UR President Joel Seligman’s ninth annual diversity report, which was released this May, noted that the University continued to make steady progress with its diversity initiatives. The report summarized efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive community over the 2014-15 academic year, showing marked changes since the first diversity report was published in June 2007.
33.9% of UR faculty were women in fall 2014, an increase from fall 2006 when women made up 28.6% of faculty members. Similarly, the percentage of faculty members identifying themselves as part of an underrepresented racial minority group rose from 2.6% in fall 2006 to 3.9% in fall 2014.
“A diverse faculty in every sense including race, gender, sexual orientation [and] intellectual belief is most likely to help our students by word and example best appreciate the complex and increasingly global world in which they will work and live,” Seligman said in an email.“The commitment to diversity preceded my arrival here, but the ways in which we now focus on being inclusive and welcoming have significantly increased.”
“…the ways in which we now focus on being inclusive and welcoming have significantly increased.”
He highlighted UR’s sixth annual Diversity Conference,
which the report calls the “biggest event of the year for the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity.” The conference took place on April 17, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas as its keynote speaker and offering 18 workshops
led by members of the University community as well as presenters from organizations like Metro Justice and the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. It set a new record for the number of people in attendance with over 700 registrants.
Another standout event, Seligman noted, was Dean of Diversity Initiatives in Arts, Sciences & Engineering Beth Olivares being named as one of 15 recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2015.
Programs at the Kearns Center, where Olivares serves as Executive Director, focus on the educational goals of “low-income, underrepresented minority and first-generation college students,” and “have had a dramatic impact, with students graduating in significantly higher percentages (96%) than the institutional average (84%),” according to the report. The Center also offers tutoring and mentoring opportunities for UR students through programs for Rochester City School District students.
The percentages of UR students identifying as members of an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority (URM) in fall 2014 have risen at the College of Arts & Sciences, the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Eastman School of Music, School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Warner Graduate School of Education when compared to percentages in fall 2006. At the Simon School of Business Administration and the School of Nursing, however, percentages of URM students were lower in fall 2014 than in fall 2006.
This academic year, the University also became one of several research partners with Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically black liberal arts college, through a program funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. This means that Xavier University of Louisiana’s undergraduate students will have new opportunities to work with UR faculty and work on research projects at UR.
Further, the Diversity Initiative for The Meliora Challenge exceeded its original fundraising goal of five million dollars. Deputy to the President and Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Vivian Lewis “and the volunteer leadership dedicated to this initiative are determined to go further,” Seligman said.
Lai is a member of the class of 2018.