Distinguished Lectures

These annual lectures are co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Diversity, the University Diversity Initiative, and the Office of the President.

​2017: Anthony Greenwald, Professor of Psychology, University of Washington

“The Selling of Implicit Bias” 

The concept of implicit bias is being sold both by psychologists bringing applications to public attention and by commercial interests offering to cure the damages implicit biases can cause. A byproduct of any scientific work being propagated beyond its originating disciplines is that non-experts will generate pseudo-knowledge that lacks solid empirical roots. This talk describes both what is solidly established empirically and misconceptions that are best dispelled.

This event, part of Implicit Bias Awareness Week, was presented by the Center for the Study of Diversity with support from the College of Arts & Sciences, the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, the College of Earth, Ocean & Environment, Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics, the College of Education & Human Development, the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, UD ADVANCE, the Office of Equity & Inclusion, Professional & Continuing Studies, and University of Delaware Police.

2016: AnaMari Cauce, President, University of Washington

Universities are “the perfect place” to have the difficult, often uncomfortable, conversations that are needed to combat instances of bias, racism, sexism and violence that have drawn attention across the U.S. in recent years, Ana Mari Cauce told an audience at the University of Delaware.

Cauce, who is president of the University of Washington, delivered the spring 2016 Distinguished Lecture on Diversity in Higher Education on April 22 at UD. She told those attending the talk that, although the past two years have been “a really tough time” for those who value diversity and inclusiveness, she is hopeful because incidents of bias have often been met by resistance.

Read the full story on UDaily. Video available here.

2014: Richard Tapia, Director, Center for Excellence and Equity in Education at Rice University

Sí se puede. (Believe that you can.)

Inspired by such teachings of his mom, Richard Tapia never gave up on the goals he set for himself.

On Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, Tapia, director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education at Rice University, took a crowd of 200 in the University of Delaware’s Roselle Center for the Arts on his “unlikely journey” from the barrios of Los Angeles to the White House as the recipient of the prestigious National Medal of Science.

Along the way, the esteemed mathematician not only shared his own identity crisis growing up as an American-born child of Mexican immigrant parents, but he also underscored the diversity crisis facing U.S. higher education and how universities must do a better job of welcoming and preparing underrepresented minority students, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Read the full story on UDaily or watch the video presentation here.

2013: Beverly Daniel Tatum, President, Spelman College

Just as the U.S. population is growing increasingly diverse, the nation’s K-12 schools are becoming more segregated — a situation that poses a threat to the quality of higher education for all groups and to the success of American democracy.

That was the message delivered by Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College and a writer and psychologist whose specialty is race relations, to an audience at the University of Delaware on Nov. 12. Her talk, titled “Diversity, Democracy and Leadership: Education for the 21st Century,” was UD’s 2013 Distinguished Lecture on Diversity in Higher Education.

“The decision makers of the future are the college students of today,” Tatum said, calling higher education “a location where crucial connections can be forged” among diverse groups. Research finds that young people who interact with those from different racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic groups while in college tend to continue that habit, living in more diverse neighborhoods and having a more diverse group of friends as they get older, she said.

Read the full story on UDaily.

2012: Nancy Cantor, Chancellor, Syracuse University

NANCY CANTOR, then the Chancellor and President of Syracuse University, delivered the annual Distinguished Lecture on Diversity in Higher Education in October 2012.

The Center for the Study of Diversity and the President’s Diversity Initiative co-sponsored this keynote address, which opened with a nod to the core mission of CSD: “It is not a new idea that the best way to tackle complex problems is to bring diverse perspectives to bear on them.”

Chancellor Cantor discussed her vision of the university not as an ivory tower, but as a public good that must use its resources, intellectual capital, leadership and research to confront public challenges.

Click here to watch the video of Chancellor Cantor’s talk.

2011: Claude Steele, I. James Quillen Dean of the School of Education at Stanford University

CLAUDE M. STEELE, the I. James Quillen Dean of the School of Education at Stanford University, gave the inaugural lecture of the Center for the Study of Diversity in October 2011. At that time he was serving as Provost at Columbia University.

Dean Steele discussed the lessons about diversity detailed in his book, Whistling Vivaldi: and other clues to how stereotypes affect us (Norton).

Internationally known for his groundbreaking research on stereotype threat, Dean Steele described how targets of stereotypes must come to recognize the added burden they impose, and become vigilant to cues in their environment that signal they are in play. His research shows that academic performance may decline below the level of actual ability a person has when stereotypes threaten their psychological self-concept.

The research further shows that when the cues are changed or rendered irrelevant, performance rises to the level of actual ability. His theory, developed with respect to African Americans in academics and women in math, has been broadened to the more general idea of identity threat.

Steele identified ways to reduce identity or stereotype threat that included replacing high level of vigilance-to-threat orientation with cues that signaled compelling hope about belonging and succeeding in a college setting; (grades increased by 1/3 of a GPA), introducing an incremental mindset(abilities are malleable not fixed), in a situation of threat to oneself concept, providing opportunities for a people to affirm a larger valued sense of self; and for elementary school students, creating identity-safe classrooms, characterized by child-centered teaching, positive relationships with students, a view of diversity as a resource among others, led to significantly improved performance on year-end tests.

Click here to watch Claude Steele speak about stereotype threat.