Healing Higher Education:

Race, Reckoning, and Radical Reimagining

Higher education is in crisis. More specifically, the human beings who inhabit the system known as higher education are in crisis. We have only to open the New York Times, read The Chronicle of Higher Education, chat with colleagues and friends working within higher education institutions, or chat with students to know that three years (and counting) of a global pandemic have brought the inequities, injustices, and inhumanity within our institutions of higher education to the fore for our faculty, staff, students, and administrators. The issues are not new, and the problems have become concretized in the everyday lives of each institution, but perhaps we have all finally reached the limits of our passive acceptance and are irresistibility compelled to act, to force a reckoning, and to begin to radically reimagine higher education by first transforming ourselves.

What we know is that the ways in which institutions and systems operate are choices, and each institution can make the choice to be-do otherwise. Never more than now—in the third year of a global pandemic, in a nation being forced to reckon with its racist past and unjust present, to shape a more just future by the very people it continues to oppress—has there been a clearer mandate for healing higher education.

Healing is a practice and a continuous process. Healing systems is a continuous process of embodiment; of making incarnate the transformation toward wholeness and compassion in ourselves, first, so this attunement in body, mind, and spirit alters every environment in which you might find yourself planted. However, nothing can be healed until it is faced, and nothing is faced in earnest until we tell the truth about it.

Understanding that the mind that got us into the mess cannot be the same mind that gets us out of it, this series seeks to utilize a contemplative lens to explore a singular question from multiple perspectives:

Given the current state of higher education, how might we catalyze healing to transform higher education into what it is not yet, but must become if we are live together peacefully, respect the planet, and uplift the human spirit?

“…In our despair that justice is slow
we sit with heads bowed

even whether
we will ever be healed.

Perhaps it is a question
only the ravaged
the violated
seriously ask.
And is that not now
almost all of us?

But hope is on the way…”

Hope of Healing, Alice Walker

Download the series flyer

This series will be moderated by David Robinson-Morris, PhD. Dr. Robinson-Morris serves as the Executive Director for The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (CMind), and is the Founder and Chief Reimaginelutionary at The REImaginelution, LLC, a strategic consulting firm working at the intersections of imagination, policy, practice, and prophetic hope to radically reimagine diversity, equity, and inclusion toward racial justice and systemic transformation by engendering freedom of the human spirit. Dr. Robinson-Morris is a scholar, author, philosopher, social justice and human rights advocate-activist, educator, philanthropist, community organizer, DEI practitioner, and administrator. He is the author of a research monograph, Ubuntu and Buddhism in Higher Education: An Ontological (Re)Thinking, published by Routledge.

Dr. David W. Robinson-Morris

This webinar series is free and open to all.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to CMind.

Healing Higher Education: Confronting the Issues  

Thursday, March 17, 2022
7:00-8:30 PM ET (6:00-7:30 PM CT)

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Join Dr. Joy Blanchard, Associate Professor of Higher Education at Louisiana State University, and Dr. Hollie Chessman, Director of Research at the American Council on Education, in a data driven conversation where the issues are identified, named, and confronted as a beginning of the healing process. Borrowing from Bryan Stevenson, there is no healing without the truth. Dr. Chessman will highlight a series of research reports from the American Council on Education that sheds light on the myriad of issues within higher education  from the concerns of sitting college and university presidents to the issues of racial injustice and inequity rampant on American college campuses.

Moderated by CMind Executive Director, Dr. David Robinson-Morris.

Joy Blanchard

Joy Blanchard’s research focuses on higher education law, primarily issues related to intercollegiate athletics, negligence liability and student safety, and faculty rights. She is a past member of the board of directors of the Education Law Association and served as national conference co-chair in 2018. Joy serves on the editorial board of several scholarly journals, including Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice. Prior to joining the faculty ranks, Joy worked in student affairs, having served as Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and has held positions in residence life, student conduct, service-learning, and student activities.

Hollie Chessman

Hollie M. Chessman is director of research at ACE. She is responsible for building out ACE’s portfolio of work on what college and university leaders need to know about student mental health and well-being.

Prior to ACE, Chessman spent 17 years working in student affairs at Tulane University, Lake Erie College, Loyola University New Orleans, and George Mason University. Her research interests focus on well-being among students and student affairs professionals, graduate student choice, student success, and race and ethnicity in higher education.

Chessman received her PhD from George Mason University and her MEd and BS from Kent State University.

Healing Higher Education: Embodying the Institution, Healing Faculty

Thursday, March 31st, 2022
7:00-8:30 PM ET (6:00-7:30 PM CT)

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Join Dr. Maria Hamilton Abegunde and Dr. Ricardo Montelongo as they discuss the role of faculty in healing and embodying the institution. More importantly, they will shed light on what faculty are experiencing on campuses across the country amid the pandemic; their perspective on their own woundedness and that of their students in this moment of racial reckoning and grand transformation. Finally, faculty will engage their imaginations to envision what healing might look, feel, and be like on campuses across the country. 

 CMind Executive Director Dr. David Robinson-Morris will moderate the dialogue.


Dr. Abegunde is a memory keeper, ancestral priest, and full spectrum doula. Her creative works and research are grounded in African-centered contemplative and ritual practices that center joy and love to heal inter-generational trauma. She is interested in transforming the academy into one of many paths of contemplative practice. Her most recent works have been published in FIRE!!!, Keeper of My Mothers’ Dreams, The Eternal Year of African People, Trouble the Waters: Tales of the Deep Blue, ASHE: Ritual Poetics in African Diasporic Expression, and the forthcoming SO WE CAN KNOW: Writers of Color on Pregnancy, Loss, Abortion, and Birth. Dr. Abegunde is a faculty member in African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University.


Ricardo Montelongo, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University. He teaches in the Higher Education Administration, Higher Education Leadership, and Developmental Education Administration programs. Ricardo’s primary research interests include college student involvement; the impact of Latina/o/x college student organizations; diversity issues in higher education; and spirituality in higher education. He also studies (critical) digital pedagogy and online teaching and learning.  He has twenty years professional administrative experience in student success, academic advising, academic enhancement, Student Support Services/TRiO, institutional research, career development and residence life.  He received his Ph.D. in Higher Education from Indiana University and a M.S. in Student Affairs Administration and B.S. in Psychology both from Texas A&M University. Dr. Montelongo is active in ACPA College Student Educators International and was co-chair of its Latinx Network from 2011-2013. His personal website is located at https://ricmontelongo.com

Healing Higher Education: Reimagining Contemplative Practice at the Community College

Thursday, April 7th, 2022
7:00-8:30 PM ET (6:00-7:30 PM CT)

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Join us as we consider what contemplative practice means in the community college setting within the context of an extraordinary couple of years amidst a global pandemic, racial justice movements, among many other societal happenings. We'll share and discuss experience and research around community college contemplative practice, looking at themes of access, language and community. We'll also discuss practical ways contemplative practices can be used in the community college classroom and beyond.

Marlon Blake

Marlon Blake currently works as the Assistant Dean of Students at the University of St. Thomas. Marlon has spent the last 12 years in higher education, serving in various leadership roles. Marlon’s current research emphasis focuses on how faculty members use contemplative pedagogy in the classroom. He is currently researching how these practices can better support community college students and improve academic outcomes. Marlon believes as a community college practitioner that contemplative pedagogy can be implemented in the community college system to better serve students, but especially students of color. Finally, Marlon is the founder of the YouTube channel, the Community for Contemplative Conversations.

Stephanie Briggs

Stephanie Briggs is owner/designer of Be.Still.Move., a program of contemplative, compassionate, just community building. She is a space holder, storyteller, contemplative creator, and coach whose practices include embodied movement, art, and sound. She is trained in sound healing, Reiki, is a Stephen’s Minister, completed Naropa University’s Authentic Leadership and Mindful Compassion training, and is the creator of Authentic Collaborative Leadership and Breathing N2 Blackness. She laughs often and allows joy to win!

Amy Pucino

Amy Pucino, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), where she is also engaged in the Contemplative Community Circle of faculty and staff who share contemplative practices with each other and with students. Amy is trained in teaching meditation through The Mindfulness Center of Maryland. Her academic interests include practicing community-based learning and research, building social justice curriculum, and using contemplative practice en route to both strengthening the use of the sociological imagination and working towards personal, professional, and societal growth. Otherwise, she especially enjoys being outdoors with her growing family and compassionate community.

Healing Higher Ed: Racial Reckoning, Racial Justice

Thursday, April 21st, 2022
7:00-8:30 PM ET (6:00-7:30 PM CT)

 A link to this recording was sent to the webinar registrants.

Join Dr. Tia Brown McNair and Professor Rhonda Magee in what is sure to be a lively and thoughtful conversation centering the issue of racial injustice and inequity that have existed on many American college and university campuses but have been brought to the fore by the necessary protests and awareness catalyzed by the outrageous number of extrajudicial murders of Black and Brown human beings in the United States. 

How might colleges and universities begin the institutional work of racial justice, truth-telling, reconciliation, and healing while simultaneously understanding the inner work of racial justice and healing? 

CMind Executive Director Dr. David Robinson-Morris will moderate the dialogue.


Dr. Tia Brown McNair is the Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, DC. She oversees both funded projects and AAC&U’s continuing programs on equity, inclusive excellence, high-impact practices, and student success. McNair directs AAC&U’s Summer Institutes on High-Impact Practices and Student Success, and TRHT Campus Centers and serves as the project director for several AAC&U initiatives. She is the lead author of From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education(January 2020) and Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success (July 2016). In March 2020, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education named McNair one of thirty-five outstanding women who have tackled some of higher education’s toughest challenges and made a positive difference in their communities.


A leading thought and practice innovator of mindfulness-based social justice concepts and practices, Rhonda V. Magee, M.A., J.D., is Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco. Magee has spent more than twenty years exploring the intersections of anti-racist education, social justice, and contemplative practices. She is the inaugural recipient of the Reed Smith Excellence in Wellbeing in Law Award (2022), awarded after an independent, national selection process by the Institute for Wellbeing in Law. A Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, she is a global/international Keynote speaker; mindfulness teacher and teacher trainer; practice innovator, storyteller, and thought leader on integrating Mindfulness into Higher Education, Law and Social Justice. She is student of a range of Buddhist traditions and mindfulness masters, and is a lay teacher in the Peacemaker Order led by Upaya Zen Center founder Roshi Joan Halifax. Rhonda’s award-winning book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness, was named one of the top ten books released for the year by the Greater Good Science Center.

Healing Higher Ed: Pedagogies of Healing and Practices of Reimagining

Thursday, April 28th, 2022
7:00-8:30 PM ET (6:00-7:30 PM CT)

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Join Dr. Mays Imad and Dr. J. Cody Nielsen as they help us to synthesize what we have learned about healing ourselves, healing the system of higher education, and reckoning with the issues of racial injustice and inequity on American college campuses. In dialogue, Drs. Imad and Nielsen will center pedagogies of healing and practices of reimagining that any member of the college and university community can employ to heal themselves, their respective institutions, and their corners of the world. 

They will provide us with tools on how we might begin to heal ourselves and higher education, collectively, through the practice of radical reimagining toward the emergence of new understandings of what it means to be a human being within institutions of higher education. 

CMind Executive Director Dr. David Robinson-Morris will moderate the dialogue. 


Mays Imad received her undergraduate training from the University of Michigan–Dearborn where she studied philosophy. She received her doctoral degree in Cellular & Clinical Neurobiology from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. She then completed a National Institute of Health-Funded postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona in the Department of Neuroscience. She joined the department of life & physical sciences at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona as an adjunct faculty member in 2009 and later as a full-time faculty member in 2013. During her tenure at Pima, she taught Physiology, Pathophysiology, Genetics, Biotechnology, and Biomedical ethics. She also founded Pima’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). Imad is currently teaching in the biology department at Connecticut College. 

Mays is a Gardner Institute Fellow and an AAC&U Senior Fellow within the Office of Undergraduate STEM Education. Dr. Imad’s research focuses on stress, self-awareness, advocacy, and classroom community, and how these impact student learning and success. Through her teaching and research she seeks to provide her students with transformative opportunities that are grounded in the aesthetics of learning, truth-seeking, justice, and self-realization. 

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Imad works with faculty members across disciplines at her own institution and across the country to promote inclusive, equitable, and contextual education–all rooted in the latest research on the neurobiology of learning. A nationally-recognized expert on trauma-informed teaching and learning, she passionately advocates for institutions to make mental health a top priority and to systematically support the education of the whole student.


Cody holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Iowa State University and masters degrees in mental health counseling and divinity.  He is the founder and Executive Director of Convergence on Campus, a North American volunteer led social change organization which seeks to dismantle longstanding systems of marginalization of religious, secular, and spiritual identities in higher education.  His 2013-2015 study Multifaith in Higher Education explored the campus climates through a policy and practice lens of over 150 institutions across the United States and Canada. The former Expert in Residence for Religious, Secular, and Spiritual identities for NASPA, Cody is an emerging voice in national calls for equity of religious minorities and non-religious identities on campus.  A scholar by practice (not by nature), Cody's dissertation considered the institutional climate of Penn State University and its Pasquerilla Center, the largest multi faith center at an institution of higher education in North America. He is a father to Levi and an avid runner, writer, and board game enthusiast. On the weekends you can find Cody on a bike trail, in a hammock reading, or in the kitchen baking bread or trying recipes out of cookbook he probably found in a used bookstore.