OIDI June Newsletter

The Miami Pulse

Connecting, Assessing, and Moving Forward our Inclusive Community

June 2023 Edition


Land Acknowledgement

Miami University is located within the traditional homelands of the Myaamia and Shawnee people, who along with other indigenous groups ceded these lands to the United States in the first Treaty of Greenville in 1795. The Miami people, whose name our university carries, were forcibly removed from these homelands in 1846.

In 1972, a relationship between Miami University and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma began and evolved into a reciprocal partnership, including the creation of the Myaamia Center at Miami University in 2001. The work of the Myaamia Center serves the Miami Tribe community and is dedicated to the revitalization of Miami language and culture and to restoring that knowledge to the Myaamia people.

Miami University and the Miami Tribe are proud of this work and of the more than 140 Myaamia students who have attended Miami since 1991 through the Myaamia Heritage Award Program.



Letter from the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion

Greetings Miamians, and congratulations to our recent graduates!

We hope everyone has an opportunity to enjoy some rest this summer.

End of semester is always a busy time, and a time to recognize and celebrate the efforts and accomplishments across Miami to make it a more inclusive community for all. As we closed out the Spring semester, we were excited to come together for our annual University Diversity and Inclusion Awards celebration—scroll down to find out more about the awards and recipients. 

This edition, which coincides with LGBTQ+ Pride Month, features a Staff Spotlight on Dr. April Callis, Associate Director of LGBTQ+ Initiatives in the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, who has led efforts to ensure Miami participates in the Campus Pride Index and who contributes so much to efforts to make Miami more inclusive. In the Faculty Spotlight, we invite you to learn about Zach Soulliard, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Souillard directs BISQue Lab, which is dedicated to research focused on stigma and mental health disparities among those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans/nonbinary, and all other queer (LGBTQ+) identities

We are excited about new initiatives next year, including the Faculty Fellows Program, which is the result of a collaboration between the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office. In the Institutional Spotlight, this edition features Faculty Fellow projects for the coming year. We are excited to welcome Dr. Fauzia Ahmed, Dr. Anita Mannur, and Dr. Haifei Shi as inaugural Faculty Fellows, who will collaborate with the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office on projects connected to building community among international faculty (Ahmed) and mentoring faculty (Mannur and Shi). Our student spotlight is on Centoria McConnell, who founded the student dance team MoXion, and Camber Hayes, who was recently honored as the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Awards female winner of the year.

As you explore opportunities this summer, we invite you to learn more about programming planned for LGBTQ+ Pride Month and Juneteenth. On June 12, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and the Association of Black Faculty and Staff will be hosting the panel "Juneteenth in Modern Times." Featured panelists will be Dr. Vicka Bell-Robinson, Dr. Amber Franklin, and Dr. Darryl Rice. We are intentionally doing this on June 12 to ensure everyone--including those organizing and participating in the programming-- will have June 19 (Juneteenth) to commemorate the holiday away from work. On June 19, we will also share links to recordings of recent Juneteenth lectures and panels on our social media.

As we continue to navigate a complex environment nationally, we continue to work tirelessly to ensure Miami is ever more inclusive. Thank you for all you do to reflect and advance Miami’s commitment to an inclusive community. 

As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions and invite you to reach out to OIDI staff.

M Cristina Alcalde

Love and Honor,

M. Cristina Alcalde, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion
Professor, Global and Intercultural Studies 

Heritage Month Updates

Working in close collaboration with faculty, staff, and student partners, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion provides opportunities for the Miami community to continue our learning and engage in meaningful programming that recognizes, examines, and values historical legacies of a diverse array of identities. Heritage Month programming supports Miami’s inclusive excellence and DEI mission and connects to, among other areas, DEI Task Force Recommendation, Pillar 2: Cultural Consciousness, which encourages the Miami University community to enhance our awareness, knowledge, and skills to enrich and renew our intercultural competence.

The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion will organize programming, and collaborate, coordinate, and support events across campuses through a coordinated calendar for each month; promotion of events; and, when available, limited funding support for proposed events with appeal across campuses.

MU Libraries is partnering with OIDI to feature online resources, including films, books and articles, and class offerings, during each Heritage Month. We invite you to explore these and other educational resources and links on each webpage. We will be adding resources as they become available.

To learn more about this quarter’s heritage months please visit our Heritage Month webpage:

  • June: LGBTQIA+ Pride Month; Juneteenth

History Month Events Submissions 

Now Accepting Submissions for History Month events and programming for Spring semester. Working in close collaboration with faculty, staff, and student partners, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion provides opportunities for the Miami community to continue our learning and engage in meaningful programming that recognizes, examines, and values historical legacies of a diverse array of identities. Heritage Month programming supports Miami’s inclusive excellence and DEI mission and connects to, among other areas, DEI Task Force Pillar 2: Cultural Consciousness, which encourages the Miami University community to enhance our awareness, knowledge, and skills to enrich and renew our intercultural competence. Submit your proposal considering priority deadlines for each proposed history and heritage month celebrations.

Affinity Group Updates

Asian/Asian American Faculty Staff Association

President: April Robles, Director of Operations and Communications

The mission of the Asian/Asian American Faculty Staff Association is to bring together Asian and Asian American faculty and staff, and serve as a supportive community for Asian and Asian American employees and students. The Asian/Asian American Faculty Staff Association is currently building traction with the community and is seeking to provide opportunities for individuals to connect in a more casual atmosphere and then use that leverage to continue the growth and momentum of the group. If you are looking to make an impact and be a leader, this is the group for faculty and staff to join! If it is a personal passion and something they want to do to become more connected to the campus community, you are encouraged to reach out to April Robles to connect.

Association of Black Faculty and Staff

President: Seth Seward, Assistant Director, Alumni Relations

The Association of Black Faculty and Staff stands for diversity, equality, solidarity, and change for campus at large, students, and the Oxford community. As an organization, they will engage and participate in any efforts that are meant to educate and provide clarity of ideas of ending racism and discrimination. The Association of Black Faculty and Staff serves as a safe place for African American or black individuals to come together and meet. This is accomplished through general body meetings and social events. If something arises on campus that impacts the community, they gather together to discuss and hash out solutions in a safe space. The group also works to serve as a support system and network for students, staff, and faculty. While there are no current community events planned, anyone interested in becoming a member is encouraged to complete the membership formstack to connect.

 Association of Latinx Faculty and Staff

President: José Amador, Associate Professor, Global and Intercultural Studies (Latin American, Latino/a, and Caribbean Studies)

The primary goal of the Association of Latinx Faculty and Staff primary is to support and raise awareness about the Latinx faculty and staff. They aim to build networks between departments and units, faculty and students, and Miami university and the community at large. The group also strives to raise the visibility of the Latin American Studies Program and the nearby Latinx community. Additionally, to keep everyone informed about everything Latinx-related, which is done through a weekly “bulletin” with news and events. This organization has been formed by employees of Miami University (Hamilton, Middletown, and Oxford campuses) to foster Latinx, Latin American and Caribbean, and Ibero, Luso-American representation, improve work conditions, and enrich the social and cultural environment for all Miami faculty, staff, and students. Individuals interested in connecting can reach out to José Amador.

Classified Personnel Advisory Committee

President: Angela Coffey Brown, Administrative Assistant, Enrollment Management and Student Success

The Classified Personnel Advisory Committee is established for the purpose of advising the President, Vice Presidents, and Human Resources on matters of interest and concern to classified staff members in the context of the whole university community. The group accomplishes this by bringing issues/concerns/proposals to administration for input and/or action, serving (individual members) on university committees, and providing feedback/input on matters brought to the committee for review. Additionally, the Classified Personnel Advisory Committee is established to provide an institutional venue or forum in which matters of interest or concern to classified staff members can be discussed, considered, and/or moved forward through appropriate channels. Anyone interested in connecting with or joining the committee can contact Angela Coffey Brown or reach out to the CPAC email.

International Faculty and Staff Association

President: Jacqueline Rioja Velarde, Associate Director of the Global Initiatives' CAWC

The goal of the International Faculty and Staff Association at Miami is to support and connect international faculty and staff while helping each other thrive in their specific roles on campus. This is accomplished through connecting with colleagues from diverse cultural, ethnic, racial, linguistic, and educational backgrounds, and broadening perspectives, welcoming diversity, and experiencing inclusion at Miami. The group also seeks to listen, understand, and identify the needs of international faculty/staff, address the concerns and needs of the university, provide relevant resources as needed, and help international faculty/staff. The main goal of the group is to support one another in professional development at the university.

IFSAM recently had a change in leadership. The new president for the group is Jacqueline Rioja Velarde. Jacque is the Associate Director of the Global Initiatives’ CAWC. She joined Miami University in 2003 as faculty in Geography and the Latin American Studies Program, and the CAWC in 2006. She initiated her career in higher education at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru -PUCP. She earned her B.A. in Humanities & B.Ed. in Social Sciences from the PUCP; and her M.A. in Geography from Syracuse University. Practitioner of Global education co-curriculum development with a focus on DEI & social justice pedagogy; intercultural communications; and ICQ Global DISC™. 

The group also has a newly appointed communications chair, Ebru Dirsel-Duffield. Ebru has been teaching in the ACE (American Culture and English) Program since 2013. She earned her doctoral degree in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) at the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests include ESL teacher education, non-native English speakers, second language acquisition, and cross-cultural adaptation.  

Interested individuals can reach out to IFSAM’s president Jacqueline Rioja Velarde, communications chair Ebru Dirsel-Duffield, or to the IFSA email.

Queer and Trans Faculty and Staff Association

President: Emily Cluen, Resident Director, Office of Resident Life

The goal of the Queer and Trans Faculty and Staff Association is to create space for the LGBTQIA community on campus and advocate for queer and trans individuals needs. The group is currently working on establishing and maintaining a larger group to allow for more capacity moving forward. For more details or to join our listserv, email The group is looking to host more events moving forward to connect with more folks on campus and provide more networking opportunities. Interested individuals can email the group’s email address to connect.

Unclassified Personnel Advisory Committee

President: Sarah Persinger, Associate Director DBS Technology Operations & Support

The Unclassified Personnel Advisory Committee was created in 1983 to advise the University Administration (specifically the president and vice presidents) on matters of interest and concern to unclassified personnel. Committee members are selected to reflect a balance of gender, race/ethnicity, campus, division, level in the organization, responsibilities, years of university service, and any other characteristics that help to achieve a balance of knowledge, experience, viewpoints, interests and talents. The group’s most recent endeavor was focussing on wellness and bringing back access and funding to wellness areas on campus. Individuals interested in joining are encouraged to attend the monthly virtual meetings, which take place on the second Tuesday of each month. Interested individuals can also connect with Sarah Persinger for more information.

To learn more about affinity groups or to join a group, check out the main affinity groups web page for more information.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Campus Spotlight

Miami Spotlight

Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellows Program

Inclusive Excellence university-wide efforts are continuously responding to campus community needs and our common goal of  building a more inclusive Miami for all. This goal cannot be accomplished by one single unit or office, but rather must be a community-wide undertaking across campuses in order to facilitate lasting change on campus. The Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellows Program reflects our inclusive excellence and holistic, inclusive approach. 

In the 2021-2022 academic cycle, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) focused on restructuring and reorganizing internally, and on centering university-wide efforts that contribute to capacity-building, systemic change, and cultural transformation. As a part of these efforts, OIDI in partnership with the Office of the Provost, launched the Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellows Program.

The Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellows Program was established in recognition of the efforts and role of faculty in fostering a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable Miami, this program is a professional development opportunity for faculty to deepen their knowledge and expertise as leaders in actively advancing change. Fellows will collaborate with OIDI in the Fellow’s chosen area, as well as collaborate more broadly on programming and initiatives, to advance Miami’s DEI commitments.

Fellows may propose developing and implementing community-building, pedagogical, mentoring, professional development, networking, initiatives, or programming that will advance Inclusive excellence at Miami. Fellows must clearly show how the proposed project benefits students (graduate and/or undergraduate), faculty, and/or staff across units. The fellowship period will serve as a professional development opportunity for university-wide inclusive excellence.

The 2023 Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellows are (listed alphabetically by last name): Fauzia Ahmed, Anita Mannur, and Haifei Shi. Below is a breakdown of their individual goals and the projects they will be conducting during their year-long tenure in the program.

Learn about what our Faculty Fellows will be focusing on:


Building Community Among International Faculty 


Fauzia Erfan Ahmed, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Gerontology

Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program

Fauzia Erfan Ahmed, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Gerontology in the College of Arts and Science. Ahmed came to the United States many decades ago fleeing from a civil war in her country. As an international student at Harvard, she has first-hand experience of what it means to adjust to a different culture and educational system. Ahmed became a US citizen in 2011. “Miami needs to effectively prepare students to live in a globalized world; this means that we need to explore ways of recruiting and retaining more international faculty, staff, and students.” Ahmed’s research focuses on various aspects of gender empowerment: masculinity and microcredit, gender and Islam, gender governance, globalization, and the sweatshop industry. Her most recent project is gender and empowerment amongst adolescents in the Rohingya refugee camps. She is currently writing a book manuscript, Microcredit and Masculinity, which is under contract with the University of California Press.

Ahmed was inspired to apply for the Fellows program as an opportunity to “improve things for international faculty, and how this relates to Miami's plan of becoming a premier global university.  I also wanted to support Dr. Alcalde. She has created many exciting initiatives and I feel that she's trying to transform the culture and create an inclusive climate. As a Fellow, I plan to explore the DEI concerns of international women faculty at Miami and provide policy and strategy recommendations to the administration.”  

Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Mentoring Program


Anita Mannur, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of English


Haifei Shi, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Biology

Anita Mannur, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Science. Mannur has been at Miami since 2009, and has always had a strong interest in mentorship. She chose comparative literature for her studies because she was intrigued by its focus on thinking about literature across racial and ethnic traditions. Mannur's book titled Intimate Eating Publics was published in 2022 and is about trying to think about the way food allows certain intimacies to emerge that would not have otherwise: “We often think about eating together as a way to build family, but what if we think about it in a way that is not so heteronormatively imagined? What if sharing food allows strangers who would never talk to one another connect over something?”

Haifei Shi, Ph.D., is a Professor for the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Science. Professor Shi has been at Miami for 14 years and her current research focuses on the neural and hormonal control of energy metabolism, and the mechanisms of pathological conditions and related diseases such as obesity and cancer. This is an important issue for understanding and treating obesity and related disorders. The overall research goal is to investigate effects of sex differences in the regulation of energy metabolism. Graduate and undergraduate students in Professor Shi’s laboratory use physiological, biochemical, cellular, and molecular techniques in their projects. Her work includes increased representation of female subjects, and this effort has led to interesting and insightful discoveries.

Mannur was inspired to apply for the Fellows program, as she saw the program as “a great opportunity to think about what I value as a professor and how I can try and change Miami’s institutional culture.” Mannur was seeking more structure from Miami with more resources and support, and hoped the Fellows program would  provide faculty with these networks. Shi was inspired to apply for the Fellows program, as she aspires to create and further a sense of faculty belonging on campus. “When I came to Miami, I had senior professors guiding me through different processes and ambiguous requirements. I received a lot of support and mentoring, and I want to provide this support to my colleagues, especially junior, woman and minority faculty members.” 

The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion is excited to collaborate with Faculty Fellows, in partnership with the Provost’s Office, as we collectively work towards an ever  more inclusive Miami. Join us in congratulating and celebrating our inaugural Faculty Fellows! Should you see opportunities for collaboration with our office of the Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellows, please contact our office directly at

Interviews conducted by: Marcella-Alysia Argüello (she/her), Psychology and Critical Race Ethnic Studies, Class of 2024; Anna Reiner (she/her), Public Health major with a concentration in Human Disease/Epidemiology, Class of 2024

Faculty Spotlight


Zach Soulliard, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Lab Director, BISQue Lab

The BISQue Lab is dedicated to conducting research focused on stigma and mental health disparities among those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans/nonbinary, and all other queer (LGBTQ+) identities.  The aims of the BISQue Lab are to “conduct research that leads to significantly reducing the elevated rates of body image concerns and eating pathology among LGBTQ+ people'' and to “conduct implementation-based research with the goal of equipping mental health providers with evidence-based, LGBTQ-affirmative treatment, specifically LGBTQ-affirmative CBT [Cognitive Behavioral Therapy].” 

Lab Director Zach Soulliard, Ph.D., founded the lab in 2022. When asked about his inspirations for creating this research lab, Soulliard explained that “Ever since my own undergraduate training and especially since pursuing graduate studies in clinical psychology, a passion of mine has been to combat the mental health disparities and inequities faced by the LGBTQ+ community. My own personal experiences as a member of the community have been a significant motivator in me pursuing this work.” Soulliard further explained that the LGBTQ+ community faces a variety of stigmas, both systemically and in personal forms. Soulliard stated, “in developing the BISQue lab, my hope is to have a space that is fully dedicated to, at the broadest level, conducting LGBTQ+ psychology research.”

Currently, the BISQue lab’s research is broadly examining “the relationships among body image (both negative and positive facets), eating behaviors, and overall mental health among LGBTQ+ people.” This is being accomplished through a variety of studies that are taking place within the lab. One of these studies is focusing on “the experience of trans/nonbinary populations, specifically, examining  experiences related to facets of positive body image, such as body appreciation. While there is important literature being conducted focused on gender dysphoria among trans/nonbinary folks, there's significantly less research focused on what trans/nonbinary people value and respect about their bodies, as well as celebrating bodies that do not necessarily conform to cisgender body ideals and norms.”

Another study currently taking place in the BISQue lab is one that seeks to expand a more recent theory called intraminority gay community stress.” Soulliard explained that “in short, this theory posits that internal group stressors within the mainstream gay community, such as a focus on status, competition, sex, and exclusion of diversity, may explain the elevated rates of mental health concerns in this population. To date, the theory has only been studied among predominantly cisgender, sexual minority men. To further expand this theory, my lab is currently in the very early stages of testing this theory among transgender sexual minority men, inclusive of those who may identify as a man within the trans community.”

One of the BISQue lab’s goals is to conduct research that has relevant applications to benefit the LGBTQ+ community. Soulliard elaborated, “Based on my background as a clinical psychologist, most of that probably will happen in clinical spaces like psychotherapy, for example, providing knowledge and skills that mental health clinicians can implement when working with LGBTQ+ clients. I would also say on an even broader note, my hope for the BISQue lab is to shine a light on a population that has historically been ignored, or worse, pathologized in the field of psychology. By centering the experiences of those part of the LGBTQ+ community, my hope is that we can change the narrative of how psychology thinks about this minoritized population in future research.”

Soulliard’s hope is that the BISQue lab has a long-term impact not only within the field, but also within the Miami community at large. Soulliard would like the lab to have a lasting impact both within the psychology department and the university community: "There's no other lab in the psychology department focusing exclusively on the LGBTQ+ community. In just my one year here at Miami, I've been so excited by the enthusiasm and excitement that many have expressed about my research. Several students have already reached out expressing interest in being part of the lab. Along with conducting research, I also hope that the BISQue Lab can serve as a safe space for LGBTQ+ students here at Miami." Soulliard went on to explain that in his time so far at Miami, he has noticed several efforts dedicated toward inclusive excellence and building a more inclusive Miami not only for members in the LGBTQ+ community, but for those who carry other minoritized identities. He explained that it is his hope that the BISQue lab can serve as another piece in this effort and make a difference within the Miami community.

To learn more about the BISQue lab, their research, or to connect with the lab team, students are encouraged to visit the lab’s webpage and to follow the lab on Twitter for the latest information. Students interested in joining the BISQue Lab as a research assistant can reach out to the lab email (

Interview Conducted by:Marcella-Alysia Argüello (she/her), Psychology and Critical Race Ethnic Studies, Class of 2024

Staff Spotlight


April Callis, Ph.D.

Associate Director, LGBTQ+ Initiatives

Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion

Since its creation in 2007, the Campus Pride Index has been the leading national benchmarking tool for colleges and universities nationwide to create safer, more inclusive campus communities for LGBTQ+ students. This free online tool allows prospective students to explore a database of LGBTQ+ friendly campuses who have actively taken steps to improve the academic experience and quality of campus life for LGBTQ+ students.

Since joining Miami’s campus, April Callis, Associate Director of LGBTQ+ Initiatives in the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion (CSDI), has led the efforts on behalf of Miami University for the Campus Pride Index. Callis’s work within CSDI centers around leading campus wide educational initiatives focused on LGBTQIA+ identities and experiences. The role also serves as an advocate for LGBTQIA+ student inclusion across campus.

Upon her arrival at Miami two years ago, Callis’s predecessor had begun putting information together but had not yet submitted to the Campus Pride Index. Callis worked to connect with campus stakeholders to discuss the work being done across campus to support Miami’s LGBTQ+ community holistically. From there, she began to process the questions and data needed to submit to the Campus Pride Index.

When asked about the significance of the Campus Pride Index for Miami and the LGBTQ+ community on campus, Callis explained “there are great things about having this ranking, and then I think there are some things that are challenging. In some ways, we are making a promise that I then want to make sure we are fulfilling to the students who see our ranking.” Callis continued noting that the Campus Pride Index allows for students to gain a holistic view of a potential campus, including what types of services may be available to them and what type of environment they can find on campus. This could include things like inclusive housing, inclusive health services, and student life on campus. Callis explained that when it comes to the Campus Pride Index, “I think it is a phenomenal recruiting tool. But I want to make sure that we're also thinking about retention, and making sure that those experiences are matching these numbers that we have when students arrive on campus.”

Miami University was recently awarded a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on the Campus Pride Index. This rating was achieved upon the second submission to the Campus Pride Index: “The first time we submitted, Miami received a 4 star rating. From there, I created a plan based on areas that we needed to do some work. I met with a variety of stakeholders and key people across campus to discuss where we were and what efforts we could make to move towards a 4.5 star rating. Then it was a matter of putting in the work and creating relationships to create change together.” Some areas that were addressed from the first 4 star rating included a recent campus climate survey, which was conducted by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion this spring, and the creation of a student organization for QTBIPOC (Queer Trans Black Indigenous People of Color) students. More trainings were also implemented across campus, particularly in areas like MUPD, Admissions, Athletics, Student Counseling Service, and in Health Services. Further, the CSDI started offering free and anonymous HIV testing once a month, Student Counseling Services started offering a weekly support group for LGBTQIA+ students, and an emergency fund for queer and trans students was created.

Callis went on to explain that the work put in from the campus community was a reflection of how inclusive excellence operates at Miami: “DEI work is hard. Supporting LGBTQ+ students is hard, but I say to students all the time, and I firmly believe still, that the people at Miami, the culture at Miami is to do better and to make strides in this area. I think that inclusive excellence is a conversation that I'm hearing happen around campus, and sometimes things don't change as quickly as students wish that they would or could, but I feel like change is something that happens here… I have that belief because I've seen it happen with things in the time that I've been here. It’s not a mistake that we've moved from a 4 to 4.5 because things change, and it's not going to be just lip service. When we get to a five star it will be once again because things change. I know that they will, because I've seen that appetite for change here. And yes, I work specifically with LGBTQ+ identities, but I'm seeing that around students with disabilities. I'm seeing that around students of color. I see that around campus, and it's something that I really appreciate.”

The type of inclusive excellence Callis sees across campus is not something that happens overnight, nor is it something that takes place without campus stakeholders coming together through coalition building to work towards a common goal. As Callis and other stakeholders work together to expand systems of support across campus, Callis noted that “working towards a 5 star rating is not the finish line. The 5 star Campus Pride Index should be the floor, not the ceiling. A 5 out of 5 is no small accomplishment, and I will be grateful for the hard work it takes for us to get there; however, reaching that 5 star rating is not the finish line. It really just means we are at a place where there is a more level playing field for LGBTQ+ students. What we do with that is a much larger responsibility.”

To learn more about the Campus Pride Index and Miami’s rating, visit the Campus Pride Index website. To learn more about Callis’ work in CSDI and upcoming programs and initiatives, visit the CSDI website.

Interview Conducted byAbbie Proeschel (she/her), Communications and Events Coordinaotr, Office of Instiutional diversity and Inclusion

Student Spotlight


Centoria (C.J.) McConnell

Founder, MoXion

Political Science Major; Social Justice and Inequalities Minor, Class of 2024

HBCU-styled Majorette has a rich history, originating as a type of high stepping and baton twirling that took off at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The dancing style has since morphed into a mixture of multiple styles of dancing, including jazz, hip-hop, ballet, and more to entertain audiences while honoring West-African roots and the dancers who came before them. While majorette culture combines modern and traditional styles of dance, many majorette dancers seek to reach the next generation with a strong connection to the culture that started it all. It is within this space that MoXion was founded.

MoXion (mo-shun), a student dance team founded by Centoria McConnell, is the first majorette team of its kind on Miami’s campus. MoXion’s constitution states that the purpose of the team is to showcase the extravagance and fluidity of Black cultural dancing styles (centering around Black majorette) while uplifting its members and growing their talents. Other dance teams do exist at Miami, but MoXion is the first HBCU-styled majorette team on campus. McConnell notes that, “Over time other dance teams on campus have raised the standards for getting into their teams, which excluded a lot of people who didn’t have access to the necessary training or resources to even get the opportunity to be involved. Dancing has been a big privilege for me and I realized how many people couldn’t and can’t afford it. Sometimes my parents couldn’t or would work hard trying. I wanted to create an inclusive space for the dancing styles I was looking for, and the people who want to dance but may not have been able to before.”

McConnell’s inspirations for forming MoXion stem from her long-time passion for dancing: “I started dancing when I was four years old. Dancing has always been a passion of mine and is something that really made me happy.” McConnell’s dance experience began with jazz, contemporary, traditional drill/baton dance, and hip hop. McConnell shared that she “had a lot of Black and African American instructors who incorporated a variety of practices from the African diaspora.” 

Through her time in dance, McConnell has experienced a variety of spaces, noting that she “moved around a lot as a child. I have been in all-black cultural dance spaces and all-white dance spaces. When I moved to Ohio from Missouri I started cheer because I found that the same type of dancing I was looking for wasn’t available to me at my school. When I began looking at colleges, a lot of the cheer teams I researched had a weight requirement and I could tell I wouldn’t fit in. It made me unsure as to whether or not I could continue with dance or cheer in college.”

Upon her arrival at Miami, McConnell was able to witness some of the different dance teams on campus at football and basketball games; however, their style was not within the realm that she was searching for. “I was looking for more of an HBCU-style majorette. I sought out Vision, which does a lot of mixing of dance styles, but I realized it still wasn’t the same.” McConnell  realized that the majorette style of dancing she was seeking did not yet exist on campus, which led to her founding the student dance team MoXion in October 2022.

The team’s first operational semester came to a close at the end of the spring 2023 term. McConnell noted that bringing the team together has been an incredibly unique experience, as there are dancers from all backgrounds on the team: “I have people who have never been on a dance team, some who have danced before, or others who have been in cheer. Everyone has had to get comfortable with one another and the variety of dance styles. From tryouts to now, I have seen a lot of growth and improvement.” McConnell went on to explain that she has been very happy with how MoXion has come together, noting, “I am so proud of the girls on my team. I’m grateful for everyone that has continued to practice and commit to it. There is no team or organization that really functions as we do; we don't have a coach, we are not a Miami University official dance team, and we are the first of our kind.”

As MoXion continues to develop and expand its reach, McConnell is excited about future plans and progress. McConnell expressed that while everyone on the team has individual goals, MoXion as an organization would like to eventually “get more uniforms and do a variety of performances. We would also like to march at the homecoming parade this fall.” McConnell also noted that every semester, MoXion will be conducting a dance workshop. The first took place in March as a “Heelz” dance workshop co-hosted with the Illustrious Xi Rho Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. McConnell went on to explain that “our general dance workshops are not strictly traditionally HBCU style majorette. Every semester we will have a workshop called ‘Move like MoXion’ which is where we will explicitly teach the majorette-styled dances.” Overall, McConnell expressed appreciation for all the support that MoXion has received to date. She expressed that “MoXion is here to stay, so expect more from us in the future!”

To learn more about MoXion or to connect with the team, you can follow them on Instagram or reach out via The Hub.

Interview Conducted byAnna Reiner (she/her), Public Health major with a concentration in Human Disease/Epidemiology, Class of 2024

Student Spotlight



Camber Hayes

Biology/Pre-Med Major, Class of 2024

Each year, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education sponsors the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Awards. These awards were designed to “honor students of color who have excelled in the classroom as well as on the athletic field. Inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe, Jr.'s commitment to education as well as his love for the game of tennis, U.S. colleges and universities are invited to participate in this annual awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars.” In addition to their athletic ability and academic performance, Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars must demonstrate a commitment to community service and student leadership. 

In April, the 2023 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Awards were announced with Camber Hayes being recognized as the female winner for the year. Recently, Hayes met with a member of our staff to discuss her accomplishments along with her hard work and dedication that have made her an excellent recipient of this award.

Hayes grew up in Bowie, Maryland, where she and her three siblings all played soccer. Hayes described this as a unique bonding experience for her family: “It's funny because my parents didn't play soccer. My older brother just started and we all just followed after him, so it was really funny that we all became so dedicated to soccer. My parents grew with the addition of sports and so it was a really good bonding thing for us all to do." 

Hayes herself has been playing soccer since she was four years old and has always had a strong dedication to the game. Playing the game throughout her childhood and into adulthood has been a long standing passion for her. Hayes came to play at Miami after recruiters witnessed her talent at a tournament game in Maryland and connected with her to arrange a visit to the campus. Hayes explained that before her visit, she had been unfamiliar with Miami University; however, her parents encouraged her to explore the campus. Hayes was glad she did: “I immediately felt welcomed, particularly by the coaching staff. I was able to meet my now teammates, along with some of the professors on campus, and I felt like this was it. I was also really impressed with the personal development Miami’s athletics promised and has followed through on. They’ve really aided in my development, both as a person and as a player.”

In addition to a phenomenal soccer career, Hayes maintains a strong dedication toward the betterment of the community. When she is not studying for her classes or spending time at practice, Hayes spends her time giving back to the community: “It feels good to be able to give back to others. All through middle and high school, I volunteered through my church to help make and distribute healthy lunches for people in need in my area. I’ve also volunteered at the hospital, where I usually spend time helping serve meals and giving the patients someone to connect and talk with.”

When asked how it felt to be awarded the 2023 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sports Scholar Award, Hayes explained that the experience has been surreal. “I didn't think I had any chance of doing it. When I was named a finalist, I thought it was cool to even be considered, because every other nominee had outstanding experiences. To see that I actually won was amazing. Everyone who has supported me have come together in their own ways in celebration. My teammates had a party for me and my family and professors have all been reaching out to me as well. It’s been a great feeling.” Hayes expressed her recognition as the 2023 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sports Scholar has been a reflection of her time and experiences at Miami, noting that the support and encouragement she has received here has allowed her to thrive in her success.

As Hayes continues her education and sports career, she works towards becoming a veterinarian in hopes of working with larger animals. Hayes continues to dedicate herself to her sport and to her community, constantly working for the betterment of herself and those around her. 

To follow Hayes' journey and for the latest updates on the Miami Women's Soccer team, visit the Miami Athletics page.

Interview Conducted by: Abbie Proeschel (she/her), Communications and Events Coordinaotr, Office of Instiutional diversity and Inclusion

Submission for DEI Spotlight

Do you know a student, faculty member, or staff member who is doing standout diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work? We are looking to highlight individuals at Miami who are doing DEI work and making an impact across our campuses or in the community at large. Our goal is to highlight DEI works around our campuses and showcase the incredible work our community is undertaking. Submit your suggestions for our next edition's spotlight!

Research Insights

Stephanie Danker, Ph.D., Associate Professor or Art Education, Department of Art

Faculty Affiliate, Myaamia Center

Danker, S. H., & Bradshaw, R. D. (2022). Conceptualizing art integration through currere. Currere Exchange Journal, 6(2), 118–127.

Sherrill Sellers, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Un undergraduate Education and Professor, Department of Family Science and Social Work

Hicks, N., Sellers, S. L., Zhang, J., Sun, N., & Harris, K. 2022. What Matters Most? Intersectional Correlates of Caregiver Burden. Journal of Applied Gerontology. 41(9): 2013-2021.


Campus Announcements and Upcoming Events

Hamilton Ohio Pride Celebration

Saturday, June 3 │11 a.m. - 10 p.m. │Rotary Park, Marcum Park, Riversedge


Join Hamilton Ohio Pride for their annual pride celebration on Saturday, June 3. The day’s festivities will begin with a march in Marcum Park starting at 11:00 a.m., followed by a festival from noon to 6:00 p.m. in Marcum Park. The day will close with a concert from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Riversedge. 

Miami will be hosting a group this year for faculty, staff, students, and alums - if you are interested in joining our group please fill out this form (Sponsored by the Miami University Alumni Association, 1809 LGBTQ+ Alumni Board, Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, Oxford PFLAG Chapter, Queer & Trans Faculty/Staff Association, Miami University Regionals’ Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion).

For more information and updates, follow Hamilton Ohio Pride on
Instagram or visit their website.

Juneteenth in Modern Times

Monday, June 12 | Noon to 1:30 pm | McGuffey Hall 322


The Miami University community is invited to learn about the history of Juneteenth and hear from our community leaders dedicated to advancing inclusion on campus. Panelists will reflect about the past, present and hope for the future.

We are commemorating Juneteenth on Monday, June 12, in honor of the federal holiday. This will allow all Miami University faculty, staff and students to thoughtfully learn about the legacy and celebrate Juneteenth day of. Juneteenth represents the day, June 19, 1865, which commemorates the day the last remaining enslaved people in the United States (i.e. Galveston, Texas) received word that they were liberated.

Sponsored by: Association of Black Faculty and Staff and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. 

Cincinnati Pride Festival

Saturday, June 24 │Noon to 9:00 p.m. │Sawyer Point

The Cincinnati Pride Festival is a family-friendly, fun event that takes place at Sawyer Point Park on the fourth Saturday in June. This year's date is Saturday, June 24, 2023 and it is FREE for everyone!  Food, drinks, vendors and entertainment will fill your Saturday afternoon with fun. 

Miami will be hosting a group this year for faculty, staff, students, and alums - if you are interested in joining our group please fill out this form (Sponsored by the Miami University Alumni Association, 1809 LGBTQ+ Alumni Board, Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, Oxford PFLAG Chapter, Queer & Trans Faculty/Staff Association, Miami University Regionals’ Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion).

For more information on the Cincinnati Pride Festival, please visit their website.  

Newsletter Submissions

For more information and updates, please add the DEI events Calendar to your Google calendar. To have your event added to the calendar, please complete the newsletter submission form.

Applications, Nominations, and Leadership Opportunities

University Diversity and Inclusion Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2023 University Diversity and Inclusion Awards! Recipients were recognized for their exemplary commitment and contributions to advancing diversity and inclusion at Miami at the University Awards Ceremony on April 26th.

Thank you to the award recipients, and to every Miami community member whose efforts contribute to making Miami more inclusively excellent for all.


Photo:  Seated (left to right): Laura Birkenhauer, Jennifer Heston-Mullins, Kenna Neitch, Kennedy Hughs, Jacky Johnson. Standing (left to right): Renate Crawford, John Ward, Darryl Rice, April Callis, Tina Coyne, Megan Kuykendoll, M. Cristina Alcalde

  • Institutional Inclusive Excellence Award: Jacky Johnson
  • Distinguished DEI Service Award: Student Counseling Service
  • Ray of Light Award: Laura Birkenhauer
  • Ray of Light Award: Jennifer Heston-Mullins
  • Ray of Light Award: Darryl B. Rice
  • Diversity and Inclusion Student Advocate Award: Kennedy Hughes
  • Diversity Event of the Year Award: Queer and Transgender Conference and Convention, QT-CON

Capacity-Building and Leadership Development

Across the Divide Conference 


The Across the Divide (ATD) Conference is the premier conference for faculty, staff, and students at Miami University to invest in conversations about inclusive excellence, with a goal to promote a deeper community understanding of the key issues related to inclusion, best practices, research, and community building to further the institution's core values.  The theme for the 2023 conference was, “Leading Through Innovation and Creativity for Transformative Inclusion.” This theme allowed us to explore our innovative spirit and creative outlets as forums for effective positive change in our community and celebrating diversity.  


We had the distinct privilege of hosting Dr. Ronald A. Crutcher, a previous Provost of Miami University and two time president at two other institutions come and be the keynote for the conference.  This year’s conference also had some unique pieces due in part to great partnerships with colleagues across the institution.  First and foremost, we want to thank the Marcum Hotel and Conference Center for sponsoring the entire space for this conference.  It allowed attendees to have a great experience while staying in the same building throughout the day for conference sessions.  Next, we would like to thank the President's Office for their support in securing Dr. Ronald A. Crutcher as our keynote.  He was able to inspire our community to see the ways in which leadership can show up through relationship building and encouraged us to build those connections now.  Global Initiatives was also able to realign their Cesar Chavez Celebration to align with the conference to kick-off the entire experience and allow our community to celebrate Cesar Chavez’s legacy as part of ATD this year with Latinx poet Manuel Iris lecture and poetry writing workshop. Lastly, the College of Creative Arts worked with us to bring four international artists and activists connected to the Electric Root Festival to augment ATD and amplify their efforts to engage the campus community more at the Electric Root Festival. These invaluable partnerships allowed ATD this year to be a resounding success with 65 faculty, 145 staff, 22 undergraduate, and 25 graduate students in attendance for a total of 257 attendees.  We also had 46 faculty, staff, and student presenters with 16 conference sessions on topics ranging from story circles to inclusive marketing to be in conversation about best practices and innovative research to support our mission to be a more inclusive community.

Reimagining the Academy: Building Communities for Access and Transformational Change

Miami University, Kent State University, and Ohio University have joined forces to form a collaborative conference: Reimagining the Academy: Building Communities for Access and Transformational Change. Previously, each university held an annual conference on topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion. This new alliance will allow the universities to come together for one conference that will share expertise and leverage their strengths. 

Reimagining the Academy will take place October 18-19, 2023 in the Kent Student Center. Virtual engagement opportunities will also be available. 

Registration will be free to faculty, staff and students at each of the collaborating institutions.

Keynote speaker and Miami alum, Carol Anderson, Ph.D., will speak on October 19th. Dr. Anderson is a professor of African American Studies at Emory University and is the author of several bestselling books including The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (2020), One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy (2018) and the critically-acclaimed #1 bestseller White Rage (2016).

Those interested in joining the conference listserv to receive up-to-date information regarding announcements, registration, important dates and more should visit

Additional questions can be sent to 

We look forward to having you join us for this very enriching conference. Thank you!


Cristina Alcalde, Ph.D.

Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion

Miami University

Amoaba Gooden, Ph.D.
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Professor of Africana Studies
Kent State University

Salome Nnoromele, Ph.D.
Interim Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion
Ohio University

Redhawks Equity Leadership Series


Join our online cultural competency certificate for undergraduate and graduate students. We invite all students to sign up to be a part of the first cohort of students to complete the training starting September 2023. The Redhawks Equity Leadership Series encompasses a set of five workshops: (1) Allyship, (2) Anti-Racism, (3) Diversity Statement Workshop, (4) DEI in Resumes/CVs Workshop, (5) Pronouns 101. Enroll today by signing up by completing the Registration Form.

We hope to keep updating this series with additional workshops, resources, and upcoming events to support students' growth as inclusive leaders.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Leadership Certificate

Join our online Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion course and learn how to be an active ally, inclusive leader, and effective mediator. Extend your individual experiences and knowledge with research-based tools and strategies to thrive as an advocate for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world.

The DEI Leadership Certificate utilizes five foundational modules: (1) Bias, Stereotypes, and Microaggressions, (2) Race and Anti-Racism, (3) LGBTQ+ Identities, (4) Ableism and Inclusion, 5) Allyship and Advocacy.

Current registrants have until June 15th to complete their certificate modules. For more information, please visit DEI in Leadership Certificate.

Religious Observances and Inclusive Scheduling

As we enter the summer season, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI)  encourages all Miami community members to consult the full list of Religious Observances and Inclusive Scheduling dates on our website. Below we highlight a few key religious holidays and observances, including a description of the holiday, best practices, and customary greetings to support our active investment in fostering an inclusive campus community.  Please note that these are not all of the holidays that are taking place in the summer, nor is this a fully inclusive list.

June 28-29* - Eid al-Adha (Islam) 

  • Description: Eid al-Adha celebrates the Quranic tale of Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice Isamil as an act of obedience to Allah. It is also known as the feast of sacrifice. Many Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Adha by participating in prayers, mosque services, and exchanging greetings and gifts. The tradition for Eid al-Adha involves slaughtering an animal and sharing the meat in three equal parts. The meat is meant to be a good deed, and is meant to be shared with three groups: family, friends and relatives, and the poor. 
  • Best Practices:  When providing food at functions, please consider foods that are Halal. We also recommend avoiding scheduling deadlines or activities on these days since this is a time of celebration and prayer.  
  • Customary Greetings: “Eid Mubarak" (MOO-bah-ROK) or "Happy Eid”


Jul 26-Jul 27* - Tish B’Av (Judaism)

  • Description: Tish B’Av is a day of mourning to commemorate many tragedies that have befallen Jewish people, many occurring on the ninth of Av. Tisha B'Av marks the end of the three weeks between dire straits and is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, and it is thus believed to be a day which is destined for tragedy. The observance of the day includes five prohibitions, most notable of which is a 25-hour fast. The Book of Lamentations, which mourns the destruction of Jerusalem, is read in the synagogue, followed by the recitation of kinnot, liturgical dirges that lament the loss of the Temples and Jerusalem.
  • Best Practices:  Please consider the practice of fasting when scheduling any events, “lunch meetings,” or scheduling lengthy presentations. Not all will fast or take time off, but they may still observe in various ways. We also recommend avoiding scheduling deadlines or activities on these days since this is a time of mourning and prayer.  
  • Customary Greetings: It is customary to avoid greeting people on Tisha B'av, due to the solemn nature of the day.


Note: ​​“*” denotes holidays that start sundown the day before. Please note that individual practices may vary. 

We also encourage the use of our Religious Observances and Inclusive Scheduling calendar to provide guidance and help avoid scheduling important events, activities, and deadlines on holidays observed by members of the Miami community.  Should you or a member of your team have any questions or concerns on how to best utilize this information or on appropriate accommodations, please contact the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion or the Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity.

Call for Submissions

If you have any Miami updates or relevant information that you would like to have included in the next edition, please complete the newsletter submission form.


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