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May 2010

Annual Report on Diversity

Message from President Seligman

This was a year that brought several major diversity-related events to the university, from the listening tour report to the first annual all-university diversity conference. The proportion of women faculty throughout the University continued to increase from 28.6 percent in fall 2006 to 31.2 percent in fall 2009. Faculty who identified themselves as a member of an underrepresented group increased from 2.6 to 3.2 percent during that period, equal to last year’s percentage. For employees Grade 50 and above, the percent of underrepresented minorities increased from 5.1 to 6.6 percent between fall 2006 and fall 2009. Although our numbers last year remained relatively static during an economic recession, if I’ve learned one thing about diversity more than anything else, it is that numbers are at most a starting point. What matters is the story behind the numbers, the dynamic, the integrity of the effort, the commitment to progress, and in that sense we’re starting to move in the right direction.

Underlying these results has been the implementation of many of the recommendations proposed by the December 1, 2009 report: “Improving Faculty Recruitment and Retention at the University of Rochester: A Diversity and Inclusion Initiative.” The authors conducted individual interviews with 94 mostly minority faculty and created three composite case studies to illustrate the daily lives of our faculty. They went on to make 14 recommendations that the arc across disciplines and schools, which have a particular impact on underrepresented faculty. In turn, these recommendations can be clustered beneath four broad themes:

  • Development: the professional support extended to faculty as they develop their careers;
    Leadership: the direct and symbolic actions that align departments and their members with the university’s vision and mission;
  • Personal Needs: the aspects of private life that are tied to a faculty member’s ability to succeed in their careers;
  • Organizational Culture: the shared assumptions, norms, attitudes, and practices that characterize daily life in a particular environment.

Beginning October 1, Vivian Lewis has served as Acting Deputy to the President and Acting Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity. Vivian has done a magnificent job, and our search for a permanent Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity will soon be concluded. I have been attending University faculty diversity committee meetings on a regular basis, and the work that has been done this year has been impressive. I am pleased that all of our academic divisions are involved in efforts to strengthen their diversity and development initiatives. Two examples can be seen in our school of Nursing and the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. In Nursing, the Dean’s Advisory Council for Diversity and Inclusiveness has been working towards creating a welcoming environment that reflects and values increasing diversity of the faculty, staff, and students at the School of Nursing. In Arts, Sciences and Engineering, there will be a Faculty Development Committee with special responsibility for advising on the development of faculty from groups who are underrepresented generally or underrepresented in their disciplines.

During times of economic hardship, salary freezes, and budget cuts, diversity programs are often among the first cuts. At the University of Rochester, this is not the case. Our commitment to diversity is enduring and, in fact, we will expand support for the Special Opportunities Fund from its current $500,000 a year to $600,000 a year beginning in 2010-2011 and to $750,000 in 2011-2012. Academic quality, academic freedom, a special relationship with the city of Rochester and diversity is and will continue to be, core values of this university. All of us are fully committed to the objective of achieving a campus that is diverse and inclusive, where all members of our community feel welcomed and supported, and where a commitment to diversity and academic excellence progress hand-in-hand.

Next year, I look forward to continuing the implementation of the listening tour report recommendations.

Our future as a University will increasingly be one of racial, gender, ethnic, and intellectual diversity. Institutions that succeed in the 21st century will be those that have mastered the ability to work with people throughout the globe based on their talents, regardless of their religion, nationality, race, their gender. I am impressed with the depth and volume of steps taken towards a more diverse community

Our task as a University is to welcome all to join our community based on their talents. This task is not a simple one and there will be setbacks and challenges along the way. But I am convinced that progress in achieving greater diversity is vital to our success as a great research University. I am gratified to be associated with a university where a commitment to diversity is consistently reflected in the decisions of our Board and our senior leadership.

Let me conclude by particularly expressing my gratitude for these efforts to Vivian Lewis, Acting Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, who has continued the work of her predecessor. I also want to thank Lynne Davidson, as it was her efforts that built the foundation for effectiveness in diversity and inclusiveness. Additionally let me thank Maggie Cassie, Assistant Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity; Dr. Frederick Jefferson, University Intercessor; Stan Byrd, Human Resources Director of Multicultural Affairs and Inclusion; the deans and faculty diversity officers and committees in each school; Provost Ralph Kuncl; and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Brad Berk.

2010 Diversity accomplishments at a glance

  • Listening Tour Report
  • Vivian Lewis as Acting Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity
  • First Annual Presidential Diversity Awards
  • Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery delivers the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address
  • First Annual University-wide Conference on Diversity: Building a Stronger Community

Joel Seligman

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