MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - -The Western Illinois University Educational Leadership Organizational Justice, Equity & Inclusion (OJEI) doctoral program welcomes 25 new students this Fall. The incoming cohort includes students from nine different countries.
According to WIU OJEI Program founders and coordinators Tracy Davis and Stu Yager, the multinational and multicultural group also represents a range of social identities crucial for the quality of any educational experience where equity and inclusion are central. The incoming cohort joins 31 students in their third and fourth years of the program. The inaugural cohort is similarly diverse, and the OJEI program now comprises students from 15 countries, including China, Grenada, St. Lucia, Ireland, India, Ghana, Antigua, Cape Coast, St. Kitts, Canada, St. Lucia, Senegal, Nevis, Jamaica and Dominica.
The program benefits not only from the scholars’ multicultural lived experiences, but also from the rich leadership backgrounds of many students like Lakisha Grant, Grenada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and South Africa. There are also educational leaders, business owners, teachers, public officials, hospital administrators, attorneys and law enforcement professionals.
“The OJEI doctoral track of the Educational Leadership Program at WIU has brought together a community of learners in a knowledge climate that has been one of the most meaningful and intellectually stimulating experiences I have had in my many years as a student and professional,” Grant said.
Another example of the kind of talented leaders in the program is Macy Ferguson-Smith, who was recently selected as one of the 100 people from around the world to participate in the Obama Foundation's Leaders program.
"The EDL program at WIU has equipped me with the tools to disrupt, advocate and lead with social justice in mind,” Ferguson-Smith said. “I am a better spouse, therapist and community member because of the discussions and materials from class. Our cohort has committed to being more than individuals who get together outside of class a few times and instead, become a true network of future leaders who I can rely on when I need perspective or guidance."
The OJEI program hosts WIU employees and leaders aiming to improve their educational institution, community, business, non-profit agency or organization. The doctoral course of study and research components are utilized as powerful tools for organizational effectiveness. The program's mission is to prepare transformational leaders who cultivate exemplary learning organizations. Livestream video conferencing is used for the classes, which are offered through an executive weekend academy model to ensure accessibility.