An annual discussion and meeting of the college’s College Diversity Roundtable took place Saturday. The CDR is an educational forum charged with promoting diversity in all of its manifestations at UR. It focuses on addressing the issues about the atmosphere and quality of life with respect to their effects on racial, ethnic and cultural groups throughout the University.

This weekend’s meeting of the CDR was conducted by co-chairs Assistant Dean of the College and Director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs Norman Burnett, Assistant Dean of Diversity Initiatives and Director of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Beth Olivares and Dean of the College Richard Feldman.

Also in attendance were other representatives from the CDR, the Frederick Douglass Institute, the Office of Minority Student Affairs, McNair Program, the David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity in Science and Engineering and the College Faculty Diversity Committee.

The predominant purpose of the meeting was to meet with UR alumni and discuss how the University is working to improve diversity and the representation of minority groups. One particular and prominent way in which the CDR is working toward these goals is by conducting a study that will poll and assess the feelings of students around the University on issues of diversity, representation and support.

Additionally, the CDR is currently trying to engage minority alumni in providing funding for a number of scholarship and mentoring programs that will help improve the experiences and aid the progress of disadvantaged and minority student groups.

Turnout for the meeting was high and included such esteemed alumni as Charles Banks ’57, a heavily-involved University activist who received a medallion in recognition of his 50 years of dedicated service to promoting diversity and equality both at UR and elsewhere.

Banks, who was one of only two African Americans in his graduating class, is happy with the direction of the CDR and the University’s stance toward diversity.

“I am pleased to see that things are coming along at UR, viewing the current degree of diversity,” he said. “This is the very best thing that could be happening at the campus at this time, though it is long overdue.”

Banks still believes, however, that the school’s work on this issue is far from over.

“The need is still much greater than the resources but they are beginning to come together now, and I am very pleased to see that progress and to see UR becoming what it can and will be,” he said.

Feldman expressed optimism for future efforts to promote diversity at the University.

“I was pleased by the event,” he said. “I thought there was a good turnout – people seemed interested. There were a number of good questions and good ideas, and I hope it… both acknowledged the reality and showed our determination to improve things.”

Feldman also said that he was happy with the number of alumni who showed up.

“This is a vital issue for us, one component is engaging minority alumni, and I am glad that many of them were here, and I am glad that we had a chance to speak with them.”

After the initial discussion in Sloan Auditorium, the attendees circulated through the adjacent atrium where various minority groups were assembled with posters and tri-fold presentations.

The student and community groups present included Messenger Magazine, a biannual publication focusing on cultural and ethnic issues, the Black Students’ Union, representatives of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program and representatives of UR Frederick Douglass Institute.

Singh is a member of the class of 2008.

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