'The People's Scholar' to address diversity in community talk

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Photo of Dr. Boyce .


KALAMAZOO--One of the leading social commentators, black speakers and high-action freedom fighters in America will speak on "Diversity is More Than Skin Deep" during Kalamazoo County's 14th annual Respecting Differences program Tuesday and Wednesday, April 17-18.

Dr. Boyce Watkins, known as "The People's Scholar," will present his perspective on diversity at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, and again at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 18, in the Kalamazoo Public Schools' Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave.

His talk is being offered free of charge to the public as well as to employees of the agencies that are sponsoring the 2012 Respecting Differences program. It is being presented on a first-come, first-seated basis. Both sessions will include on-stage American Sign Language translators.

During the talk, Watkins will explore the relevance and impact of various aspects of diversity as they relate to the workplace and world. This exploration will be done through the lens of his role as an advocate for education and social justice.

Watkins, a scholar in residence at Syracuse University, is a finance expert who has written several books and numerous journal articles. He has been a distinguished visiting scholar at institutions around the world, including the prestigious Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, The Center for European Economic Research, and Carnegie-Mellon University.

In demand as a speaker and commentator, Watkins mixes financial theory with social commentary and down-to-earth socio-political thought. He has presented his views to millions of people through regular appearances on television shows aired by networks such as ABC, BET, CNBC, ESPN and MSNBC. He also has been profiled in dozens of print publications, including Black Enterprise, Essence, Forbes Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

Watkins earned a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Kentucky, triple majoring in finance, economics and business management; a Master of Science in Mathematical Statistics from UK; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Finance from The Ohio State University.

As an undergraduate, he was selected by the Wall Street Journal as the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Finance. Additionally, Watkins was the only African American in the world to earn a Ph.D. in Finance during 2002.

The annual Respecting Differences program began in 1999 as a collaboration between the city of Kalamazoo and WMU to heighten awareness of diversity issues in the workplace.

This year's event is being sponsored by six area employers. In addition to Kalamazoo and WMU, they are the city of Portage, Kalamazoo County, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The program also is being supported by the Kalamazoo Human Resources Management Association.

For more information about the 2012 Respecting Differences program, visit wmich.edu/hr/development/differences. Direct questions to Portage's Rob Boulis at boulisr@portagemi.gov or (269) 324-9228 or Kalamazoo's Erica Hicks at hickse@kalamazoocity.org or (269) 337-8470.