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The University of Rochester: An Inclusive Community

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Dean Burgett
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The University of Rochester envisions itself as a community that welcomes, encourages, and supports individuals who desire to contribute to and benefit from the institution’s missions of teaching, research, patient care, performance, and community service. In a pluralistic culture, that community includes faculty, students, and staff who represent important differences. Members of the University’s community come from different geographical areas, represent differences in ethnicities, religious beliefs, values, and points of view; they may be physically different, have different intellectual interests, or have different abilities. The University not only welcomes such differences in the members of its community but, in fulfilling its own missions and in preparing the leaders of tomorrow’s world who will necessarily be operating in an equally wide-ranging environment, it actively seeks to recruit and include them in all aspects of the institution’s operations.

The University has been more successful in some instances than in others in attracting and retaining participants from such a demographically broad base. Certain groups, for whom participation in the University’s history is relatively recent, and not yet fully realized, present critically important and unique challenges. The University is explicit about its responsibilities under the law to provide equal opportunities for all persons regardless of age, color, disability, ethnicity, marital status, national origin, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and veteran status. To be inclusive in the broad sense defined by the University’s mission, much remains to be done beyond compliance with the law and explicit language about equal opportunity. Further, the University’s activities in this regard must always be directed to the enhancement of the human dignity of all members of its community; that must include strategies that foster appreciation for our many differences. These are essential to the success of the institution’s missions.

The University has a goal of ensuring an inclusive and welcoming environment for all of its members, especially historically underrepresented minorities and members of legally protected groups. Success will be measured by relative progress determined by quality and contributions to overall institutional goals and missions. That requires vigorous, systematic, consistent, and enduring actions in all University domains.

The University of Rochester is an institution devoted to teaching and learning, and producing new knowledge. We do these at world-class levels. The challenges facing us as we work to be more inclusive and provide a welcoming environment will respond to our skills as teachers and learners. In the context of our commitment to being more inclusive and diverse, we can apply these skills to the continuing work of transforming our environment in ways that enable greater participation, enhance human dignity, eliminate prejudice and discrimination, and improve the quality of life for everyone.