Dr. Edgar F. Beckham- On Diversity & Community College Teaching

Dr. Edgar F. Beckham, Senior Fellow & Consultant
Office of Diversity, Equity, & Global Initiatives
Association of American Colleges and Universities
Washington, D.C.

Friday, April 9, 2004
1:00pm - 4:00pm
 Center for Innovative Technology
2214 Rock Hill Road
Herndon, Virginia 20170

Seminar Overview

Dr. Beckham states that  "educational institutions, and classrooms in particular, are the most important  venues for using diversity as an educational resource.  While social justice is diversity's boldest and grandest intention, its greatest utility is its role in teaching and learning."

With the changing face of American College classrooms, now is the optimal opportunity for educators to use diversity as a catalyst for critical thinking, civic engagement, and global understanding.  This, in turn, educates students "for a world lived in common with others."

In this seminar, Dr. Beckham will outline the important role colleges and classrooms can play in using diversity to enhance learning.  During the second part of the seminar Beckham will facilitate an interactive session in which participants will align diversity concepts with practice, and generate instructional techniques for incorporating diversity concepts into classroom instruction.

Biographical Sketch of Edgar F. Beckham

Edgar F. Beckham is Senior Fellow at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, where he consults with staff of the Association and with individual colleges and universities on campus diversity and its relationship to liberal education, civic engagement, and the pursuit of educational excellence.  He is also Scholar in Residence at Miami University's Center for American and World Cultures. From 1990 to 1998 Beckham coordinated the Ford Foundation's Campus Diversity Initiative, which provided more than $20 million in support of campus diversity activities at colleges and universities across the country. He also coordinated the planning of three international seminars on campus diversity in India, South Africa, and the United States, and wrote and edited materials for the three volumes of essays based on the seminars. He has lectured extensively in the United States and India on campus diversity and democracy.

Beckham graduated from Wesleyan University in 1958.  He received an MA in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Yale in 1959, and completed his doctoral course work in 1961.  He has received honorary doctorates from Olivet College and Clark University. In 1997 he received the Outstanding Contribution to Higher Education Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Beckham began his academic career at Wesleyan University as Instructor of German in 1961.  He spent 28 of the next 29 years at Wesleyan, serving in various posts, including Lecturer in German, Director of the Language Laboratory, Associate Provost, and from 1973-1990, Dean of the College.  In addition to courses in German language and literature, Beckham taught Freshman Humanities and courses in African-American Studies at Wesleyan.  His administrative responsibilities as Dean included student services, faculty advising, foreign study programs, and public safety. He spent academic year 1966-67 in Germany, where he taught English language and African-American history and literature at the University of Erlangen.  He also lectured extensively at America Houses throughout the Federal Republic of Germany on the state of civil rights and racial consciousness in the United States.

Beckham was Chairman of the Connecticut State Board of Education from December 1992 to March 1995.  He is Trustee Emeritus of Vermont Academy.  He currently chairs the Board of the Donna Wood Foundation and is a Trustee of Mt. Holyoke College, a member of the Board of NAFSA: the  Association of International Educators,
and a member of the Advisory Council of the Appalachian College Association.  In the past he has chaired the
Boards of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Middlesex Hospital, The Rockfall Foundation, The Connecticut
Humanities Council, and the Connecticut Housing Investment Fund.  He has also served on the Executive
Committee of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.


Assigned Readings

Beckham, Edgar F. (2002). Diversity at the crossroads:  Mapping our work in the years ahead. (Online) Presented at AACU's Conference on Diversity and Learning: Education for a World Lived in Common.

National poll reveals strong public support for diversity in higher education. (Online)

Schneider, Carol and Lee Knefelkamp. (n.d.) "Education for a world lived in common with others." In Robert Orrill, (executive editor), Education and Democracy:  Re-imagining Liberal Learning in America.  New York:  The College Board.
Book can be purchased from The College Board or Amazon.com Price: $22.95.

Other Readings With Links

Association of American Colleges and Universities, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives.

Bernstein, Lisa. (2001). Student perceptions and college quality: New survey provides alternative measurement and examines role of diversity in learning. Online.

Carnevale, Anthony P. (1999).  Diversity in higher education: Why corporate America cares. Online.

Coia, Lesley & Julia Barchitta. (2000). Engaging with the world: Diversity in the practical liberal arts at Wagner College. Online.

Davis, Barbara Gross. (1993). Diversity and complexity in the classroom:  Considerations of race, ethnicity, and gender. In Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.  Online.

Diversity Web: An Interactive Resource Hub for Higher Education. Online.

Gurin, Patricia. (1999). New research on the benefits of diversity in college and beyond: An empirical analysis. Online.  

Knefelkamp, Lee & Timothy David-Lang. (2000). Encountering diversity on campus and in the classroom: Advancing intellectual and ethical development. Online.

New research on faculty attitudes on the benefits of diverse learning environments. (2000). Online.

The impact of campus diversity on student life:  New research from the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators. Online.

Tozzi, Barbara.  (n.d.) Diversity topics in the developmental math curriculum. (Online).

Who benefits from racial diversity in higher education? (1997). Online: