LSU Hosts Inaugural Networking Mixer for Graduate Students, Faculty and Staff of Color
BATON ROUGE – The LSU Black Graduate and Student Professional Association, or BGPSA; Black Faculty and Staff Caucus, or BFSC; and the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Community Outreach, or EDCO, hosted their inaugural Fall Mixer for graduate students, faculty and staff of color. Held in the recently opened African American Cultural Center, the mixer served as a networking opportunity for LSU students, faculty and staff.
“The purpose of the Fall Mixer was to create a sense of family for our graduate students, faculty and staff of color,” said Interim Vice Provost for EDCO Kenneth O. Miles. “There are many instances where faculty, staff and students may feel isolated and alone thus it is imperative to create opportunities like this to minimize those feelings with the goal of eliminating them.”
Miles added, “Recruitment and retention is an institutional goal, and the Fall Mixer is one example of how we were able to emphasize our goal.”
“Events such as the Fall Mixer are essential in providing personalized experiences at a large, flagship university such as LSU,” said Antonius Skipper, first year doctoral student in the School of Social Work. “Faculty and student interactions are opportunities to share professional interests and shape professional partnerships."
University President and Chancellor F. King Alexander was also in attendance. He shared words of encouragement and addressed the audience on the importance of such events, and how he aims to help support this and other programs that bring together LSU’s student, faculty and staff of color.
“We are most grateful for the support and attendance of President and Chancellor F. King Alexander, Provost Stuart Bell, BFSC, EDCO, and a number of administrators from across campus,” said BGSPA President Kourtney Gray, a second year Ph.D. student studying educational leadership and research in higher education.
Gray added, “Event attendance exceeded our expectations; our membership is thrilled that they were able to meet faculty and staff outside of their respective programs. We are all looking forward to next year’s mixer.”
In addition to providing networking opportunities, the Fall Mixer also served as an opportunity for the Black Faculty and Staff Caucus to present a monetary donation to the African American Cultural Center.
LaKeitha A. Poole, coordinator of African American Student Affairs in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, described how the center plans to use the funds.
Poole said, “As always the funds will be used in support of the AACC’s programs and initiatives. Now that we are back in the newly renovated space, we have an opportunity to enhance the services we provide our students as we continue to make an impact across the campus community.”
Randy Fontenot, assistant director for LSU’s First Year Experience and president of the BFSC at LSU, shared the importance of investing in the African American Cultural Center. Fontenot shared that a special group within BFSC called the “GROUP 100” donated half of their membership fees to the African American Cultural Center in order to aid in sustaining the mission and goals of the center.
Fontenot said, “The BFSC GROUP 100 represents members who have a vested interest in development of the center, presenting the donation at the 2013 Fall Mixer allowed BFSC to show our support and commitment to the African American Cultural Center, the campus community, as well potential members.”
The importance of events like the Fall Mixer is clear. Not only did the mixer create an opportunity for networking, but also created a family atmosphere for faculty, staff and students of color from all areas of LSU.
“I have had trouble bonding with people at LSU since I got here last year, but after leaving the mixer I’ve started to feel like there is a place for me here and that we are part of one big family,” said Vicky Kelly, a second year doctoral student in the veterinary medical sciences program. “Meeting and speaking with so many people who share similarities with me, both grad students and faculty, really made me feel welcomed.”
BGPSA is a graduate student organization established to support current graduate student of color through professional and personal development programs and activities. For more information contact Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The BFSC purpose is twofold: (1) to serve the special needs of LSU African-American employees; (2) and to provide African-American employees and students a proactive organization capable of investigating complaints, addressing problems and working alongside university administration to facilitate resolution. Contact Fontenot at email@example.com for more information.