This month, the University of Rochester celebrates an important milestone in its efforts to create a diverse, inclusive campus environment, during the fifth annual diversity conference, Crossroads: An Opportunity for Progress. On Friday, March 28, more than 400 administrators, trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members will explore race, power, and definitions of diversity in the University community. Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University, will deliver the conference's keynote address, which begins at 9:15 a.m. in the Interfaith Chapel.
"I am delighted that Lee Bollinger, one of our nation's leaders in addressing diversity in academia, will be our keynote speaker as we celebrate our milestone fifth Diversity Conference," said President Joel Seligman.
Bollinger is a prominent advocate of affirmative action who played a leading role in the twin Supreme Court cases—Grutter v Bollinger and Gratz v Bollinger—that upheld and clarified the importance of diversity as a compelling justification for affirmative action in higher education. A leading First Amendment scholar, Bollinger is widely published on freedom of speech and the press and currently serves on the faculty of Columbia Law School. This past fall he taught a course, A Free Press for a Global Society, focused on issues he addresses in his most recent work, Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open: A Free Press for a New Century.
"We're honored to welcome President Bollinger to campus, especially as we celebrate the growth and expansion of the conference to include not only the University community, but the citizens of Greater Rochester," said Vivian Lewis, vice provost for faculty development and diversity and deputy to the president.
This year participants can choose among 18 workshops in three conference tracks: race in our community, power and empowerment, and redefining diversity.
Led by Jean Carroll, president and CEO of the YWCA, and leaders of the Facing Race, Embracing Equity initiative, community workshops will explore individual racial/ethnic/cultural histories and how racial disparities impact members of the Rochester community. Two workshops will use spoken word and poetry to engage participants in creating new definitions of diversity, while members of Rush Rhees Library provide opportunities for personal conversations with individuals from diverse groups. Additional sessions will focus on the academic treatment of diversity-related topics, campus climate issues, and the barriers to inclusion that underrepresented populations may face. The conference culminates with a poster session and reception running from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Munnerlyn Atrium in Goergen Hall.
Participants of the conference also are invited to attend An Evening of Diversity and Empowerment, at 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni and Advancement Center (300 East River Road). Sheryl Lee Ralph, an award-winning actress, activist, and author, will deliver a keynote address, and the evening also includes a proclamation from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and artistic performances by MJS Productions and FuturPointDance. Tickets, which are $10 for University of Rochester students, $25 for University faculty and staff, and $35 for the general public, can be purchased at the Common Market in Wilson Commons or at Rochester area Wegmans. For more information, call 585.210.2422 or visit www.mjsproductions.org.
Organizers encourage guests and those who cannot attend to follow the activities on Twitter using the hashtag #urdiversity. Registration for the conference, which ends Friday, March 21, can be completed online. Questions regarding registration can be directed to Kurt Zeller at firstname.lastname@example.org.