PAC Diversity Theater

This 2021 Public Affairs Conference opened on Sept. 27 with a panel highlighting diversity. This year's theme is "Bridging the Divide."

Missouri State University’s 2021 Public Affairs Conference opened on Sept. 27 with a panel emphasizing partnerships that create diversity throughout the Springfield community. 

The panel was led by President Clif Smart, and included three partner organizations of MSU. These are the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB), the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Springfield. 

The panel stated diversity and inclusion in communities is important as they strengthen partnerships by accessing more talent and point of views.  

Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, CEO and founder of SAAB, said, “Diversity is a fact. Equity is a choice. Inclusion is the action. Belonging is the outcome.” 

SAAB is an organization that supports young men of color to accomplish higher education.  

Bledsoe said in response to a question about the hesitance of moving toward diversity, “whatever is man-made can be man-resolved.” 

President Matt Morrow of Springfield Chamber of Commerce talked about the business side of diversity. He said Springfield businesses are working toward inclusion, and explained since all businesses are global it is important to have diversity training.  

Mary Lily Smith, retired director of planning and development of Springfield, said Springfield is moving toward diversity by recently hiring Taj Suleyman, the first director of diversity, equity and inclusion. This role is responsible for “the development and implementation of the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and initiatives” as stated on the City of Springfield website.

Students can see the benefits of partnerships with the Multicultural Resource Center here on campus. It supports students in the areas of “Multicultural Programs, Access Programs, Transition and Support (Bears L.E.A.D.), and the Disability Resource Center and Trio Student Support Services,” as stated on their website.  

The Public Affairs Conference will continue until Sept. 30. The rest of the events can be found here:https://publicaffairs.missouristate.edu/conference/schedule.

Subscribe to The Standard's free weekly newsletter here.