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EDI Year in Review: Events and happenings   – News | #students | #parents

The 2021-2022 year celebrated artists, ideas, and anniversaries at Illinois State University. Lectures and film series prompted discussions. Exhibits and performances inspired. Here is a look at events and happenings at Illinois State that honored and celebrated equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).  

Find highlights of EDI initiatives and efforts on campus here.

Find highlights of EDI research and honors here.

Series and celebrations: 

Title IX Celebration Banquet

Title IX  – A year-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the landmark statute Title IX  kicked off with the unveiling of a banner at Redbird Arena for ISU trailblazer and longtime coach/administrator Dr. Linda Herman, and culminated in a three-day celebration with leaders including Herman, Jill Hutchinson, and Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy. Events took place throughout the year, including the School of Kinesiology and Recreation hosting the Title IX Conference, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies hosting Know Your IX co-founder Alexandra Brodsky, and holding a summer course on the many facets of Title IX.  

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Student Research Symposium 25th anniversary –  The University commemorated 25 years of the annual Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Student Research Symposium with an exhibit at Milner Library called 25th & Change, and a dynamic lineup of speakers. 

Dr. Cara Wong

International Seminar Series – The International Seminar Series honored “A New Normal in a Global Context,” with talks on U.S. foreign policy, the world economy, and public health. Speakers included Dr. Cara Wong, author of Boundaries of Obligation in American Politics: Geographic, National, and Racial Communities, presenting “National Identity and Racism in an Era of COVID-19: The Case of Asians and Asian Americans.”  

“Meanings of the past” by Aaron R. Turner, who was a visiting artist

Native American Film Series – The Native American Film Series offered discussions throughout October of films that focused on historic and contemporary issues facing indigenous peoples. Films included Our Spirits Don’t Speak English, Rumble: The American Indians Who Rocked the World, and The Peyote Road.   

Wonsook Kim School of Art Visiting Artist Lecture Series – The Wonsook Kim School of Art Visiting Artist Lecture Series featured works and presentations by artists such as Maria Gaspar, M. Rachael Arauz, Aaron Turner, and Ishan Khosla. Their works delved into spatial justice, identity, and Blackness.  

Experiencing Images: How the visual shapes our world – The Experiencing Images speaker series looked to spark discussion on how people use images to construct identity and meaning. Speakers included Cecil McDonald Jr., Cannupa Hanska Luger, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Dr. Byron Craig, Jin Lee, and Jason Reblando.  

ReggieCon explored Amulet, a Lebanese American high schooler 

ReggieCon  – ReggieCon is a series of virtual panels with experts in comic and popular media, focusing on issues of race and diversity. This year featured panels that focused on the authors and comics of Black Jack and Black Panther, Jessica Jones, Amulet, and My Neighbor Totoro

Breaking Bread – Illinois State’s Design Streak Studio helped to design and promote the Breaking Bread series, which explored culture through food.  

Green Screen – The Center for Math, Science and Technology and the ISU Office of Sustainability sponsored The Green Screen: A Climate Change Film Series. Films featured a different topic each month, with a focus on the global climate change crisis.  

Fidencio Fifield-Perez was one of several speakers for Latinx Hertge Month. @fidencio.f.perez

Water Wednesdays – The Water Center hosted a series of talks on water-related scholarship, known as Water Wednesdays, throughout the spring semester.  


Events surrounded Recovery Month on campus.  

Filmmaker David Osit and Ramallah Mayor Musa Hadid spoke after student viewed a the documentary Mayor on September 8. 

Latinx Heritage Month opened with artist Fidencio Fifield-Perez, continued with Dr. Maritza Quiñones-Rivera speaking on Centering Blackness in Latinx, Neyda Martinez showing her film Decade of Fire, and the Latinx Cultural Dinner’s welcome of Oscar- and Tony-award winning actress Ariana DeBose.  


Milner Library hosted Leadership of Liberation framework to explore the connections between cultural preservation, community-based leadership, and academic libraries.  

The student organization TRIBE@ISU (Teaching, Reviving, Indigenizing, Beautifying, and Equalizing, Illinois State University Chapter) hosted Honoring Life: Vigil for Residential and Boarding School Victims and Survivors on September 30. 


University and community leaders gathered during Homecoming Week to hold a ribbon cutting and dedication for the new Multicultural Center on October 15. See more on the Multicutural Center in the EDI Year in Review: 2021-2022 story.

Travis L. Wagner

Travis L. Wagner presented “The Algorithm Led Me Here: Using Contemporary LGBTQIA+ to Understand the Future of Queer Archives” for QueerTalks on October 18. 

The Office of the President hosted the first campus-wide retreat for the EDI Leaders Circle. Advocate-leaders from across campus gathered to discuss their plans and strategies to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

The Center for Civic Engagement welcomed Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, for an exploration into health equity on October 19. 


Graphic for I am Here. We are Here. We Belong. art installation

The University honored National Immigrants Day on October 28, with a thousand 4-by-6-inch flags that lined the Quad for 24 hours on November 1. 

University College’s TRIO hosted First Generation Week from November 1-5. The week was a tribute and celebration to the often-unsung contributions and achievements of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who were the first in their families to enter higher education. 

Ariana DeBose

Tony-nominated actress Ariana DeBose spoke at the Latino Cultural Dinner on November 8. 

Illinois State University held its annual Veterans Day Ceremony on November 11.  

Illinois State University’s Muslim Student Association hosted an “Introduction to Islam, Myths and Facts with Dr. Sabeel Ahmed” on November 11.  

The School of Theatre and Dance presented Sueño by Pedro Calderón de la Barca throughout November.  

Dr. Jennifer J. Parker

The annual Charles Morris STEM Social for Underrepresented Students featured alum and healthcare researcher Dr. Jennifer J. Parker on November 10. 

Queer Coalition and Pride honored Transgender Awareness Week on November 17 with listening circles and a vigil.  

MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient and author Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt presented the talk “Biased” on November 18. Eberhardt offered a reasoned look into the effects of implicit racial bias and offered practical suggestions for reform. 


#ObsidianVoices celebrated artistic excellence in the African diaspora on December 10.  


African American Studies hosted “Black Women Rising: From the Classroom to the Boardroom with Angela Allen and Tiffany Mathis on January 24.  

The Sociology & Anthropology Research Series featured Dr. Liv Stone sharing her research titled “Popularizing Anarchist Ethics: Autogestión in Mexico City” on January 21.  

Dr. Buffie Longmire-Avital explored how academic institutions can mitigate systemic injustices experienced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students in her talk “Historically Underrepresented or Historically Excluded? The Creation of an Institutional Infrastructure that Amplifies Student Capital” on January 28. 


Cheering during the Play4Kay game, 2022

Athletics hosted the annual Pride Night on February 4 in Redbird Arena. 

The 12th annual Play4Kay game returned on February 6. The event raises funds for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the fight against all cancers affecting women. 

Author and scholar Dr. Ebony Omotola McGee presented “Black, Brown, Bruised: Looking at racialized STEM education” on February 18.  

Mexican American and Indigenous poet-author Jennifer Givhan offered insights into issues affecting the lives of women and the ways we inherit and construct or reconstruct our identities on February 18.  

State Comptroller Susana Mendoza spoke during one of two February events from the Economic Literacy Project cohort, which promotes economic literacy.  

The annual Adaptapalooza on February 23, 2022

Adaptapalooza gave community members an opportunity to experience inclusive recreation for people with physical disabilities on February 23.

AsiaConnect hosted a virtual forum featuring Dr. T.Y. Wang on February 25.  

Sudents gather for a photo during a trivia night from the Undergraduate Women in Economics.

Undergraduate Women in Economics hosted a watch party of the panel “Diversifying Economics: Moving Beyond the ‘D’ in DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging)” from the virtual Women in Economics Symposium..

Dr. Zine Magubane delivered the Black History Month lecture “The Uses and Abuses of Jim Crow: Contemporary Race Theory and the Problem of History on February 28. 


Dr. Mirelsie Velázquez, author of Puerto Rican Chicago: Schooling the City, 1940-1977, led CRCC Conversations on communities and spaces of belonging for institutions of higher learning.   

The Multicultural Center presented Sunn M’Cheaux in March and April to lead the “Safe(ish)” program, which helps individuals understand the personal narratives and experiences of gender- expansive and LGBTQIA+ individuals. 

The Women’s History Club hosted speaker Dr. Martha Horst to discuss women and music composition on March 21.  

ISU’s Queer Coalition hosted a Trans Day of Visibility Sashay and rally in Uptown Normal.

The Katie School of Insurance hosted a career networking event with a panel titled “The Power of an Inclusive Workforce” that featured Michelle Schrotter and included a panel discussion with Priscilla Escobar, Angela Allen, Jean Celestin, and Tawonda Goode 

The School of Theatre and Dance performed the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Fairview, which shines a spotlight on modern day racism.  

Queer Coalition staged Transgender Day of Visibility Sashay through Uptown Normal on March 31.  

Dr. Charissa Cheah and Dr. David Chih drew attention to the impact of the increase in violence against Asians and Asian Americans during the pandemic in their talk titled “Racial Discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans and Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic” on March 29. 


LaLa Ri

LaLa Ri, named Ms. Congeniality of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13, headlined the 23rd annual Pride Charity Drag Show, which raised funds for the LGBTQ+ Support Fund at ISU.  

NexSTEM program students presented research topics at the multi-institution 2021-22 Research Poster Symposium on April 2.  

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and Tony-nominated producer Jose Antonio Vargas was the keynote speaker for the Asian Cultural Dinner on April 12.  

Jose Antonio Vargas was the featured speaker at this year’s Asian Cultural Dinner.

In celebration of Bilingual Advocacy Week, a talk by Dr. Kim Potowski explored “Spanish in the U.S.: Myths and Realities” on April 14. 

Aburoo Due Creative Productions, led by Illinois State University Professor of Ethnomusicology Ama Oforiwaa Aduonum, performed Walking with My Ancestors: Cape Coast Castle on April 8 in Kemp Recital Hall.  

The annual exhibit FOOD for THOUGHT: Understanding Cultural Identity and Heritage Through Food launched on April 19 at Milner Library.  

African American Studies presented sociologist Cedrick-Michael Simmons’ talk “The Challenges of Diversity Management” on April 22. The talk explored the political and structural challenges confronting diversity managers.   

The Clothesline Project

Director of the Center for Civic Engagement Katy Strzepek and Assistant Director Harriett Steinbach guest spoke on “Designing Civic Engagement Assignments Using an EDI Lens” on April 15. The workshop explored ways to decolonize service learning and other forms of civic engagement. 

The Clothesline Project brought awareness to the unique stories of survivors of sexual assault and violence on April 19. The event was part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month events, hosted by Students Ending Rape Culture and Health Promotion and Wellness.  

Honoring Asian art and artistry highlighted Asian Heritage Week at Illinois State University, with events running from April 22-25. 

Maura Toro-Morn

Dr. Maura Toro-Morn, professor of sociology and director of Latin American and Latino/a Studies, delivered the 2022 Spring College Lecture on April 25. The talk, “Gendered Migrations in the Age of Global Disruption,” explored global migrations and inequality. 

In recognizing World Design Day, the Multicultural Center hosted “Design Thinking for Student Success” on April 27. 

The Crossroads Project presented a staged reading of Dear Mr. C by Tidtaya Sinutoke, winner of the 2022 Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative. 


ISU marked the observance of Juneteenth.   

Members of the Illinois State University TRIO program

Illinois State University hosted the statewide TRIO conference from June 3-5.

The College of Education helped to sponsor the Restorative Leadership Community Series, June 27-29. The series guided participants on an overview of restorative practices and focused on building proactive and responsive listening circles.   

A restorative justice workshop led by Kevin Jones

ISU helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pell grants.  

In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, Illinois State University held a Listening Circle under the guidance of Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Outreach Danielle Beasley of Student Counseling Services on July 7. 

University Galleries presented Nazafarin Lotfi: Subtle Time as an online exhibition, exploring experiences of growing up in post-Revolutionary Iran and continuing artistic practice as an immigrant in the United States.   

Items in the story were taken from features in the bi-weekly newsletter Identity, and the weekly newsletter Report. If you have events from the 2021-2022 year to add to this story, please contact Rachel Hatch at

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