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Global Celebration Committee seeks input from University community on plan to showcase diversity

September 6, 2022
Yellow-and-blue-hued hand holding globe next to the words "University of Rochester Global Celebration Committee."(University of Rochester illustration)

The group is accepting submissions through October 31 and will make recommendations to President Mangelsdorf in December.

A committee comprising faculty, staff, and students from across the University of Rochester is overseeing an initiative to showcase the institution’s global diversity.

The Global Celebration Committee is cochaired by Nile Blunt, the McPherson Director for Academic Programs at the Memorial Art Gallery, and William FitzPatrick, the Gideon Webster Burbank Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy in the College’s Department of Philosophy. The 17-person committee was created by University President Sarah Mangelsdorf last spring and charged with developing an installation or celebration that unifies all University campuses.

Request for proposals

Share your creative ideas and innovative ways to celebrate the University’s global diversity and impact by October 31.

The University community is invited to submit creative ideas that would represent Rochester’s global diversity in meaningful, valuable, and inspirational ways. The committee will accept submissions through October 31 and make recommendations to Mangelsdorf in December. A decision is expected during the spring 2023 semester.

“The goal of the committee is to present President Mangelsdorf with recommendations for an innovative, inclusive, and widely visible way to represent the University’s global engagement and impact,” Blunt says. “We also hope to celebrate our broadly diverse international community without relying on representations of individual nation-states or specific politicized identities.”

The committee was created after Mangelsdorf decided last year to permanently discontinue the international flag display in Wilson Commons. The display became a source of controversy in 2019 when the flags of Taiwan and Hong Kong were hung separately in Hirst Lounge after being categorized as subnational entities.

In a letter to the advisory committees that were created after the flags were removed, Mangelsdorf said that “the use of flags as a signifier of global engagement creates too many opportunities for confusion and conflict in a geopolitical reality that is increasingly fluid.”

She also acknowledged missteps by the administration: “It is clear that the administration did not always act in a way that was transparent and did not always fully consider the voices and views of all stakeholders before acting. I take full responsibility for that, and for that I apologize.”

Harnessing Rochester’s ‘creativity and expansive thinking’

Miraz A. Sadi ’24, a chemical engineering and biological sciences double major from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and a senate member in the Students’ Association (SA) government, says he joined the committee to bring an international perspective to finding “the best possible representation” for the University.

“I think it’s very important for us to come up with smart and innovative ideas and resolve this,” Sadi says. “We want to give students something they’ll appreciate at Rochester for the next 100 years.”

Lilly Hutton ’22, a double major in international relations and history from Albany, New York, also serves on the committee. She believes it’s important to celebrate the various backgrounds, belief systems, cultures, and identities across the University. “A physical reminder of our diversity is important and can help connect the community to their places of origin, especially students who are far from home,” says Hutton, who serves as campus life committee chair for the SA government.

The Global Celebration Committee is focused on finding a way to honor the University’s international students, both graduate and undergraduate—who currently hail from 136 countries, according to Ravi Shankar, assistant vice provost and director of the International Services Office—while also celebrating the global diversity of the broader University community.

“We intend to harness the creativity and expansive thinking of students, trainees, postdocs, faculty, staff, and alumni to help make recommendations for something that is thoughtful, sustainable, and able to unite all of our campuses,” Blunt says. “Whatever results from the work of this committee will aim to celebrate the rich diversity of the entire University community throughout the city of Rochester and across the globe. We also hope that it will embody our shared identity and values as a globally engaged university.”

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