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March 29, 2010

Conference aims to build ‘stronger community’

University event focuses on diversity, inclusion efforts

Next month the University will bring together representatives from all the institution’s constituencies for the first-ever University-wide diversity conference, “Building a Stronger Community.” On Monday, April 5, more than 100 administrators, trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members will gather to discuss programs and policies related to issues of diversity and inclusion on Rochester’s campuses.

“Diversity and inclusiveness are priorities of our University,” says President Joel Seligman. “This first-ever University-wide conversation about how we can strengthen our commitment to building a more welcoming and supportive community marks an important milestone in our progress.”

The conference, which is being organized through the Office for Faculty Development and Diversity, will include three sessions. It will open with concurrent presentations that focus on faculty recruitment and retention, the University’s community outreach programs, and organizational change efforts in regard to diversity and inclusiveness. After the presentations, members of the University’s Board of Trustees will lead small group discussions about those topics.

At a working lunch, participants will discuss what they learned at the earlier presentations and share the best practices and challenges they face in their day-to-day activities. After lunch, participants at each table will have the opportunity to present their thoughts during a large group conversation moderated by Provost Ralph Kuncl. The session also will include comments and feedback from a panel of University trustees and diversity officers from Rochester companies, including Xerox, Kodak, and Bausch & Lomb.

“This conference is really a forum for the exchange of ideas,” says Vivian Lewis, acting vice provost for faculty development and diversity and acting deputy to the president. “Participants who work on diversity and inclusion in their departments will be able to share resources that can be built upon and hopefully create opportunities for intercampus collaboration.”

To close the conference, Seligman will present a vision for the future of the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

The conference also will feature a virtual component, also a first for the University’s diversity initiatives. Members of the University community unable to attend the conference can watch a live webcast of the large group discussion and Seligman’s presentation. Organizers hope viewers will voice their opinions and suggestions via Twitter, where a common hashtag (#uofrdiversity) will allow participants to follow the thread of the virtual conversation.

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