In their 26th annual career conference, members of the University’s Women of Color Task Force (WCTF) discussed how higher education could potentially factor into the state’s economic rebound.

The conference, which consisted of more than 50 professional development seminars, drew hundreds of University faculty, staff, students. The seminars were held in the Michigan League, Rackham Auditorium and the Modern Languages Building.

Along with discussing the economy and how it is affected by higher education, speakers at the seminars also promoted career development and personal growth for women of color at the University.

Kenya Ayers, who is the former associate vice provost of Kettering University and founder of the Choice Network, delivered the conference’s keynote speech. She emphasized the importance of women of color obtaining doctoral degrees to move ahead in society.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who was once slated to give the keynote speech, was unable to attend the conference, citing a scheduling conflict.

WCTF Program Coordinator Janice Reuben said this year’s conference was different from the ones in the past.

“Usually, the conference focuses on major issues facing University staff, and how to overcome them,” she said, adding that Michigan’s struggling economy was simply more important this year.

Reuben also said the program was also geared to encourage current University staffers and students of color to stay at the University.

“One of the hopeful outcomes is for people to get educated and provide training so that others can get promoted and we can retain staff and faculty,” she said. “With such a big exodus of people leaving the state, we hope that people use this as an advancement opportunity.”

Angela Hammond, administrative assistant to the director of Pierpont Commons, attended the lecture and was happy she did.

“We are in an eclectic society and it is important for women to educate one other,” she said. ” I enjoyed the conference, and it is my primary training because I find it meets my educational needs.”

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