Mosaic, a recently created Cornell organization designed to promote alumni-student interactions among minorities, held its second conference last weekend at the Cornell Club in New York City.
The conference, intended to “celebrate diversity and advance inclusion,” featured Cornell alumni as keynote speakers ranging from recent grads to graduates from the sixties and packed the club with representatives from Cornell’s African-American, Asian-American, Latino, and Native American communities.
“This conference was part of a serious paradigm shift on behalf of Cornell’s minority communities,” said Renee Alexander ’74, director of minority alumni programs. “Previously when Asian-American alumni groups came together, they would associate primarily with Asian-American student organizations, and African-American groups would associate primarily with African-American groups, and so forth. But with Mosaic we’ve brought all of these groups together in one forum; every group is at the same table, able to share their experiences as part of a larger minority community. Alumni and students alike can see the similarities we all share, and thus we can advance the concept of inclusion not just between whites and minorities, but between different minority groups,” she said.
Alexander, an alumna who started working for Cornell shortly after the formation of Mosaic, hoped to share the experiences of both current and former students at Cornell in presenting Cornell’s evolution as an open and diverse university. She said looking back on this endeavor as it played out during the conference, Mosaic succeeded spectacularly.
“For me, the reception was the most memorable part of the event,” she said. “The room was so loud with excited conversation that it still strikes me as a wonder that no glass was broken in the din. People were excited to be part of this group. Even after the reception, some people stayed around even after they should have left,” she said with a laugh.
“With Mosaic we managed to convince alumni who otherwise would not have contributed to Cornell to come, and I think they left with real satisfaction over the progress of their alma mater,” said Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’67.
Among the students able to attend the event was Justin Davis ’07, a student representative on the Minority Alumni Initiatives Implementation Committee. His interest in Mosaic was sparked after his participation in the panel: “What Is Cornell Life Like Today?” that allowed him to share his current Cornell experiences with alumni. He said he enjoyed this experience, adding that it is “important in a society that often discriminates against such groups to have a venue that introduces students to successful minority alumni.”
The organization has expressed a desire to expand into holding smaller Mosaic conferences once a year, in efforts to have greater alumni attendance. This would be a change from the current conferences three times a year in major cities. While Mosaic has largely lacked prominence among the Cornell community, the organization is planning additional conferences for later this year and hopes that implementing new initiatives will attract new students and alumni to get involved.
Archived article by Tom Beckwith
Sun Staff Writer