Our Diversity Philosophy

The University's rationale for being richly diverse across all its domains and within all its various constituencies (students, staff, faculty, researchers, senior leaders, and others) is specific to its history, location, and mission; important to its goal of educating global thought leaders; and embedded within the larger enterprise of higher education.

Through fairly recent history, American higher education was the exclusive province of wealthy white males; this is no longer the case. The civil rights and cultural revolutions of the past sixty years, and on-going activism around racial inequality, have caused a seismic shift in both the (real and perceived) purposes of American universities, as well as in the individuals who people them. The University of Rochester, and within it, Arts, Sciences and Engineering (AS&E), is no exception.

These shifts require that AS&E consistently seeks to become representative of the nation; not to right past wrongs, but rather to ensure that the research, teaching, and learning enterprise here is the very best it can be, and is not bound by unnecessary barriers or biases. Students and others demand a more representative institution. This aspiration goal drives our Black and Hispanic students to ask for more faculty, students, and staff of color in all departments and at all levels of the University and AS&E.

As the largest employer in the greater Rochester area, and the fifth largest private employer in New York State, the University has a responsibility to the community in which we live. Like other units, AS&E often draws on the local population for workers, except for higher-level administrative and faculty positions. Yet our professional workforce remains predominantly white, and our service workers predominantly Black and Hispanic.

Rochester also has a specific history that refers back to the 19th-century fights for the abolition of slavery and for female suffrage, as embodied in Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, for whom AS&E has named buildings and academic programs. The institution continues to draw on the moral and intellectual legacies of these visionaries from the past, while dealing with current realities.

This heritage impels AS&E to create not just a representative community, but an actively inclusive one in which all can flourish, regardless of demographics, politics, income, or religion. Inclusivity is not passive, and does not occur just by bringing people together on one campus or in one classroom.

Beyond practicing active inclusivity, AS&E has a responsibility to ensure, insofar as it is possible, that all students, staff, and faculty, regardless of demographics, have equitable outcomes. This means different things for our populations, but includes the areas of promotion, tenure, retention, participation, and graduation rates, among others.