Students, faculty and staff gathered throughout the week Feb. 9-14, for the first-ever Lead with Love event series. Sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives, the campus-wide program was designed to celebrate a shared commitment to leading with love in all that we do.
The week offered several interactive events that encouraged purposeful conversation on nurturing a diverse and inclusive culture on campus. Key events included an interactive courtroom exercise, a discussion on systemic racism, a poverty simulation and a seminar on non-invasive ways to take care of those in need. Denise Gregory, assistant provost for Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives, noted that the common thread across all the activities was relationship building.
“People have been in spaces they haven’t been before and had conversations they haven’t had before, and I hope they will continue them," she said. "Whether it be how you love someone with boundaries or you talk about race with someone, whatever we can do to foster that, we want to do that, and we hope these relationships continue after this."
The programming was developed in collaboration with schools and departments across campus and began with a candlelight service led by University President Andrew Westmoreland and First Lady Jeanna Westmoreland. Senior Claudia Stephens attended several of the week’s events and appreciated how much audience engagement was encouraged.
“This week was a great way to jumpstart conversations about what we see happening around us and finding ways to make a difference,” Stephens said. “The events I attended helped me relate more to different people from myself and recognize ways in which I can stand alongside people who are walking lives not all that different from my own and support them in their journey, just as they can support me.”
Gregory and the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives hope to bring the series back in the future.
“We want to continue this every year, and we’re hoping the students continue to take it on as a future tradition,” Gregory said.