Texas Tech University

Rawls College Hosts the 2016 Diversity Symposium

November 18, 2016

The Rawls College of Business recently hosted the 2016 Diversity Symposium with the mission of spreading knowledge and understanding about the view point of fellow students and coworkers with different cultural, religious, ethnic, gender and/or environmental backgrounds. The symposium included a panel discussion by current Rawls College students, a panel by faculty members across campus, a lecture from Larry Patrick and a "Color Brave" event hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Keynote Speaker: Larry E. Patrick

LarryPatrickLarry is a partner in the healthcare advisory practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers based in Atlanta, Georgia. Since joining PwC in 1998, Larry has held a number of positions with increasing responsibility. Currently, Larry's practice focuses on providing management consulting services to large integrated health systems. He has experience across a broad range of disciplines, including ambulatory operations, shared services, strategic planning, performance improvement, service line analysis, decision support, change management, project management, corporate finance and capital. Larry has led the enterprise-wide transformation of several large health systems in the U.S. focused on operational, process and financial improvement across supply chain, revenue cycle, clinical operations, and Centers of Excellence.

Education and Professional Affiliations:

  • MBA, Finance, The University of Texas at Austin
  • B.S., Economics, Auburn University
  • Advisory Board and Executive Committee – Shepherd Center
  • Board Member and Assistant Treasurer – The Center for the Visually Impaired
  • Advisory Board – Georgia State School of Health Administration
  • Advisory Board – The Men's Health Center at St. Joseph's
  • City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed - Search Committee for Chief Financial Officer
  • Leadership Atlanta Class of 2010
  • Midtown Leadership Class of 2003

For his presentation during the Diversity Symposium, Patrick discussed the meaning of diversity and inclusion, relating them to his personal experiences. For example, Patrick talked about a time that he was an Uber passenger and, without realizing he was African American, the driver began verbally abusing people of color. Instead of getting angry in this instance or other times he felt discriminated against, he simply let people express themselves. Patrick knows that prejudices exist in people's minds. His goal is to spread awareness about those thoughts to encourage everyone acknowledge them. Only by acknowledging internal prejudices can we actively work to overcome them.

"Mr. Patrick reminded me that diversity doesn't simply mean people are different gender or races - being diverse also refers to the different ways that people think and behave. That's something we should all be conscious of," accounting major, Juan Duran, said.

Student Panel

Student Panel
(L to R) Noah Hearn, Mikaela Mitcham, Sydney Thomas, Eiman Osseilan, Paul Feyisetan, Steven Shedd, Veronica Araiza

As part of the Rawls College's 2016 Diversity Symposium, a student panel was put together to discuss the challenges associated with being in a minority group as a college student. Students on the panel represented different groups, such as a LGBTQ community, the African American population and the Muslim community at Texas Tech and beyond. The purpose of the panel was to expose others to the perspectives of classmates from different backgrounds. Members of the panel included Veronica Araiza, Paul Feyisetan, Noah Hearn, Mikaela Mitcham, Eiman Osseilan, Steven Shedd and Sydney Thomas. Learn what some of the student panel members had to say about the experience below.

Mikaela MitchumMikaela Mitchum (senior, management):

"I thought the panel was a wonderful opportunity for minorities to have a platform to voice their concerns and share their feelings on the current state of diversity at Tech. All the dialogue was very constructive, and I truly hope all those who attended were able to leave with a higher form of understanding and compassion. I also genuinely hope everyone who attended, regardless of if they agree or not, was able to consider what was being said and further draw their own informed opinions from the conversation."

Noah HearnNoah Hearn (senior, dual general business and international economics):

"I think the Symposium showcased something great: we, as students, have the ability to come together to discuss heavy and, at times, controversial issues in a civil and respectful manner. That says a lot about Texas Tech and the culture of inclusiveness the administration is trying to foster. That being said, I am so proud of Texas Tech and the Rawls College of Business for hosting the 2nd Annual Rawls Diversity Symposium. I was honored to serve as a student panelist and engage in some tough conversations. The best way we can tackle adversity is head on, and I think this event exemplified that principle. It's my hope that everyone who attended will feel empowered to face adversity when they encounter it in their daily lives. I also hope that the event might have in some way reinforced their ability to remain sympathetic to others. Above all else, I want all who attended to know that there are no acceptable limits in today's society, so we need to go forward and break every barrier. That's what I believe, and it's exactly what I hope they go forward and do."

PWC Color Brave

Color Brave

In addition to Larry Patrick's lecture and the student diversity panel, Rawls students were invited to participate in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Color Brave event. Representatives from various PwC locations flew to Lubbock to contribute to the success and impact of the event. After hearing from Larry Patrick, students were divided into groups and paired with a PwC employee. In these groups, students and industry workers were able to have candid conversations about race diversity to help better understand each other's perspectives. The event focused on promoting four key actions that foster acceptance and understanding; those actions are to be self-aware, be curious, be bold and be forgiving.

"The event had a huge impact on how I view other people's perspectives on certain topics. I have been guilty in the past of dismissing someone's views because they do not line up with mine; however, Color Brave really opened my eyes to see that everyone has a reason for their views. Everyone's story is unique and no one should be dismissed for their views. I also learned diversity and inclusion take more than just a conscious thought. It takes work to change your subconscious thought. I have started to pay attention to when I walk into a room or organization meeting at how many people from different backgrounds are in the room," accounting and finance major, Llewellyn Harkness, said.

PWC Group

Special thanks to all PwC representatives that participated in the event, including:

  • Wade Beal, Talent Acquisition
  • Maria Collman, Partner
  • Jared Fitzpatrick, Senior Associate
  • Craig Friou, Partner
  • Allon Hall, Talent Acquisition
  • Bree Houghton, Manager
  • Jeanne Jones, Market HR Leader
  • Amy Kraft, Market Sourcing Leader
  • Sarah Lichtenauer, Manager
  • LeAnn Lindemann, Market Sourcing Leader
  • Siny Mathew, Talent Acquisition
  • Sammy Miller, Senior Manager
  • Larry Patrick, Partner
  • Kristi Rowland, Manager
  • Amy Thompson, Market HR Leader
  • Rachel Von Gonten, Talent Acquisition
  • Robert Welsh, Partner
  • Carly Williams, Diversity Talent Acquisition Leader
  • Paige Wills, Talent Acquisition
  • George Simon, Senior Manager

Faculty Panel

Faculty Panel
(L to R) Kathryn Goebel, Linda Donahue, Ron Milam

In addition to the student panel and Color Brave event, the Rawls College hosted a plenary session featuring two faculty members and a representative from Legal Aid of Northwest Texas on a panel. The purpose of the discussion was to address diversity in colleges and universities, as well as other industries. The panelists used experiences in their different fields to express the importance of diversity, acceptance and understanding among employees in every industry. Thank you to the panelists who participated:

  • Kathryn Goebel - Attorney for Legal Aid of Northwest Texas
  • Dr. Linda Donahue - Associate Chair and Associate Professor, School of Theatre and Dance, Texas Tech University
  • Dr. Ron Milam - Associate Professor, Department of History, Texas Tech University

To view more photos from the 2016 Diversity Symposium, please visit the Rawls College's Flickr account.

This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.