Toledo, Ohio— The University of Toledo’s student-athletes, coaches, and athletic department staff members were treated to a presentation on diversity and inclusivity by internationally renowned speaker Dr. Derek Greenfield on Thursday evening as part of the 2017 Mid-American Conference’s Diversity and Inclusion Program. The presentation was sponsored by the Student-Athlete Academic Services (SAAS) office and is part of the SAAS Student-Athlete Development programming.
“I was blown away by Dr. Greenfield’s presentation and the powerful message,” said Jillian Lehman, coordinator for student-athlete development. “To see our student-athletes share so many emotions and come together to support one another was a very meaningful and uplifting experience. Hopefully this togetherness can continue throughout the semester and year because if students are themselves, it will only make the Rocket family better, as Dr. Greenfield puts it.”
More than 200 student-athletes filled the stands at Savage Arena as they engaged in interactive discussion on promoting diversity, cultural competence, and inclusive excellence.
Senior football player Cody Thompson called the presentation “one of the most amazing experiences in my life,” and women’s basketball freshman Tatyana Davis said: “the presentation was life-changing. I was glad to experience this with all UT student-athletes and my teammates. We are planning to have more discussion as a team to continue to support each other.”
At different points during the night the student-athletes broke up into small groups or talked as one large crowd, and by the end of the night a lot of laughs, tears, and hugs were shared between all the Rockets in attendance.
“Hopefully the spirit of inclusive excellence,” Greenfield said he hoped the group learned from his visit. “That when people can be who they are, they’re better, and when they’re better, we’re better. That we know about each other and we can support each other. As a result we can perform better on the court or in the classroom and in life. This is an amazing family. Hopefully, by breaking down a few of those walls, they came closer together and realized how amazing we can be if we support each other with love.”
Greenfield’s powerful keynotes and workshops on issues such as diversity and inclusion, motivation, team building, student development, and innovative pedagogy have been featured at a wide range of conferences, companies, and colleges. Prior to his full-time speaking career, Dr. Greenfield spent over 20 years as a dedicated and talented college professor and administrator. He most recently served in the chief diversity officer role at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss.