Fireside Chat: Institutions must prepare students to be globally minded

Tia Brown McNair, center, was the guest speaker for President Philomena V. Mantella's Fireside Chat.
Tia Brown McNair, center, was the guest speaker for President Philomena V. Mantella's Fireside Chat.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

President Philomena V. Mantella’s Fireside Chat series returned on September 14, welcoming this semester’s first speaker, Tia Brown McNair, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Student Success at the American Association of Colleges and Universities. 

“It’s so great to have the Fireside Chat back and to be talking about our present and future together and the way we think about learning,” Mantella said.

Mantella was joined by Fatma Mili, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, for the discussion at the Alumni House, building off McNair’s first appearance at Grand Valley in late August. McNair was the keynote speaker at the Fall Conference on Teaching and Learning

At both appearances, McNair elaborated about topics in her book, “Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success.” On Wednesday, McNair focused more on the strategic steps for leadership in becoming student ready.

President Philomena V. Mantella asks a question during the Fireside Chat
President Philomena V. Mantella, right, asks a question to Tia Brown McNair during the Fireside Chat on September 14.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills
Audience members listen to Fireside Chat discussion.
Audience members listen during the Fireside Chat discussion at the Alumni House.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

“My colleagues, who co-authored this book, and I had no idea that it was going to resonate the way that it has with so many educators across the country,” McNair said.

Fielding a question from the discussion’s livestream broadcast, Mantella asked McNair for her insights from her work helping to prepare students to be globally minded citizens.

“We believe the way to do that is to provide students with the skill sets and competencies, that no matter the issue they will be able to tackle it in different ways,” McNair said. “They should be able to look at an issue from the liberal arts perspective, from STEM, from the humanities perspective. If we don’t, then we have a very limited view of what the world could be and what it should be.”

Mantella added while preparing students to think with a global perspective is important, Grand Valley needs to consider the local connections students make following their graduation. 

“There is such an interest in keeping students in our region and keeping them as vital citizens,” Mantella said.

Mili said that she was fascinated by McNair’s book and the importance it placed on being student ready across the entire institution from administration to faculty to staff. 

“We all have a responsibility in this work. If we do not think about intentional,  collaborative partnerships, then we will not become more student ready so that we achieve and reach our shared goals,” McNair said.


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