The board members of the Utah Women in Higher Education Dixie State University chapter said they are sending a message that people at DSU take gender equality seriously by hosting the UWHEN Spring Conference April 16 and 17.
The conference, themed “Elemental Women: Defining Space Creating Change,” will begin April 16 with a screening of a DOCUTAH film, “Solar Mammas,” and a leadership discussion.
The following day’s events will be filled with more than 200 women and men whom have come together to share and learn from one another, said UWHEN Chair Shirlayne Quayle, assistant director of employer relations at DSU, in an email.
“While this event does not have a student [program] at this time, there is serious talk at the state level to add a student-specific track to future conferences,” Quayle said.
Quayle said DSU’s hosting of the event does more than send a message; the conference being held at DSU is a way to show attendees the beauty of DSU’s campus and the dedication of the faculty and staff members who have worked hard to make the conference happen.
The purpose of the DSU chapter of UWHEN is to create a coalition among faculty and staff that will support the development of women’s leadership. Quayle said the DSU chapter is fortunate to have the support of President Biff Williams and his administrative team as they work to grow a campus community that celebrates equality and diversity.
“One of the nicest things about the DSU chapter is that it is, I think, the only entity on campus that includes both faculty and staff,” said UWHEN-DSU President Cheri Crenshaw, an associate professor of English. “Faculty and staff tend not to do things together … so, were hearing [the staff] – maybe for the first time.”
The DSU chapter is comprised of eight women, half of which are staff and the other faculty. Crenshaw said understanding and practicing gender equality and acceptance of diversity is difficult to teach because of the culture’s socialized ideals. She said that is why it is important that DSU has a UWHEN chapter and hosts this event, but the most important reason to have the DSU chapter is to give female faculty and staff a voice.
Deneece Huftalin, Salt Lake Community College president, will give the keynote speech after a short greeting from Quayle and president Biff Williams at 9 a.m. Huftalin has held a number of professional and volunteer leadership positions.
Following the keynote, the morning breakout sessions will include five interactive workshops and presentations starting at 10:15 am, according to a program information flyer.
The topics of the workshops revolve around leadership, relationships and self-confidence.
A lunch will be held between the morning and afternoon breakout sessions from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. The afternoon breakout sessions will include another five interactive workshops and presentations, according to a program information flyer.
The closing session will be held from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., and the topic will be finding the courage and voice to elicit change.
“We need more [female] role models for our students,” Crenshaw said. “We can’t say ‘go out and be leaders’ if we’re not willing to be leaders ourselves.”