On February 13-14, 2018, we came together as a community to reflect upon our shared values and how we can build an even stronger commitment to diversity and inclusion. We asked how can we open our hearts and minds even further to one another, bridge the gaps that still on occasion divide us, and lend support to those among us who may feel disenfranchised or unsure about where they fit in.

Each year we come together with hope; and each year we find ourselves asking many of the same questions. Particularly in today’s political climate, our nation seems at times irreconcilably divided. The lack of progress can be frustrating. We may think, “Why bother?” We might even feel like throwing up our hands and walking away. But this is too important, which is why we’ve got to stay strong; we’ve got to find a way. “

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton


Please select the titles to watch videos from each session.

Tuesday, February 13

“The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience”

Keynote address by Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist and a narrative nonfiction writer.

The event began on the Medical School Campus with opening remarks from Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton and an introduction from David H. Perlmutter, MD, Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs.

The opening program set the stage for our dialogue, with insight and inspiration from Meg Jay, who focuses her research and practice on understanding resilience and the ways people, particularly young adults, cope—and even thrive—amid adversity. Her latest book, Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience, explores the secret, inner world of those who are resilient.

A Conversation and Q&A

A dialogue followed, moderated by Will Ross, Associate Dean for Diversity and Professor of Medicine in the School of Medicine and featuring Kara Sternhell-Blackwell, MD, Associate Professor of Dermatology, School of Medicine, Dayana Hernandez Calderon, First-Year Medical Student, Reuben Hogan, Class of 2018, Chemistry and Anthropology in Arts & Sciences.


Wednesday, February 14

After a welcome from Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton; Mary M. McKay, Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean and Lori S. White, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the event continued on the Danforth Campus with a behind-the-scenes look at an innovative project that aims to amplify the voices of the people of St. Louis, one photo and story at a time.

Humans of St. Louis

Lindy Drew, Co-Founder of Humans of St. Louis moderated Wednesday’s opening session featuring Humans of St. Louis (HOSTL), a project that has shared over 1,600 stories, inspired more than 94,000 followers, sparked dialogue, facilitated civic engagement, and connected viewers to local needs, causes and volunteer opportunities.

Plenary Session I: Revisiting the Ferguson Commission Report’s Call to Action—Youth at the Center

With an introduction by Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, and moderated by Rose Windmiller, Associate Vice Chancellor, Government & Community Relations, the first plenary session featured Kelvin R. Adams, Superintendent, Saint Louis Public Schools; Joseph Davis, Superintendent, Ferguson-Florissant School District; and Karen I. Hall, Superintendent, Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.

One of the key organizing themes of the Ferguson Commission report was to advance equity by focusing on St. Louis area youth. The panel brought together Ferguson commissioners and area superintendents to discuss ways in which the findings from the commission have inspired change and the challenges these practitioners and community leaders face in advancing racial equity.

Plenary Session II: The Role of Washington University in Advancing the Ferguson Commission

The second session was again introduced by Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, and this time moderated by Provost Holden Thorp, and featured Sheretta Butler-Barnes, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Brown School; Dedric Carter, Vice Chancellor for Operations & Technology Transfer and Professor of Engineering Practice; Julia Ho, Founder, Solidarity Economy St. Louis; and Olivia Marcucci, Doctoral Student, Department of Education; Karen Tokarz, the Charles Nagel Professor of Public Interest Law.

Faculty, staff, alumni, and students have played important roles in advancing the recommendations of the Ferguson Commission. This panel brought together key university leaders to provide examples of current and future work that can inspire change and advance racial equity in our region.

Plenary Session III: Diversity and Inclusion Report Presentation

Denise DeCou, Director, Diversity and Inclusion/Content Development and Program Delivery, provided the introduction for the third session, which was facilitated by Adrienne Davis, Vice Provost and  William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law.

Concurrently on the Medical Campus, Timothy J. Bono from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, highlighted the latest psychological research on the topic and included a discussion on resilience as a life skill, misconceptions about self-esteem, and practical strategies for rebounding from adversity.

Closing Reflection and Charge

The day concluded with a reflection facilitated by Lori S. White, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Professor of Practice of Education


Engagement Sessions

Attendees chose from a number of afternoon engagement sessions.

Session I

The Environment of Change; Mattering and Its Impact on Black Males
Facilitated by Kyle  Williams, Assistant Director of Student Conduct

Demo: WU Online Diversity Module
Facilitated by Diana Hill Mitchell, Associate Dean of the Graduate School

Sustaining Activism through Community
Facilitated by Ashley Kuykendall, MSW & MPH Candidate

Still Standing: Grit, Perseverance, and Resilience at Washington University
Facilitated by Hope Young, Program Coordinator for Diverse Communities in Campus Life, and Travis Tucker, Assistant Director for Leadership and LGBTQIA Involvement

Session II

Practicing Resilience, Moment by Moment
Facilitated by Heather Rice, Assistant Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Jordan Worthington, MSW Candidate

Fostering a Growth Mindset to Support Students’ Sense of Belonging and Persistence
Facilitated by Beth Fisher, Director of Academic Services, and Julia Johnson, Assistant Director of Academic Services

Defiance: Resilient Women of ColorFacilitated by Shruti Desai, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at McKendree University

Tools for Seeing and Unpacking Power and Privilege: Deconstructing Systems
Facilitated by Peter Hovmand, Professor of Practice, Social Work


WashU Letters of Love and Courage

Throughout the day, members of the university community were invited to offer support and encouragement to others in the St. Louis community by writing a “Letter of Love and Courage.”

The letters were delivered to nonprofit organizations that work closely with people who may appreciate a short and thoughtful letter about courage, love, and gratitude. We plan to partner with organizations that support veterans, LGBTQIA youth, religious minorities, and other individuals who may be experiencing hardship in their lives.

Staff Passport Program

The new Staff Passport Program was introduced at the event. Designed to align with faculty and student programs already in place, this program offers recognition and rewards to staff for participation in diversity and inclusion offerings, including the Day of Discovery & Dialogue.

If you participate in eight program offerings, you will earn a Diversity & Inclusion Certificate of Participation. Other offerings include, but are not limited to, diversity trainings or workshops, diversity initiatives delivered on the university campuses, and other Diversity & Inclusion events.