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New Diversity Program Promotes Inclusive Workplace Environment for MU Staff

July 17th, 2012

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— For years, the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative (CDI) at the University of Missouri has been dedicated to enhancing diversity by promoting inclusive excellence and a welcoming campus for MU faculty and students. Now, the CDI has developed a new program specifically tailored for MU staff members that serves as a professional development program devoted to issues of diversity. The Workplace Diversity Series is a monthly workshop offered to MU staff members across campus. The series approaches issues of diversity from different angles as they relate to the workplace. Noor Azizan-Gardner, interim Chief Diversity Officer at MU, says the program is unique among the university’s peers.

“Currently, the MU Workplace Diversity Series is the only diversity program dedicated to university staff in the SEC,” Azizan-Gardner said. “The MU staff is a critical component of our university and it’s equally important that we engage in providing an inclusive environment for them as well as all members of the campus community.”

Marlo Goldstein Hode, coordinator of programming and professional development in the CDI, initiated and organizes the series, drawing upon the wide range of talented facilitators with various areas of expertise from across campus. She believes that MU staff members are an essential aspect of creating an inclusive environment on campus.

“MU is more than an academic institution, it is also a workplace,” Hode said. “MU employees are the backbone of the university, and their contributions are vital to fulfilling MU’s main tenets of respect, responsibility, discovery, and excellence.”

Workplace Diversity Series participants discuss a different topic each month during the lunch-hour workshop. The July workshop taught participants practical tips and strategies for creating inclusive work environments, including the Traffic Light model, which teaches skills that address bullying and bias and conflict resolution, and strategies for continual learning about various aspects of diversity and culture. Future workshops will discuss ways to create workplaces accessible for people with disabilities and ways to deal with age and generational issues.

“The staff at MU comes from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, so they bring a lot to the table,” Hode said. “The Workplace Diversity Series brings people from all corners of campus together, not only to learn about diversity issues, but also as an opportunity to cross paths with people on campus whom they might not otherwise meet. This helps build a community on campus.”

Hode also is in the process of creating an online diversity course aimed at increasing personal growth and professional development for MU staff. After finishing the course, staff members will earn a certificate of completion. That course is expected to be ready this fall. For more information about the Workplace Diversity Series, visit: