicultural Excellence.
This week of interactive sessions began with a community reception, followed by daily panel discussion sessions designed to engage the community in dialogue around what it means to be an accessible, engaged, community-connected university. Higher Education students in the Student Development concentration also enjoyed a closed-door discussion with Dr. Livingston before he went on to meet with students who were visiting DU for the day from one of the MCE's community partners, Highline Academy.
Leighanne Regan, second year Higher Education doctoral student, was a key participant in the planning for this event. Originally from western Massachusetts, she received her B.A. in Classics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and continued at UMASS Amhearst to earn her M.Ed. in Higher Education. Leighanne initially found her passion for social justice issues from working with the Native American Living & Learning Community at the UMASS Amherst and by leading a World AIDS Day "Slam Jam" event on the campus. Leighanne hopes to combine her various interests in traveling with empowering young social justice activists all over the world. She currently works in the Educational Administration Programs office and serves on several university and MCE committees. Her thoughts...
Reflecting on Access, Excellence, and Equity for Life 2008, brings feelings of hope and place in the world bubbling to the surface. I felt so fortunate to have met our esteemed national guests Dr. Janina Montero, Dr. Michael Young, and Dr. Mitchel Livingston who brought with them incredible passion and knowledge of access issues and potential solutions from their respected campuses. The dialogues that faculty, staff, and students (both graduate and undergraduate alike) engaged in around the timely issue of P-20 access, excellence, and equity were both enlightening and purpose driven. Thus, my hope in the Morgridge College of Education?s success was renewed with the possibilities and vision of my peers and colleagues.
The week caused me to further realize my place at the University of Denver. Not only are we in a community where the work needs to be done and supported (both at DU and in Denver), we are actually in a place where the work is being done. The strength of our community partnerships, especially at Highline Academy, was evident in the co-participation of dialogue and action in Access Week. The biggest highlight of my week was walking fifty-one seventh graders around DU. I was able to hear and feel their excitement to be on campus. The students were taking in every moment, many moments that I take for granted everyday on campus, and trying to remember places in order to share the experience with their parents later. The Highline Academy students put the week into perspective and I was reminded of my place and privilege in education yet again.
The P-20 access conversation must not start and end with one week a year. Our Morgridge College of Education has the capacity and the ability to play a crucial community and national role in creating access, excellence, and equity in our P-20 system. I encourage and challenge all students, faculty and staff across departments to renew hope, better understand our privilege, and lastly our place in pushing the necessary larger systematic change forward to create a more accessible and equitable education for all students.