Perspectives Online

National conference highlights Diversity Catalyst Team's efforts

Chiquita McAllister (left) of N.C. A&T State University presents a gift to Dr. Michael J. Tate of Washington State University during the conference, where Tate was a featured speaker.
James Parker, N.C. A&T State University

North Carolina Cooperative Extension's leadership role in helping broaden cultural diversity in the land-grant university system was evident this spring as 200 Extension professionals from across the nation gathered in Greensboro for the 2005 National Diversity Conference.

The event, held April 27-29, was sponsored jointly by the Change Agent States for Diversity and the Change Agent States for Engagement. North Carolina Cooperative Extension - a partnership of N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University, county governments and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - is among the 14 "change agent" states working to develop new models and strategies for diversity.

In North Carolina, the initiative is guided by a Diversity Catalyst Team with representatives from across Cooperative Extension's ranks. Harvey Lineberry, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' assistant dean for personnel, co-chairs the team with Chiquita McAllister, personnel officer at N.C. A&T State University.

During a panel session at the conference, Dr. Jon Ort, CALS associate dean and director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, praised the team's continuing efforts.

"Their work is making a lasting difference within our organization, making us stronger, more relevant and more responsive in a rapidly changing environment," he said. "Achieving diversity isn't something you can do overnight. It requires an ongoing commitment, and I am proud [that] so many of my colleagues ... have shown enormous commitment and compassion to their colleagues and their clientele" through the change-agent states initiative.

- Dee Shore