Dr. Terrell Strayhorn Discusses Promising Practices for Belonging at Annual Symposium

Dr. Terrell Strayhorn speaks at annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence at LVC

Lebanon Valley College hosted its eleventh annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence, Creating Belonging: A Call to Action. The event featured a keynote address from Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, a leading authority in the fields of education, psychology, and leadership, internationally known for his ground-breaking research and scholarship on the sense of belonging.

Named one of the country’s “Top Diversity Scholars” by Diverse Issues in Higher Education and a remarkable “Bridge-Builder” between academic- and student affairs by one of ACPA’s commissions, Strayhorn has authored 12 books, including the award-winning College Students’ Sense of Belonging (2nd ed, 2019), and over 200+ peer-reviewed journal articles and academic publications.

Strayhorn currently serves as Professor of Education and Psychology at Virginia Union University, where he also works as Director in the Center for the Study of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Associate Provost for Faculty Development, and Principal Investigator of The Belonging Lab.

In his keynote address, Strayhorn shared insights from research, practice, and personal experience for student success and sense of belonging. He explained that while belonging is a fundamental need, it doesn’t happen automatically.

He stressed the importance of facilitating “purposeful engagement between faculty and students” and that diversity is something we must “actively create and pursue.”

“What we really want, for our students and ourselves, is a community where we feel connected and supported. Student success in college depends, in part, on your social involvement. What happens in the co-curricular drives performance in the curricular.”

During Q&A, a student asked Strayhorn how to build belonging within yourself, to which he had the audience reply with the following mantras: “I matter. I am enough. I belong here.”

The afternoon of the Symposium featured interactive simulations, dialogues, and educational sessions based around belonging. Strayhorn hosted one of the sessions, focusing on creating belonging through our policies, practices, programs, and more. An interactive Privilege Journey workshop encouraged participants to recognize how power and privilege can affect a person’s life by reacting to scenarios simulating various examples of privilege.

Additional topics LVC students, faculty, and staff covered included the biology of belonging, blackface minstrelsy and identity formation in the United States, migrant education, equity vs. equality, and more.

This year’s Symposium followed a kick-off social justice lecture by Rev. Dr. Bernice King in September. Related discussions will continue throughout the spring semester with a monthly panel series called “On Belonging.”

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