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Friday Forum: Ensuring Belonging for All

March 24 @ 1:00 pm 2:30 pm MDT

A strong sense of belonging helps students feel safer and more supported on campus and studies show this positively impacts student persistence, graduation, and even performance. But students who have the hardest time feeling like they belong on campus and in the classroom may need additional support from their institutions. 

Panelists will discuss the recent research on belonging that has made the concept more visible and tangible, the difficulties that still affect belonging for marginalized communities, and the challenges for faculty and staff.

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Daniel Cairo

Daniel K. Cairo, EdD

Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
The University of Utah


Dr. Daniel K. Cairo (he/him/él) is a scholar-practitioner that brings over twelve years of experience leading programs that support diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. As an educator and organizational leader, he has developed successful equity and inclusion programs at multiple institutions. Dr. Cairo’s area of expertise ensures that belonging is understood and measured in ways that provide a clear roadmap for organizational interventions. Dr. Cairo is the co-author of the book The Corporatization of Student Affairs: Serving Students in Neoliberal Times

portrait of Rachel Bonnette

Rachel Bonnette, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher and Project Coordinator
Department of Instruction and Learning
University at Buffalo


Rachel Bonnette (she/her) is a Learning Scientist in the Department of Learning and Instruction at the University of Buffalo. Her research focus is on transforming neurodivergent learning and belonging in STEM using Intersectionality and a social model of disability as a lens for examining current practices and new interventions for removing barriers to inclusion. She relies on co-design processes and interdisciplinarity to engage in equitable design-based research that emphasizes addressing inequality from the perspective of neurodivergent students, in addition to elevating the expertise of practitioners. Her prior published work includes both in- and out-of-school learning, including young adult learning in makerspace communities of practice and factors that influence middle school students’ science fascination.

portrait of Allison BrckaLorenz

Allison BrckaLorenz, PhD

Associate Research Scientist
Center for Postsecondary Research
Indiana University Bloomington


Allison BrckaLorenz, Ph.D. (she/her) is the director of the College + University Teaching Environments project, project manager for the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, and a research scientist for the National Survey of Student Engagement. In her work at the Center for Postsecondary Research, she helps people use data to make improvements on their campuses, uses data to highlight the experiences of traditionally marginalized subpopulations, and provides professional development opportunities and mentoring to graduate students. Her research interests focus on supportive teaching environments for faculty, the teaching and learning of college students and the accompanying issues faced by faculty, the socialization of graduate students, and the experiences of small and understudied populations.

portrait of Timothy Eatman

Timothy Eatman, PhD

Dean and Professor
Rutgers University – Newark


Timothy K. Eatman, Ph.D., (he/him) an educational sociologist and publicly engaged scholar, serves as the Inaugural Dean of the Honors Living – Learning Community and Professor of Urban Education at Rutgers University-Newark. He holds or has held several leadership positions of note within higher education including as faculty co-director of the national consortium Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life (2012 – 2016). Tim currently serves as national co-chair of the Urban Research Based Action Network and past chair of the International Association for Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement. Tim is in his second term on the board of directors of the American Association of Colleges and Universities currently serving as vice-chair. Pursuing a rigorous scholarly agenda, Tim publishes widely, serves on editorial boards and reviews for Academic publishing houses, scholarly journals and conferences. He is co-editor of The Cambridge Handbook of Service Learning and Community Engagement.

portrait of Na Lor

Na Lor

Assistant Professor of Sociology and Education
Teachers College
Columbia University


Na Lor (she/her) is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University’s Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis with a focus on higher education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Lor researches education inequity from a cultural historical perspective using multiple methods and interdisciplinary approaches. Her recent work includes exploration of cultural ideals and aspirations that shape non-dominant (e.g., non-White and non-upperclass) student success in higher education, such as collective thriving, cultural flourishing, and cultural identity development. Her current projects involve examination of ethnic studies as a pathway for mitigating cultural tensions and contradictions that emerge in becoming a “college educated person” as well as assessment of ethnic studies implementation and student learning outcomes at the postsecondary level, including at community colleges and among White students at predominantly White institutions.

Friday Forums on Racism in Higher Education

Friday Forums on Racism in Higher Education

Friday Forums is a commitment to the state and region in elevating national conversations and showcasing models of disrupting complicit racism. Each session welcomes national thought leaders to lead discussions and provide opportunities for participants to share ideas on actionable items towards a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

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