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Seventh Annual Cultural Diversity Conference
Within Our Grasp: Building
Community Through Diversity

Leveraging the Power of Global Diversity

March 1, 2007

President Halstead's Welcoming Remarks and
Introduction of Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun

Good morning!

It’s my privilege to extend a warm welcome to our Seventh Annual Cultural Diversity Conference: Within our Grasp—Building Community through Diversity.

This year’s conference theme is “Leveraging the Power of Global Diversity” and is designed to bring awareness of the many issues confronting our community. It includes the dual dimensions that: 1) we can leverage our collective power; and 2) do so in this global world in which we live. It is about respecting differences.

Thus, you will find an array educational sessions ranging from fostering cross-cultural communication to creating your own borderlands; from the transformative power of the arts to changing immigration policies for international students. From disability and diversity to women’s rights as human rights.

Today’s celebration of diversity will culminate with our SANKOFA African Dance and Drum Ensemble plus our SUNY Brockport dancers.

This is a unique opportunity to explore and challenge your own thoughts about how you can make a difference within your community and the global world in which we live.

One of my major goals for the College is to embrace diversity. This overarching goal is central to our goals in the Planning Matrix which goes to College Senate for endorsement on March 5.

Another concrete example of my commitment to diversity is our Presidential Fellows Program successfully launched this year in the person of three outstanding faculty members.

This diverse trio of faculty from the University of Kentucky, Yale, and University of Buffalo have already enriched our departments of English, Anthropology and History, African and African-American Studies. So, many thanks to Ryneeta Davis, Kenneth Nixon and Carl Davila who have added to our diversity.

This successful program continues next year with new Presidential Fellows as Deans and department chairs make choices.

I’d be remiss if I did not thank the Diversity Committee and give special thanks to the Diversity Conference Planning Committee co-chaired by Joel Frater and Sheila Strong.

Now it is my distinct pleasure to introduce today’s keynoter—Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.

Born in Chicago, her father was a law enforcement officer—a “Renaissance man” who played seven instruments and spoke several languages. Her mother was a medical technician and both encouraged their oldest of for children to pursue excellence, embrace opportunity and follow her dreams, without regard to race or gender—her life philosophy.

A graduate of the Chicago Public Schools, she received her B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1969 & her law degree from the University of Chicago in 1972 before joining the United States Attorney’s Office the next year.

Ms. Braun’s primary work was in civil and appellate law in the areas of housing, health policy and environmental law where she won the Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award—her first public recognition of many in her distinguished career.

In 1978 she sought public office for the first time and was elected a Representative of the Illinois General Assembly.

An independent Democrat, Representative Braun earned recognition as a champion for education, government reform and civil rights. After winning a landmark reapportionment case, she was named Assistant Majority Leader. Following a term as Cook County Recorder of Deeds, she undertook a primary election challenge to the incumbent Democratic Senator.

When she carried Illinois in 1992, Senator Braun’s election marked the 1 st time Illinois had elected a woman & the 1 st time the Democratic party had elected a black to the Senate.

She was only one of two African-Americans to serve in the Senate in the 20 th century—think of the significance—and was the sole African-American in the Senate, 1992-98, as well as the first permanent member of the Senate Finance Committee—a woman of many firsts!

Through her tumultuous Senate term, the Senator was known for integrity and an exemplary legislative record. In 1998, President Clinton named her special consultant to the Department of Education and she was confirmed 98-2 as Ambassador to New Zealand, Somoa, the Cook Islands, and Antarctica—what she described as being “Ambassador to Paradise.”

Now an entrepreneur, teacher of law and political science following her run for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2004, please give a warm SUNY Brockport welcome to Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.

Continue to Ambassador Braun's Address

Photo: Cultural Diversity Conference