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Dr. Harper talks Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Dr. Harper talks Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) recently hosted a public lecturer by Dr. Andre Harper (Fulbright Specialist) themed “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access: Successes and Challenges – A BIUST Perspective on the June 18, 2024.

This session, which is a collaboration between BIUST and the US embassy through the Fulbright Specialist Program shed light on BIUST’s strides in creating an inclusive environment for staff, students, and faculty, in keeping with its core values.

Dr. Andre Harper is a university lecturer and a Fulbright Specialist at Tufts University, an international executive coach, and a published author dedicated to fostering diversity in academic and professional settings, guiding students and top tier professionals driven by a desire to make an impact.

In his opening remarks, the BIUST Vice Chancellor Professor Otlogetswe Totolo mentioned that BIUST’s core institutional values foster an inclusive environment that embraces diversity, equity, and accessibility. Prof Tototolo underscored the significant strides made in enhancing accessibility for students with special needs across various campus facilities, following the 2023-2028 Strategic plan, which emphasizes student centricity.

Furthermore, the Vice Chancellor elaborated BIUST’s commitment to prioritizing equitable access to education. Additionally, he highlighted the University’s participation in international rankings, positioning this project as an opportunity to showcase both the university’s successes and the challenges it faces in its ongoing effort to cultivate a truly inclusive campus environment and culture.

Director Academic Services and Project Lead Mr. Donah Lekwati, offered valuable insights into the Fulbright Specialist Project. He highlighted the importance of individual reflection on the meaning of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEIA) within everyone’s context. “I hope everyone will be more aware of the role DEIA plays in driving organizational performance and student success and take the challenge to integrate DEIA into their own context” Mr Lekwati said.

Dr. Andre Harper outlined the objectives of this project and delivered a comprehensive overview of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility. He presented both successes and challenges faced by BIUST in its ongoing efforts to cultivate an inclusive environment. This analysis incorporated the perspectives of internal and external stakeholders, highlighting BIUST’s commitment to accommodating the needs of all individuals, including those with disabilities or learning difficulties. Dr Harper further enriched the discussion by presenting data from student, staff and faculty surveys, alongside specific recommendations from various individuals. He concluded his presentation by expressing his appreciation for the opportunity to visit Botswana.

In his concluding address the Deputy Vice Chancellor  Teaching and Learning, Professor Elisha Shemang, expressed his sincere appreciation to Dr. Andre Harper for selecting BIUST to host his Fulbright Specialist Project in Africa. He further acknowledged the contributions of all stakeholders who participated in ensuring the project’s success. Finally, Prof Shemang emphasized that this groundbreaking project serves as a testament to BIUST’s commitment to internalization.