Globalization Focus of Diversity Summit

The recent event highlighted a world without borders and the need to foster critical thinking.


By Barbara Melendez

     USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (May 5, 2011) – What is a Diversity Summit, exactly?  At the University of South Florida, for its eighth annual outing, Globalization & Diversity: It’s a Changing World, it meant bringing together Tampa’s new mayor, a leading corporate executive from CISCO, an expert on international protocol, some of Tampa’s business leaders, the university’s top leadership, faculty, staff and students to share information on the benefits and challenges of something that is more than a buzzword.


“USF defines globalization as a key component of its vision in our strategic plan, and diversity is a key part of that,” said Ted Williams, associate vice president of the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity. “Each workshop was designed to make clear that each of us lives in a world where, if we want to be successful in it, we will have to speak more than one language, be open to people different from ourselves and will have to work hard to be competitive in a world that is changing very quickly.  What’s best about it is that this isn’t something to fear, it’s something to celebrate and be very excited about.  I think that came across in every session.”  


Keynote speaker Annabelle Pinto’s presentation, “It’s a Changed World” explained many of the ways the world has already moved away from one that can be taken for granted, how it will continue to change and how the changes will impact everyone, including today’s students in the years to come.  CISCO’s director of worldwide market management, sports and entertainment is a USF alumna from Tampa with over 20 years experience in business development and marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies.  The 1992 MBA recipient urged everyone to “prepare for the dramatic shifts now.”


She said, “It’s a borderless world. I am a global citizen.  You have to be a global citizen.  We are experiencing the biggest shift in history.”  And with her detailed presentation she showed how economic power is shifting to ever more urbanized developing nations and how population growth is increasingly concentrated in emerging countries while declining in an aging United States and Europe.  By 2050 she said we can expect the U.S. to be second to China with India in the third spot of the world’s top economies – if not sooner.


Based on her experience with CISCO in China getting schools up and running after the devastating earthquake there, retrofitting major U.S. cities (Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Detroit) and current work with helping to build a new city with unprecedented connectivity in South Korea, Pinto finds herself in a position to report on transformation from a unique perspective.


“Everyone needs 21st Century skills, not just STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) but problem-solving, critical thinking and the ability to go beyond cultural barriers.”


In essence, she reinforced the case for producing what she described as “healthy disruptions” and “pushing boundaries” while also being open and receptive to differences – no matter how jarring.  “It’s important to listen to what people bring to you,” she said.  “I would never send a cowboy to charm school.  Be ready to be uncomfortable.” 


Pinto is an example of the value of diversity and also champions the advancement of women within her company.  She is part of a family with potentially five generations associated with USF.  Her father received his MBA from USF as she did.  Her brother Juan Carlos Pinto graduated from USF as did his daughter and a nephew, now in high school is being encouraged to attend. Throughout a successful career Pinto credits what she learned at USF.


 “People often mention a teacher who had the greatest impact on them.  For me it was Maria Crummett (associate vice president for USF Global Affairs) and in meetings with people I ask myself, ‘What would Maria say?’”


The recent event started with greetings from USF President Judy Genshaft, USF Provost Ralph Wilcox, outgoing USF Student Government President Cesar Hernandez and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn all setting the tone for the day as a serious and meaningful exploration of a concern USF takes to heart.


“We are a community rooted in diversity,” Genshaft said noting that USF is preparing students for jobs with multinational corporations and how they must develop “understanding and respect for other peoples’ values.” 


The Provost welcomed everyone in French, German and Spanish and referenced his own experiences as a foreign student from the United Kingdom in Canada and the U.S. Hernandez pointed out how much he has gained from USF faculty who come from all over the world.


Mayor Buckhorn, whose wife Dr. Catherine Lynch teaches at USF Health, praised Tampa's diversity and hailed it as a quality he wants to lead in celebrating, building and strengthening during his tenure.


“Americans look like the world,” he said.  “We have to diversify our economy if we’re to keep the best and the brightest here. Tampa is a gateway to the Americas and we’re capable of competing with anyone.  Growth will not be driven by service level jobs but by jobs in technology.”


Panelists in “Positioning Tampa to Compete Globally” followed up on the Mayor’s remarks.  Irma Bridgeford, Tampa/Hillsborough International Protocol Office revealed the intricacies of making certain cultural differences are handled properly to prevent disastrous misunderstandings. Bill Carson from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Al Frederick from the Tampa Latin Chamber and Mark Huey from the City of Tampa each talked about the key position USF plays as a partner in promoting international trade and attracting investment in Tampa Bay. Panelist Kelly Miliziano from the UNA-USA Tampa Bay Global Classroom focused on the importance of global learning and cultural awareness from kindergarten through college.


Another workshop conducted by Raquel Peverini, associate director of USF’s Office of Students with Disabilities Services provided an overview of how disabilities are treated in other cultures around the world and with the help of USF alumna Shari Wilson talked about how to interact respectfully with people who have disabilities.


Students who attended the Education Without Borders conference in Dubai, Aaron Dixon, Kelli Immet and Tahseen Ismail and Hernandez gave the student perspective on spending time abroad, joining Stuart Silverman, Honors College dean; Sharon Hana-West, College of Business; and Maryhelen Shuman-Groh, masters program in global sustainability for a discussion on “Fostering Student Global Leaders.”  Christian Wells, Patel School of Global Sustainability, and Linda Lucas, Office of National Scholarships served as moderators.


Among other leaders of USF’s global education initiatives who were also in attendance and participated in workshops were: Karen Holbrook, senior vice president for research, innovation and global affairs; College of Nursing  faculty members Sandra Cadena, director of Global Health and Desiree Metzger; Glen Besterfield, who led a workshop on INTO USF; Kun Shi, director of the USF Confucius Institute and professors Xiaomei  Zu and Mingzhao Hu from Nankai University; Gurleen Grewal, director of the Center for India Studies, Cheryl Rodriguez, director of the Institute on Black Life and Rachel May, director of the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean; Aziz Talbani, director and Stacy Koshko from the Office of Multicultural Affiars; Walter Andrusyzn, College of Business, Karla Davis-Salazar, of the General Education Council; and Janet Moore, associate dean of Undergraduate Studies.


The final workshop was conducted by College of The Arts faculty Fanni Green, Dora Arreola and Jeanne Travers who presented background material and excerpts from Green and Gravers’ What the Heart Remembers: The Women and Children of Darfur” and Arreola’s Blood Wedding.” 


In their own way exemplifying global resources in collaboration, the three explained creative processes that drew from a variety of cultures to create moving pieces of art. Green and Arreola read a scene from Blood Wedding evoking am intense interchange between a mother and daughter from a production influenced by Mexican and Spanish dance and the art of Salvador Dali.  USF School of Dance students Esophia Higgins and Jermaine Thornton performed a particularly powerful and moving scene from “What the Heart Remembers” portraying a deep sense of lost love and beauty that might have been if not for war. Turkish music, a script by Green and choreography by Travers sensitively explored the tragedy of the North African conflict that led to genocide.


At the end of the day a Community Expo in the Marshall Center Oval Theatre Lobby featured booths set up by various campus organizations focusing on diversity issues, including: the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, INTO USF, College of The Arts, the Status of Latinos Presidential Advisory Committee, the Office of Multicultural Affairs,  Presidential Advisory Committee on Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, USF Wellness Education and Promotions, Education Abroad, Title IX Presidential Advisory Committee, Latin American Student Association, Counseling Center, Save Japan Now, Student Disability Services, Student Health Services, and Housing and Residential Education.


“This was such an enriching event on so many levels, with access to some of the best people around speaking on the meaning and importance of diversity,” said event organizer Patsy Feliciano, director of diversity and inclusion in the USF Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity. “Learning how diversity is impacting our world – economically, educationally and personally alters how one sees the world, as well as how we should be making plans and making decisions for the future.”


Sponsors for the summit included USF Student Government, the USF Office of Multicultural Affairs, the USF Status of Latinos Committee, INTO@USF and the event’s first corporate sponsor M&I Bank.   


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.