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Last week, Wanda and I attended the first presentation in a series entitled, “Engaging and Supporting the Wake Forest Student.” It is hard to resist a title like that. There were about 15 attendees, most of whom were teaching faculty. The series is co-sponsored by the Teaching and Learning Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. This first session was about engaging and supporting students of color. Alta Mauro, Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, began by explaining why an intercultural mindset is more effective than one that is monocultural. Hattie Mukombe, Associate Dean of Diversity Admissions, gave a profile of the incoming freshman class. 25% of the class are from minority populations, the highest ever. Catherine Ross, Director of the Teaching and Learning Center, gave the final presentation, challenging faculty to think how we can foster learning environments in which diversity becomes one of the resources that stimulates learning. She explored the notion of “stereotype threat,” as defined by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson. She gave a number of useful suggestions on how instructors can reduce stereotype threat and construct an inclusive classroom. In conclusion, she emphasized that with these universal principles, all students in the class benefit, not just minority students.

Part Two in the series is tomorrow, where Nate French will talk about First Generation College and High-Need Students. Part Three is November 15, where the topic will be International Students. In the spring, the series will include sessions on LGBTQ students and students with physical and learning disabilities. I recommend these workshops to anyone who has contact with our Wake Forest students!