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Taste of Diversity event gets UCOP into the spirit of community

“I’ve never been at a place where diversity in the workplace is so evident,” said Larry Pitts, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, addressing the nearly 200 UCOP employees who turned out in the Franklin Fifth Floor Garden on a sunny summer afternoon to celebrate A Taste of Diversity.

Featuring desserts and drinks, music, dancing and more, the event was designed to bring attention to OP’s affinity groups, staff organizations centered around members who have a common interest or activity they would like to share with others.

The atmosphere was joyous and light as people mixed and mingled, enjoyed strawberry shortcake sandwiches and other sugary treats, and visited tables set up by UCOP’s active affinity groups. Members shared information about their associations and discussed the rewards of getting together with work colleagues who share a common identity or interest.

Invoking the years he lived in Ethiopia and Ghana, EVP Nathan Brostrom said his own life and family have been immeasurably enriched by diversity, but that diversity is even more important in the workplace.

“Diversity fosters an environment where every person feels included and is treated in a respectful manner,” Brostrom added. He formed UCOP’s Climate Council in November 2010 to support these values throughout the organization and encourage the formation of more such staff groups.

Festivities included dancing by four tiny African American girls who call themselves “A Little Touch of Holy Boldness,” directed by UCOP’s own Joyce Price, administrative assistant in BRC. Dressed all in white and dancing their hearts out for the appreciative crowd, the girls come from Spiritual Movements of Arts Dance Ministry, founded by Price.

The event peaked at about 4 p.m. with a Salsa dance lesson taught by James Smith from Studio 18 in Sacramento. Smith had to coax a few shy participants away from their collegial conversations but in no time had a full class of men and women — including EVP Brostrom — moving to the Latin beat.

UCOP’s five active affinity groups were represented, including the Black Staff and Faculty Organization (BSFO), the Crafts Group, the Latino Staff Association, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Staff Association and the Project Management Interest Group.

Sherry Perocier of UCOP Human Resources distributed guidelines for any staff interested in starting up affinity groups of their own. Event organizers closed with a raffle and prize giveaways of gift cards from Jamba Juice and Peet’s Coffee.

A Taste of Diversity was cosponsored by the Provost’s Office, Human Resources and Office of the EVP for Budget Operations, in conjunction with the five affinity groups, the UCOP Climate Council and OP Staff Assembly. Special thanks go to Student Affairs Administrative Analyst and BSFO Co-chair Ghanya Thomas, who served as event organizer, and Student Affairs Senior Administrative Analyst and BSFO member Keith Stokes, who created flyers and posters for the event.

For anyone who missed the trivia quiz, distributed at the August Friday Breakfasts to publicize the event, here are the questions and answers (with correct answers shown in bold.):

1. What are the conditions for membership in the OP Staff Assembly?

Employment at OP

2. What is the 8th decimal of π?

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197 . . .

3. Which campus was first to offer a Chicano/Latino Studies program in the UC system?

UCSB, whose program was established in 1971; CSULA was the first in the nation, having established its program in 1968.

4. Who was the first Latino/a appointed as a UC chancellor?

Tomás Rivera was the first Latino chancellor in the UC system and served as UCR’s chancellor from 1979 to 1984, the year he died.

5. African American inventor Thomas J. Martin patented which invention in 1872?

  • Electric elevator
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Shoe making machine

6. Who was the first African American astronaut to walk in space?

  • Bernard Harris Jr. (He walked on Feb. 9, 1995.)
  • Mae Jemison
  • Alan Shepard

7. When did the UC Regents first approve health and welfare benefits for domestic partners?

  • 1985
  • 1997
  • 2003

8. Who designed the Rainbow Flag, symbol of LGBT pride, and in what year?

  • Gilbert Baker in 1978
  • Del Martin in 1975
  • Bayard Rustin in 1980

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