CORVALLIS - Gender, race, religion and disabilities are among some of the key issues that will be the focus of a special Diversity Summit at Oregon State University Feb. 22-23.

"We have attracted nine nationally and internationally prominent speakers, scholars, activists, and teachers to address a variety of issues at the summit," said Larry Roper, OSU vice provost for Student Affairs.

The summit is funded through the W.K. Kellogg Leadership for Institutional Change Initiative.

"The primary goal of the OSU project is to address critical issues," Roper said. "Among the most critical issues facing us is developing a coherent institutional approach to leading an institution where diversity is an explicit value in the mission.

"The major goal of the summit," he added, "is to enrich our learning in a way that allows us to transform our leadership and develop models that reflect best practices."

The programs are free and open to the public, but registration is required. For more information, or to register, call 541-737-5349. Information is also available on the World Wide Web.

Accommodations are available for people with disabilities. For information, call 541-737-4098 by Feb.13.

The first day of the summit will consist of nine concurrent daylong workshops. The second day will include morning and afternoon sessions, as well as cultural arts and meals.

Among the speakers are Simi Linton, author of "Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity." Linton, who is co-director of the Disability Studies Project at Hunter College in New York, will present a session called "Reframing Disability: The Role of the Media."

Linton will devote part of her session to a discussion of specific ways to reshape the presentation of disability and disabled people in various media, cultural products and in the academic realm, said Tracy Bentley-Townlin, OSU director of Disability Services.

Speaking on religious issues will be Rabbi Larry J. Halpern, who was ordained in 1967 and has served as outreach and marketing director of the Jewish Federation of Portland. He has also recently served as area director of the American Jewish Committee.

Ronni Sanlo, director of the UCLA Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Campus Resource Center will focus on sexuality and different lifestyles, while Brian Jones, a Los Angeles actor and activist, will address issues of class and society.

Arturo Madrid, who is the Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, will address the changes taking place in the Latino community and Joseph L. White, professor emeritus of psychology and psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine, will focus on African-American issues.

James Banning, a professor in the School of Education at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, will address gender topics.

Evelyn Hu-DeHart, a professor of history and chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder will discuss Asian Pacific American issues. She directs the university's Center for Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America.

Jack D. Forbes, professor and former chair of Native American Studies at the University of California at Davis, will focus on Native American life and history.

"There is much symbolic about the notion of a summit," Roper said. "A summit can represent a peak experience for our community. It can also symbolize the high point in our interactions, communication, and relationships with each other. Our aspirations are to achieve all those dynamics."

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Larry Roper, 541-737-3626