DEI rises with 2024 celebration banquet - The University of Tulsa
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DEI rises with 2024 celebration banquet

President Brad R. Carson and Anna Deavere Smith

Actress and writer Anna Deavere Smith was the keynote speaker at The University of Tulsa’s 2024 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Awards Banquet, which was themed “And Still We Rise.”

The purpose of the annual banquet is to recognize and celebrate students, faculty, staff, alumni, and organizations that have demonstrated a continued commitment to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion at the university and beyond.

The evening began with a welcome by Kelli McLoud-Schingen, who retired last month after serving nearly four years as the head of UTulsa’s Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, followed by a poetry reading from Bethany Hoskins, vice president of the Association of Black Collegians (ABC).

“We chose the theme ‘And Still We Rise’ to reflect our ongoing commitment to DEI and cross-cultural understanding in an age when the work of Inclusion is being attacked due to ignorance,” McLoud-Schingen said.

Before the keynote address, Midge Dellinger, oral historian for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, spoke about the Presbyterian School for Indian Girls (PSIG) project and the importance of the research. English and creative writing undergraduates Abby and Hannah Ridley, and graduate student Abby Rush (BA ’22, MA ’24), who worked on the project, each read a biography of one of the students who attended the school, composed from research they had conducted.

Smith was introduced by Quraysh Ali Lansana, a poet and visiting associate professor of English and creative writing. Smith has appeared in “Inventing Anna,” “The West Wing,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “Blackish” – among other works. As a playwright, Smith is credited with having created a new form of theater called “docudramas,” which focus on contemporary issues from multiple points of view and composed of excerpts from hundreds of interviews.

Smith “shared stories that reminded us of the power to connect across culture,” said McLoud-Schingen. “In the voice and mannerisms of real people that she interviewed throughout the country, she took us on a journey of humanity, giving us a window into the experiences of others and encouraging us all to be better story listeners now more than ever.”

Dionne Lambert (right), executive director for DEI, and representatives from the Asian American Students Association

Following the keynote address, awards were presented. The honorees were: Lansana for Faculty DEI Champion, Danielle Macdonald (Anthropology) for Faculty DEI Changemaker, Ebony Easiley (BFA ’15) for Alumni DEI Champion, Mia Hoskison (Gilcrease Museum) for Staff DEI Champion, Meredith Barker (Admission) for Staff DEI Changemaker, Brittany Banh (BA ’24) for Student DEI Champion, Vishwasri Aleti (BS ’24) for Student DEI Changemaker, and the Asian American Students Association for Student Organization DEI Champion.