Since 1999, the World Maritime University (WMU) International Day has been an annual event that continued to be a highlight of activities at WMU.
On 8 August, over 250 people gathered together at the Henrik Smith Residence for International Day 2015. Guests included WMU staff, host families, and friends and families of the students.
In the true spirit of the United Nations, ‘Celebration of Harmony & Diversity of Cultures’ was the theme for the day and the national dress, presentations, and food prepared reflected cultures from over 40 countries.
This was the first occasion for the new WMU President, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, to address the student body as a whole. She noted that with students from the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, that WMU is a “microcosm of diversity and culture which is one of the most enriching elements adding an exceptional dimension to the education experience, to learning and the building of tolerance and respect.”
She went on to thank the host families for opening their homes to the students and noted her own experiences during University when she lived with host families and in campus residences with people from a wide range of backgrounds. She remarked, “I am sure that you too will, at the end of the period of your post-graduate programme, return home enriched and energized from the cultural diversity that accompanied the educational journey.”
Aside from delicious foods from around the world, the event featured a parade of countries and included cultural presentations by representatives of China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.
The programme concluded with remarks by the current Student Council President, Lee Hyun from the Republic of Korea. She noted that diversity was the backbone of WMU’s strength stating, “Our diversity comes from different countries and culture, but our common heritage is human kind.”
Meanwhile, the United State Coast Guard Academy has announced Dr. Aram deKoven as the Academy’s Chief Diversity Officer.
In the Chief Diversity Officer role, deKoven will be charged with attracting and retaining highly talented and diverse cadets, faculty and staff, enhancing a performance-based inclusive environment, and developing culturally competent leaders.
The Academy must be capable of serving an ever-diverse nation and world by tying together academic excellence, mission readiness, and social diversity under the rubric of leadership development. Diversity competency is crucial to officer development because it calls upon an individual leader to balance perspectives, talents, and empathetic skills in a group in order to ensure operational success in the increasingly complex operational world the Coast Guard is being asked to manage and secure.
“I am confident that Dr. deKoven will be a valuable asset to the Academy’s senior leadership team,” said Rear Adm. James Rendon, Academy Superintendent. “His experience and perspective on diversity and inclusion provide an excellent foundation for cultivating officers who thrive on the richness a diverse workforce brings to the Coast Guard.”
DeKoven comes to the Academy from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he served as an associate professor in education studies. His work focuses on the progress that has been made in the United States in multicultural education, and what positive actions educators can take today to make school a more equitable and safe place. Through his years of experience, he has refined his ability to engage college learners where they are comfortable discussing the topic, proving a successful strategy for building diversity awareness.
DeKoven holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Cornell University, a master’s degree in education from Cornell University, a master’s degree in human resource management from Mercy College, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and music from the State University of New York, Oswego. DeKoven was recognized by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Office of Multicultural Affairs as an outstanding faculty member who consistently supports and mentors students of color and who advocates for, and creates initiatives and policies that benefit students of color. He was also nominated and recognized for the Multicultural Professor of the Year award at the State University of New York, Cortland in 2006.
“The hiring committee is very pleased with the results of our process after a comprehensive national search for the best candidate to fill this critical role at the Coast Guard Academy,” said Sharon Zelmanowitz, a senior faculty member who served on the hiring committee, which consisted of a cross section of Academy personnel. “Dr. deKoven brings an outstanding mix of academic credentials and practical experience in the field of diversity and inclusion that will contribute to continuing the Academy’s positive climate.”
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