Michael Benitez Jr. to kick off Equity and Inclusion Forum with speech Oct. 15
Michael Benitez Jr., a national speaker on inter-cultural communication with extensive experience in education and diversity issues, will speak from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Wilson Library Reading Room on the Western Washington University campus.
Benitez, the chief diversity officer and dean of diversity and inclusion at the University of Puget Sound, has served higher education in different capacities for the last 15 years, including in academic affairs, student affairs, diversity and inclusion and teaching.
The Oct. 15 event will serve as a kickoff for the new WWU Campus Equity and Inclusion Forum. The Forum offers a training series for WWU faculty and staff to empower them to better understand and thoughtfully engage with the experiences and identities of all of Western's community members.
Benitez is co-editor of the anthology "Crash Course: Reflections on the Film 'Crash' for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power and Privilege," a collection of essays by some of the country’s most prominent anti-racism writers, scholars and activists. He has contributed to "Being Latino On-Line Magazine" (2009), the "American Mosaic Online Database" (2012), "Culture Centers in Higher Education: Perspectives on Identity, Theory, and Practice" (2010), "Rebel Music: Resistance through Hip Hop and Punk" (2015) and has been featured in several educational documentaries, including "Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity" (2012).
He completed his bachelor's and master's degrees at Penn State University, where he also worked with and helped revive and strengthen the university’s College Assistance Migrant Program. As director of diversity initiatives and social justice at Dickinson College, he established the “Diversity Monologues,” an ongoing annual program aimed at highlighting the creative talents of students while addressing diversity and social justice, a program he has helped implement and shape at multiple institutions. In previous roles, Benitez has served as director of intercultural development and the Black Cultural Center at Lafayette College, as adjunct faculty in the Graduate School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University, and as director of intercultural engagement and leadership at Grinnell College.