February 15, 2012

Cornell Announces New Diversity Initiatives

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President David Skorton announced a set of new University-wide diversity initiatives in an email to the Cornell community on Wednesday.

According to the email, the University intends to improve accountability for diversity standards by restructuring the University Diversity Council, which is charged with promoting diversity throught Cornell. Skorton said that each college’s dean will be tasked with defining specific goals for their respective colleges.

“To be on the cutting edge in all aspects of our mission, we must boldly pursue an inclusive academic and work environment,” Skorton said in the email.

Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’67, who is also the dean and co-chair of the UDC’s Working Group, which develops strategies to promote diversity, said that these changes will aid the University in broadening the scope of its faculty.

“We’re in a very key moment in the life of the University,” Hubbell said. “We’re going to be recruiting new faculty. It’s a great opportunity to bring in new faces and new voices across the spectrum of the campus.”

According to the email, the new council will set diversity goals for different groups across the University. It will focus on defining short and long-term goals for diversity, creating methods of measuring progress and serving as a resource for the Cornell community.

This new approach –– titled “Toward New Destinations” –– allows colleges to prioritize diversity initiatives based on their individual needs, according to a University press release. Deans and vice presidents will choose five diversity initiatives tailored to their departments’ needs and will be responsible for taking action to meet the goals of these initiatives.

An annual report on diversity will emphasize the most effective practices and document progress toward the programs’ goals.

Five diversity officers in the UDC will be responsible for formulating policy, evaluating progress, identifying opportunities and locating areas of concern within their areas of responsibility, and evaluating diversity concerns at the university as a whole, according to the University.

Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy ’73 said the new policy was necessary because Cornell needs to become more diverse in several areas.

“For all the progress we have made … we still have work to do,” Murphy said. “We don’t have the diversity of our workforce we would like to see, and there are some gaps in graduation rates we’d like to We have some work to do around the campus climate, having everyone feel as if they are full members of this community.”

Hubbell said this move would bring new focus on the issue of diversity on campus.

“It should bring a tremendous amount of energy to bear on the amount of diversity on campus…it’s a re-dedication to long-standing Cornell values about diversity and inclusion,” he said.

Original Author: Emma Court