F. Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

Everyone benefits when a diversity of perspectives is represented. This precept has permeated my work and personal life. I am committed to ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities and fostering a welcoming and positive culture. I believe that sensitivity to the institutional challenges faced by marginalized individuals can make a difference in helping students realize their full potential through higher education.

On June 2, 2003, I published “Diverse Perspectives Crete Prosperous Results” in the Printing News. I wrote: “…I am proud to be associated with institutions that value and promote diversity in the academic workplace. As a white male, it might seem as though I would have something to lose by advocating this viewpoint. However, by promoting diversity, institutions strive to create an environment where creative thinking and creative problem solving abound, and I am frequently the beneficiary of these decisions.”

While supporting institutional diversity initiatives is essential, this effort alone is insufficient for the classroom and workplace. For example, individuals may fear retribution for dissenting viewpoints. As a leader of co-learners in the classroom, I am responsible for engaging with individuals from varied backgrounds in a spirit of collegiality and respect. This engagement shows respect for these individuals’ backgrounds, cultures, and genders and enriches my life as I continually learn while making new friends. In that same 2003 article, I wrote: “It is also my responsibility to ensure that my classroom is an environment where fear of retribution for ideas is driven out.” My efforts here include learning about important cultural and religious holidays and memorizing phrases in different languages. My whiteboard office calendar consists of these holidays each month. I proactively message students away from home near these events and ensure they are connected to local resources and have the technologies to communicate with loved ones.

These efforts are founded upon respect and bear fruit organizationally and for me, as the nuances of diverse cultures and practices are profoundly interesting.

Further, it is the responsibility of leaders to adopt a proactive perspective of cultural humility. This approach is consistent with a commitment to continual improvement. In 2021, I earned the cultural humility certificate from the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), which entailed completing several courses offered by that Division. I look forward to more classes in 2023. As a result of my participation here, I have written to elected leaders to support legislation to assist underrepresented and historically oppressed communities. I have also been inspired to attend lectures and read research and opinions that I may have overlooked before attending these courses, enabling me to grow in these critical areas.

I am active in the RIT program “I’m First,” an organization committed to supporting first-generation university students. As a first-generation university student, sharing my experiences with the students in this group represents a significant way for me to connect with students from across the institute and proactively offer help and guidance. I am also active with the “Women in Technology” initiative. I am proud that the academic programs I lead are among the top programs at RIT in the percentage of STEM students who identify as female. I am especially proactive in advising students on salary negotiation strategies to narrow the gender wage gap.

In summary, I recognize that the work at cultural humility is ongoing and lifelong. Providing classrooms and a workplace where diversity is respected and individuals are honored is foundational to this vital work. I believe that professors need to not only facilitate a positive and inclusive culture in the classroom but also advocate for institutional changes that better protect marginalized students. Such actions are consistent with my values and aspirations.