By K. Dawn Rutledge
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University students, faculty and administrators represented the university in full force at the first R.A.C.E. Mentoring Conference hosted by Vanderbilt University, July 14-16.
The inaugural gathering welcomed more than 160 doctoral students, higher education faculty and P-12 educators from across the country for three days of workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities. As a partner in the effort, TSU’s School of Graduate Studies and Professional Studies sponsored more than 30 graduate students, faculty members, and administrators to take part in the conference. Title III’s Graduate Student Services program also sponsored five female Ph.D. students in Engineering and Biological Science.
“I am pleased that the TSU’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies was able to co-sponsor the inaugural R.A.C.E. Mentoring Conference at Vanderbilt University,” said Dr. Lucian Yates, III, dean. This event gathered students, faculty and administrators of color from around the country to discuss issues, problems and how to collaborate on navigating the academy and publishing. The preliminary results were overwhelmingly favorable and participants indicated that it was one of the best conferences they ever attended.”
R.A.C.E., an acronym for Research, Advocacy, Collaboration, and Empowerment, was created by Dr. Donna Y. Ford, a professor at Vanderbilt Peabody, and colleagues, Dr. Michelle Trotman Scott and Dr. Malik S. Henfield in 2013. The R.A.C.E. Mentoring Conference provides an outlet for scholars of color to exchange ideas and information, receive advice on publishing, and garner support as they seek to obtain advanced degrees and advance in higher education and P-12 settings.
“Many students are interested in publishing and this conference allowed them to build several relationships and contacts; many tell me they will be publishing really soon,” Yates said. “The currency in our profession are publications and this conference was designed to help students and faculty in the publishing process.”
Along with publishing opportunities, other important topics focused on the challenges that students and faculty face in career advancement as well as navigating and debunking stereotypes, among other critical discussions.
“Attendance at the inaugural R.A.C.E. Mentoring Conference is especially important because it allowed TSU student, administrators, and faculty of color the opportunity to meet other scholars of color from across the county and experience the importance of intellectual flexibility and maturity through academic writing, teaching, and service,” said Dr. Andrea L. Tyler, director of Graduate Student Services and Research Associate for Title III. “In short, the R.A.C.E. Mentoring conference provided a foundation from which to build from and aspire to.”
As a co-sponsor of the conference, TSU joined Vanderbilt in welcoming several institutions, including other HBCUs such as Illinois State University, Howard University, and Texas A&M University, to name a few.
Among other TSU faculty and administrators involved in the conference included Dr. Alex Sekwat, Dr. Stashia Emanuel, Dr. Charles Brown (Public Health), and Dr. Kisha Bryan (Teaching and Learning).