Chris Njunge, assistant professor of organizational behavior and leadership at California Lutheran University is set to host the first-ever Diversity Conference Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Ahmanson Science Center in Richter Hall 100.
Njunge said the event aims to bring together the Cal Lutheran community and spark a conversation on the importance of global innovation and diversity.
Hugh Molotsi, known for his book “The Intrapreneur’s Journey: Empowering Employees to Drive Growth” as well as being the CEO and founder of Ujama, a mobile application for parents to exchange childcare, will be a featured speaker at the conference. Molotsi’s will cover topics of global diversity.
Njunge said the Diversity Conference has already been gifted the grant from the Community Leaders Association for next year, and he plans to continue the conference for as long as possible.
“I feel like it would be great if we could start some kind of movement within CLU. One where we could establish some culture of innovation process, that would be a great outcome, and I feel like growth, development, and cohesiveness doesn’t happen without change,” Njunge said.
The conference started with Njunge’s ambition and dream of creating a place where people can learn about change, how to accept it and how to be proactive about it, he said.
After applying for the faculty grant from the Community Leaders Association on the Cal Lutheran campus, Njunge was awarded a $2,500 grant to host the conference based on his vision of creating a place in which people of all backgrounds and roles on the Cal Lutheran campus can attend to learn about diversity.
“We are in an increasingly diverse and connected world, and I feel like CLU is at a place where innovation is becoming important. We’re growing, and it’s timely,” Njunge said.
Cal Lutheran is already focusing on becoming a more diverse community and campus through issuing a statement about service and leadership.
According to the Cal Lutheran website, the university’s mission is to educate leaders for a global society committed to service and justice.
In this process, Cal Lutheran has become a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, as well as becoming a designated Hispanic Serving Institution, which means that at least 25% of full-time undergraduate students are Latino.
“If we are declaring that this is who we are, I feel like part of it is carrying out actions and reaching out to people and listening to them,” Njunge said.
Njunge said he hopes this is not an event people come to just to sit and listen, but that there is some level of engagement, or the conversations begin to help the community grow.
“I would definitely like to see a diverse group of people come to the event, including students, staff, and faculty. People of different roles, ages and all kinds of diversity to be represented,” Njunge said.
Cal Lutheran junior Lindy Hendrickson said even though Cal Lutheran is already a diverse campus, it can improve.
“Maybe if they did more activities to celebrate more cultures, genders, and identities, not only to show respect for those individuals but to also introduce other people to them and build a greater sense of campus community. I’d definitely go to the diversity conference,” Hendrickson said.
Senior Brian Schlosser said although cost of attendance creates a barrier to a more diverse student body, he thinks they do a good job of promoting diversity not only for people of different ethnicities, but also sexuality and gender.
“I think it’s a good thing when institutions like colleges try to create things for students to get a better grasp on diversity,” Schlosser said.
Njunge said he thinks it is important to create spaces where people can have an open discussion for all members of the community.
“So for me, I feel like this is me doing my part and giving voice to those who can’t,” Njunge said.