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Meliora flagpole seal on River Campus
A Commitment to ‘Ever Better’

At the University of Rochester, we are united by a commitment to be ever better—Meliora. It is our guiding principle and it informs our shared values. We put those values into action by ensuring that all members of our community feel safe, respected, included, and valued.

In support of that mission, the University is taking a number of important steps to strengthen policies, clarify processes, and expand resources to support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Current Initiatives

The University community continues to take significant steps to strengthen policies and practices, to expand resources, and to clearly state a shared commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Take a closer look at the many initiatives currently underway.

1. Policies and Practices

  • Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment (Policy 106)
    Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment (Policy 106)

    A committee broadly representative of staff, faculty, and students, formed in April 2018 and led by associate vice president for Human Resources Tony Kinslow, met regularly to discuss benchmarking and the best approach to revising several aspects of Policy 106, the University’s Policy against Discrimination and Harassment. After significant deliberation and consideration, the committee proposed changes and incorporated feedback, after a public comment period. The revised policy was approved by the Board of Trustees in March 2019.

    The revised policy helps to clarify procedures and offer more explicit guidance.

    The University retained the firm of Littler Mendelson as outside counsel to research and advise on procedures regarding confidentiality of investigations of claims of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by faculty members. These recommendations will be incorporated into the University’s Policy 106 process on an ongoing basis.

  • Mandatory Training: Diversity Learning Series
    Mandatory Training: Diversity Learning Series

    The University undertook a comprehensive review of training programs for gender-based harassment, discrimination, and unconscious bias, and launched a required Diversity Learning Series for faculty and staff in July 2018. The first learning series will focus on implicit bias. An additional series on harassment and discrimination launched in fall 2018.

  • Intimate Relationships Policy
    Intimate Relationships Policy

    A revised policy was approved by the Board of Trustees in Spring 2018 and is now in place. The revisions were based on the work of a committee that included representatives of the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Association, and the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia. The Faculty Handbook has been updated. The revised policy can be accessed at p.11 of the Faculty Handbook.

    A broader process of implementation is currently underway. The University is working to ensure faculty are aware of the new policy, and that the details of its application in departments are made clear. The Provost’s Office is leading the effort.

    An intimate relationships policy governing relationships between graduate students and staff members, and a separate policy governing undergraduate students and staff members, have been drafted and will soon be shared more broadly with the community for review and input. Students, University senior leaders, and the University Diversity and Equity Council, among others, will be consulted for feedback.

  • Pay Equity (Faculty)
    Pay Equity (Faculty)

    Provost Rob Clark has been charged with working collaboratively with deans and other senior administrators, the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia, and Faculty Senate to identify a model for reviewing faculty salaries. A faculty oversight committee is utilizing two subcommittees that will formulate analytical approaches to be used to analyze salary data and to highlight qualitative issues that may not be addressed by statistics. The committee expects to deliver a final report to the provost after the academic year.

  • Email and IT Policy
    Email and IT Policy

    A revised policy was approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees in January 2019. In drafting an updated policy, the Information Technology Committee considered a set of recommendations published by a Faculty Senate Working Group in a report to the University community in March of 2018.

  • Harassment/Discrimination Reporting Guides
    Harassment/Discrimination Reporting Guides

    The University posted guides for students, faculty, and staff that detail reporting options and resources related to sexual misconduct, harassment, and discrimination for complainants, witnesses, and respondents. More extensive versions of the guides were made available at the start of the Fall semester in 2018.

  • Bias-Related Incident Reporting Expansion
    Bias-Related Incident Reporting Expansion

    In addition to sexual misconduct reporting, the University is reviewing plans to develop and expand a common mechanism to report and track bias-related incidents as part of efforts to strengthen the University’s culture of respect.


  • Training for Chairs/Faculty Mentors
    Training for Chairs/Faculty Mentors

    Vice Provost Joan Saab is working on new initiatives for providing training and support to new department chairs and a more robust mentoring support plan for junior faculty.

  • New Public Reports
    New Public Reports

    The University released its 2018 reports on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and College Bias-Related Incidents as part of a new system of public reporting. An additional report on Policy 106 complaints is planned. To protect the privacy of complainants and respondents, the reports do not provide specific case or incident information, but rather generalized information about the number and types of incidents reported. This kind of reporting is becoming more and more commonplace in higher education and it is important information to share with the community, not only to understand current issues, but also to hold the University accountable. 

  • Grievance Policy (Faculty)
    Grievance Policy (Faculty)

    A revision to the Faculty Handbook relating to Faculty Grievance Procedures was approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2018. The handbook section relating to grievances has been expanded to include decisions relating to the reappointment and promotion of any faculty member eligible to vote in Senate elections, whether tenure-track or not. Grounds for the appeal of tenure, reappointment and promotion decisions have been expanded beyond procedural irregularities to include violations of academic freedom. The section relating to general grievances has also been expanded to include violations of academic freedom. All these grievances will be investigated by a Faculty Grievance Committee consisting of five or more members appointed from a list of fifteen faculty nominated by the president and provost. An explanation of the outcome of the process will be communicated back to the complainants, the respondents, and the University Committee on Tenure and Privileges by the appropriate authority. Access the policy in the Faculty Handbook on p.33 of the Faculty Handbook.

  • Respectful Workplace Policy
    Respectful Workplace Policy

    On the recommendation of the Policy 106 Committee, a revision of Policy 100, which will include a “respectful workplace” statement expressing the Meliora Values, is expected soon and will address behavior that may not be unlawful but is nevertheless incompatible with University standards and expectations.

2. Leadership and Organization

  • Office of Equity and Inclusion
    Office of Equity and Inclusion

    Mercedes Ramírez Fernández, associate vice provost for strategic affairs and diversity at Virginia Tech, joined the University on July 1 as Rochester’s first vice president for equity and inclusion. Fernández’s appointment follows a national search that began fall 2018. The University Board of Trustees announced that this position has been endowed through donations and named the Richard Feldman Vice President for Equity and Inclusion to honor Feldman, who stepped down as University president at the end of June 2019. The vice president leads the new Office of Equity and Inclusion and works closely with deans and other senior leaders and campus constituencies to create, implement and lead an institution-wide diversity strategic plan that includes recruitment, training, communication, policy and metrics. Working with campus diversity leaders, the vice president will integrate this strategy with federally mandated anti-discrimination compliance, and will also identify and pursue opportunities to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment, including promoting the University’s Vision, Values, and Culture of Respect.

  • Investigator for Harassment/Discrimination Claims
    Investigator for Harassment/Discrimination Claims

    In February 2019, the University hired a new investigator to work on discrimination and harassment claims. The investigator is based in the new Office of Equity and Inclusion and does not report to the Office of Counsel.

  • University Diversity and Equity Council
    University Diversity and Equity Council

    The University announced in February 2018 the formation of a new group, the University Diversity and Equity Council (UDEC), with a charge to collaborate, share best practices, report on progress, and identify University priorities, goals, and requirements. The group is made up of those individuals most directly engaged in diversity efforts from each unit and is poised to more effectively leverage our strengths so that we can translate University ideas and intentions into actions. The UDEC reviews recommendations and ideas coming from the various committees and working groups undertaking similar efforts across campus. 

  • Advisors for Harassment, Discrimination, and Bias
    Advisors for Harassment, Discrimination, and Bias

    In February 2018, the University identified two advisors to assist claimants, potential claimants, or an accused in matters involving claims of sexual harassment by a faculty member: Lynnett Van Slyke and Frederick Jefferson, University Intercessors. The University also identified HR Business Partners as resources, particularly for staff. The University is exploring possibilities for more formally centralizing a University-wide ombuds program that would provide informal assistance in resolving disputes in an impartial and objective manner.

3. Culture and Values

  • Vision and Values Statement
    Vision and Values Statement

    The University has adopted a new Vision and Values Statement that communicates the University’s shared goals and principles, including a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Statement originated from the Vision and Values Committee, a group composed of faculty, students, and staff. The committee received a great deal of feedback from the University community and drafted a statement that was reviewed and unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2018.

    The statement guides ongoing work to review and revise University policies and procedures, and aims to anchor and give meaning to education and training around diversity, equity, and inclusion by tying them to commonly held values.


  • Restorative Practices
    Restorative Practices

    The University has launched an initiative focused on restorative practices, a method of conflict resolution that can be an effective way to rebuild trust when conflict arises.

    Working with consultants, Beth Olivares, dean for diversity in Arts, Sciences & Engineering (AS&E), is leading the effort to train University community members who can use these proven practices to help people manage conflict, handle disciplinary action appropriately, hold each other accountable, and develop the skills needed to have difficult conversations.

  • Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia
    Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia

    The Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia (CWGEA) formed in October 2017 to help lead the University community’s effort to research and recommend policies and practices that promote a culture of respect, inclusiveness, and equal opportunity for individuals across the gender spectrum. The CWGEA is comprised of faculty, students, and trainees from across all campuses and schools with four working groups that also include staff members.

    The CWGEA released a full report with recommendations in May 2018.


  • Students’ Association Task Force
    Students’ Association Task Force

    The Students’ Association Task Force to Review Sexual Misconduct Policy issued a report in April 2018 recommending changes to the Student Code of Conduct and the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. The Task Force has now been merged into the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia.


  • Annual Report on Diversity and Inclusion
    Annual Report on Diversity and Inclusion

    The twelfth annual diversity report offers a broad overview of the important steps the University community is taking to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The report, available in both a fully accessible digital version and print-ready download, identifies areas of progress and many of the resources that exist across the University to support diversity and inclusion efforts; the appendices highlight particular events and accomplishments of the past year, including progress in responding to the Commission on Race and Diversity recommendations.

    READ THE 2017-2018 REPORT

  • Staff Advisory Council Proposal
    Staff Advisory Council Proposal

    A group led by Associate Vice President for Human Resources Tony Kinslow and Assistant Vice Provost for Diversity Maggie Cousin has reviewed benchmarking data and has made a proposal to create a Staff Advisory Council (SAC). A pilot program for the non-medical divisions is expected in summer 2019.

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