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C+V Community Talk in Partnership with Heritage Months: Continuing the Conversation - The BLM Movement and DU

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Under the direction of the Black Community Initiatives (BCI) department, as well as the wider Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at DU and its respective affinity groups, the University of Denver has experienced the greatest number of celebrations and events honoring its Black community in its history, thus far. Black History Month 2022 at DU is overflowing with events from the beginning to the end of February. Though the increase in programs calls for jubilation, it also calls into question DU’s past relationship to its Black community. 

Following the MLK, Jr. Heritage Month C+V event, the Black History Heritage Month panel will continue the conversation of DU’s past, present and future relationship with the Black community through a lens of justice, with the intent to actionize the DEI Action Plan, Impact Area 4, Build Specific Support for our Black Community. Given their psychological, political and historical expertise, the panelists will highlight their shared experiences at DU and how they relate to the contemporary fights for justice, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Featuring DU community panelists:

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Dr. Christopher (Chris) Whitt
Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Denver

Dr. Christopher M. Whitt was the inaugural Vice Provost of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at Creighton University prior to coming to the University of Denver in April of 2021 as the university’s Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. At Creighton, he established the school’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, where he has successfully built frameworks and structures for diversity, equity, and inclusion from the ground up. 
Previously, Dr. Whitt served as founding director of the Center for Inclusive Leadership and Equity at Augustana College. He also served as the chair of Augustana’s Department of Political Science. Dr. Whitt has been recognized nationally for his teaching as a political science professor as well as his leadership and community engagement. At the University of Denver, Dr. Whitt has embarked on refining the structure of DEI across the institution to grow from an Office of DEI to a division serving and supporting the whole university community. Justice is at the core of the renewed focus on prioritization of DEI that Dr. Whitt is working collaboratively to bring to DU. He is bolstering structures to support both the operations of DEI as well as its academic engagement. Along with partners across the university, Dr. Whitt hopes to expand DU’s footprint nationally as an innovator in DEI and a destination of choice for potential students, faculty, and staff from a wide variety of intersecting backgrounds. 
Degree(s) Dr. Whitt holds a Ph.D. in government and politics from the University of Maryland, where he also earned an M.A. His dissertation was titled “Unaffordable Outcomes: The Wealth Gap, Black Political Participation and Public Policy Outcomes in the Black Interest.” He earned a B.A. in political science at Salisbury University

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Travis Heath
Associate Professor, University of Denver

Travis is a licensed psychologist and serves an Associate Professor at the University of Denver. He is the Co-Director of the International Disaster Psychology: Trauma and Global Mental Health graduate program as well as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Graduate School of Professional Psychology. 
Past work he’s been involved with looked at shifting from a multicultural approach to counseling to one of cultural democracy that invites people to heal in mediums that are culturally near. His most recent work involves incorporating the work of Black abolitionist scholars into psychotherapy, community healing, and uprising. His writing has focused on the use of rap music in narrative therapy, working with persons entangled in the criminal injustice system in ways that maintain their dignity, narrative practice stories as pedagogy, a co-created questioning practice called reunion questions, and community healing strategies. He is currently co-authoring the first book on Contemporary Narrative Therapy with David Epston and Tom Carlson due for release in June 2022. He has been fortunate to run workshops and speak in 10 countries to date.

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Nancy Jones
Executive Assistant to the Dean, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver

Nancy Jones is a University of Denver alumna and has been a staff member here for 13 years. She most recently served as the Manager for Accessions and Archival Processing in the University Libraries where she witnessed the underrepresentation of BIPOC communities in the University Archives. Nancy is passionate about telling the stories of communities of color here at DU.