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Interim President Designate Richard Feldman
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. We invite you to join us in this endeavor. Share your feedback and ideas. Visit the Culture of Respect website often to stay informed.  on the progress we’re making.

Current Initiatives

In recent months, the University community has taken 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, has met regularly to discuss benchmarking and the best approach to revising several aspects of Policy 106, the University’s Policy against Discrimination and Harassment. The committee has drafted proposed changes to the policy, along with a report discussing their recommendations and deliberations. The documents are available here. The Policy 106 Committee requests community feedback on the proposed changes to the policy by January 23, 2019. Community members can send feedback to The committee’s recommendations and proposed revisions presented at the conclusion of its work will reflect the committee’s consideration of and deliberation on this feedback. The committee’s report will also be available to the University community.

    The revised policy will help clarify procedures and offer more explicit guidance, and will be distributed for comment from the White Report Oversight Committee, the Faculty Senate, the University Diversity and Equity Council Executive Committee, and the community.

    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 are being reviewed by the Policy 106 Committee.

  • 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. President Feldman has asked the Provost’s Office to take the lead on this 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)

    President Feldman has asked Provost Rob Clark to work 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.

  • Email and IT Policy
    Email and IT Policy

    A revised policy is in the final stages of the review process. While the current policy includes a statement about privacy, a Faculty Senate Working Group published a set of recommendations in a report to the University community on March 21, 2018. The Information Technology Policy Committee has drafted an updated policy based on that report. In accordance with the Policy on Policy-Making, the revised policy will be reviewed by the Policy Approval Committee (General Counsel, Chief Financial Officer, and Provost) and referred to the President for approval, and the President may refer a proposed policy to the Board of Trustees for adoption. The proposal will be shared with the White Report Oversight Committee (WROC) of the Board of Trustees.

  • New Harassment/Discrimination Reporting Guides
    New Harassment/Discrimination Reporting Guides

    The University posted newly created 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. The reports are reviewed by the Trustee’s White Report Oversight Committee and the University Diversity and Equity Council.

  • 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

    A sub-committee of the group currently reviewing Policy 106 is expected to report soon on recommendations for a “respectful workplace” policy, which 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

    President Feldman is establishing a new University-wide office to coordinate and oversee diversity, equity, and inclusion activities. A new vice president will lead the office, which will be responsible for coordinating recruiting, training, conferences and other activities aimed at strengthening a respectful climate for the entire University. The University has launched a national search with the goal of filling the position in 2019.

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

    The University has begun the process of hiring an investigator to work on discrimination and harassment claims who will not be located in the Office of Counsel, but in a new Office of Equity and Inclusion focused on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • University Diversity and Equity Council
    University Diversity and Equity Council

    President Feldman 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. Because the UDEC is necessarily a relatively large Council, President Feldman also created a smaller Executive Committee, a subset of the UDEC membership, to meet as needed. The Executive Committee functions as a smaller working group to set agendas for the UDEC and to address issues when it is not feasible to assemble the entire UDEC. The group will eventually be chaired by the chief diversity officer. President Richard Feldman will serve as chair of the UDEC until a permanent University-wide diversity leader is appointed.

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

    In February, 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. President Feldman is exploring possibilities for a University-wide Ombuds program that would provide informal assistance in resolving disputes in an impartial and objective manner.

  • Trustee Oversight Committee
    Trustee Oversight Committee

    In mid-February, the Board of Trustees approved the creation of an ad hoc White Report Oversight Committee to offer guidance on structural and cultural transformation initiatives. The committee met for the first time on March 2 and has since met regularly. The initial term for the committee will run through December 2019, although it could be dissolved earlier or extended with support from the Board chair and Board.

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.

    President Feldman charged Maggie Cousin, assistant vice provost for diversity, and Joan Saab, vice provost of academic affairs, to co-chair a Vision and Values Implementation Committee that will integrate Vision and Values into the life of the University. They are working closely with the Vision and Values drafting committee, the University Diversity and Equity Council, and the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia to ensure the broadest possible dissemination and impact.

    Ultimately the statement will guide ongoing work to review and revise University policies and procedures. The statements will also anchor and give meaning to education and training around diversity, equity, and inclusion by tying them to commonly held values, and help the University strengthen a culture of respect.


  • 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 is reviewing benchmarking data and exploring a proposal to create a Staff Advisory Council (SAC).

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