Michigan State freshman student-athletes were treated to a presentation from Dr. Derek Greenfield on Thursday night at the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center. The presentation was sponsored by RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality), and is part of the leadership programming provided for Spartan student-athletes.
More than 175 first-year student-athletes participated in Thursday's inaugural event as part of the Michigan State Athletics Student-Athlete Engagement program. The event is the first step in a four-year Diversity and Leadership program featuring multiple leadership training topics with practical applications, which will serve student-athletes both during their time at MSU and beyond. MSU is one of just four Power 5 Conference schools implementing the RISE training and curriculum.
"We have a vision for Diversity and Leadership programming that takes, what we believe, is a new approach to training student-athletes to lead," said Elliott Daniels, Michigan State Associate AD for Student-Athlete Engagement. "RISE provides us many of the tools for staff to be fully engaged in delivering tomorrow's leaders. Our department looks forward to our continued work with RISE as we look to equip our student-athletes now and for the future."
Dr. Greenfield is a visionary speaker, consultant, and thought leader dedicated to inclusive excellence and positive change. Prior to his full-time speaking career, Dr. Greenfield spent over 20 years as a dedicated and talented college professor and administrator. He most recently served in the chief diversity officer role at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi. Under his leadership, Alcorn became the only HBCU and only school in Mississippi to receive the prestigious Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award twice from Insight Into Diversity magazine and was named the "leader" among HBCUs for diversity in a Huffington Post feature article.
"Athletes obviously have a tremendous impact on the culture of an institution," said Greenfield. "Certainly at Michigan State, how productive and successful teams have been, that really does create energy for what the institution is all about. For athletes to say we stand up and we rise up against discrimination and inequality has a powerful impact on others and really helps to shape institutionally and culturally who we are and what we are about. I'm so excited to partner with RISE and Michigan State to be a part of kicking off this exciting initiative. The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality is committed to saying that sports can be a vehicle in a positive way to build healthier race relations. So I'm just excited to talk about inclusive excellence -- that when people get to be who they are, and they feel valued and welcomed and included, that they perform better and that everybody's better in the end, both in the classroom, on the field and in life. So the message is building a positive community where everybody knows they can be, who they are, and as a result, we are all better."
In February 2017, Michigan State athletics and RISE formalized a partnership to RISE's education programs to Spartan student-athletes and coaches. RISE is an unprecedented alliance of professional sports leagues, organizations, athletes, educators, media networks and sports professionals using sports to bring people together to promote understanding, respect and equality. Through public awareness campaigns and educational programming, RISE aims to improve race relations.
Founded in 2015 by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, RISE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.
For more information about RISE, visit www.risetowin.org.