Staff Series Explores Muslim American Experience


Each program in the series will be from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the multipurpose room at the Student Community Center. Lunch will be served at no cost.

Fall panel — “Leadership Journeys: Stories From Muslim American Staff”

  • Rodrigo Perez, senior system administrator, Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Zahir A. Mohammed, procurement analyst, Procurement and Contracting Services, Accounting and Financial Services
  • Erum A. Syed, chief administrative officer, Green Cluster, Division of Social Sciences

Moderator: Carolyn Penny, director, Office of Campus Dialogue and Deliberation

RSVPs are required and can be arranged online.


Winter panel — “Understanding Islamophobia: Conversation With Community Leaders,” Tuesday, Feb. 20. Registration will open in December.

Spring panel — “Islam and Muslims: UC Davis Faculty Engage,” Tuesday, April 17. Registration will open in March.

Seating is limited. Faculty and students are welcome to attend should space permit, but priority registration will be given to UC Davis staff members.

During a Breakfast With the Interim Chancellor last year, staff members expressed concern over a lack of conversation, engagement and learning opportunities for staff around the topic of Islam.

Now, with a Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Grant from the campus, a staff member has organized the Diversity Dialogue Series: The Muslim American Experience — a program by staff, for staff. The series will comprise three panel discussions in 2017-18, one per quarter, starting Tuesday, Oct. 3. RSVPs are required; see box.

Erum Syed mugshot

Erum A. Syed, chief administrative officer, Green Cluster, Division of Social Science, did not attend the Breakfast With the Interim Chancellor where the topic of Islam and Muslims came up. But she read about it in Staff Voice and decided to act. Read about the most recent breakfast at the Chancellor’s Residence and the topics of conversation.

“Given the current socio-political climate, the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘Islam’ come up frequently in the news and in conversations around campus,” Syed said.

“At UC Davis, staff members often work alongside Muslim colleagues, students and faculty. However, many UC Davis staff are unsure how to learn more about this subject.” 

In many conversations with staff, Syed concluded most campus events about Islam and Muslims were aimed toward a student-faculty audience, and that they were often held at times when staff members were unable to attend.

The new series, to be held at lunchtime, will provide an opportunity for UC Davis staff to learn about Islam and Muslims through different lenses: personal stories from Muslim colleagues, perspectives from the broader Sacramento community, and academic engagement.

Each program will begin with brief presentations by the panelists, followed by a question-and-answer session.

“The series will offer a holistic view of this very complex topic with opportunities for staff to engage in an inclusive environment,” Syed said.

The series is funded by a UC Davis Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Grant. These grants are designed to support the ideas of UC Davis students, faculty and staff that promote and enhance diversity and inclusion at the university. This funding program is the result of a partnership of the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity, the Campus Council on Community and Diversity, the Office of Campus Community Relations, and the Staff Diversity Administrative Advisory Committee.

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff, 530-752-6556,

Primary Category