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 March 30 'Diversity and Democracy' event features Fries-Britt 



March 23, 2010

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab


March 30 'Diversity and Democracy' event features Fries-Britt 


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Sharon Fries-Britt, associate professor of higher education at the University of Maryland, will be the speaker for the second installment of Slippery Rock University's four-part, educational series "Diversity and Democracy at SRU: Identification, Development, and Expression of our Selves and our Communities" March 30.

The series was created as means of publicly engaging the community on important campus issues. All sessions are in the University Union.

Fries-Britt will discuss Expression of Identities in a Democratic Society: What Faculty and Staff Say and Convey Matter." She will speak at 12:30 p.m.

In 1998-1999 she was a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research and practice in higher education focuses on race, equity and diversity. 

She is particularly interested in the experiences of high-ability black collegians and their interactions with faculty, peers and the extended black community. 

A co-principal investigator on a grant to study race, equity and diversity in the 23 southern and border states funded by the Lumina Foundation, Fries-Britt is also a consultant and research associate for the National Society of Black Physicists exploring patterns of success. Prior to her academic appointments, she served for nearly 10 years as an assistant to the vice president for student affairs at the University of Maryland College Park. She has been an independent consultant for more than 20 years and has developed and implemented innovative training programs in the area of racial sensitivity for professional organizations both inside and outside of higher education. 

She has served as a consultant on these issues for the Eastern Management Training Center for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management since 1992 and has worked with numerous colleges and universities and national organizations.

Fries-Britt received the University of Maryland, Woman of Color Award in 1992 after earning the university's Minority Staff Member of the Year Award. She received the university's Associate Staff Outstanding Contributions Award and was selected by students to receive the New Professionals Presenter of the Year Award, MACUHO 1985 Member, Omicron Delta Kappa honor.

She is a member of the American College Personnel Association, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the American Association for Higher Education and the American Association of University Professors.

The four-part SRU program was created, coordinated and planned by students, staff, faculty and administrators, said Jessamine Montero, senior officer for diversity and inclusion and assistant professor and director of the Act 101 Program. "Equally important, the series will also be implemented, presented and engaged in by students, staff, faculty and administrators."

Each event will offer a series of panel discussions. The 11 a.m. March 30 panel session titled "Effective Communication Styles" will be led by Nick Barcio, president of SRU's Student Government Association and a member of the board of governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and Christine Pease-Hernandez, SRU assistant professor of communication, The 2 p.m. session, titled "Expressions," and will be led by Obianuju Anyaogu, a business management major from New Kensington, and Kateeka Harris, director of student conflict resolution services. 

>The 3:30 p.m. "Satire and Irony as Forms of Political Expression" panel will be led by Rachela Permenter, professor of English.

Plans calls for the program to walk participants through the developmental progression of how individuals and groups develop identities, express identities, deal with conflict/dissonance involving identities and ally with one another given those identities.       

Each workshop panel will have a moderator facilitating and guiding participants to practice and model effective listening and communication skills. Each panel workshop session will have 45 minutes of presentation, with at least a half-hour set aside for open discussion. 

The moderator will control the portable microphone, selecting those volunteering to speak in turn. Anyone who attends a session will have the opportunity to make observations, statements, assertions, arguments or claims. However, before such observations may be made, the person handed the microphone must be able to restate the previous statement or claim in a manner that satisfies the person who uttered it.

The series opened earlier this week with Tony Norman, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist, as the speaker. The April 15 session is titled "Conflict of Identities in a Democratic Society" and will feature a media barrage of various ethnic and cultural communities' experiences. The series' final segment April 20 presents award-winning K-Chronicles cartoonist Keith Knight, speaking on injustice and image justifications.

"The series is continuing discussions on how we are able to provide and uphold academic freedom, integrity and discourse while at the same time honoring and being sensitive to our diverse opinions and identities. The Diversity and Inclusion Office intends to have an educational series each fall and spring semester as a way to cultivate and promote the development of our individual and collective thoughts and voices - respectfully, educationally and with full rigor. In so doing, we uphold the tenets of higher education as well as the United States of America itself," Montero said.

The overall purpose of the series is to bring all campus constituents together, to publicly structure and role model the strengths of both campus and public capacity to hear and nourish different voices, engage in conversations of respect with underrepresented, marginalized, excluded and/or excluded peoples on a level meeting ground in which all participate are equals; and provide a commitment to ask how we, as intelligent and caring citizens, not only talk but also walk the challenge of the American experiment with pluralist democracy, Montero said.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives. -

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