Feb. 15, 2012

New diversity approach stresses flexibility, accountability

Jason Koski/University Photography
Diversity officers, from left, Yael Levitte, A.T. Miller, Sheri Notaro, Renee Alexander and Lynette Chappell-Williams.

Today, President David Skorton reaffirmed the university's commitment to diversity in a message to faculty, staff and students. This commitment, he said, is "central to the university's founding vision," "remains a core value of Cornell" and is a key goal of the university's 2010-15 strategic plan. He and Provosts Kent Fuchs and Laurie Glimcher are now directing the development of explicit diversity goals -- through the University Diversity Council (UDC) -- across all university populations to which units and departments will be held accountable, Skorton said.

The UDC has been restructured to represent a wider breadth of the campus community and to incorporate a new approach called "Toward New Destinations." It allows colleges and units to tailor their diversity initiatives, based on institutional goals, to their particular needs. The restructuring also includes a new emphasis on measuring results.

"We've developed a wide range of initiatives and goals that will help guide the colleges and units in their endeavors," said Skorton, who with Fuchs and Glimcher, dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and provost for medical affairs, is leading the UDC. "Together, these goals and initiatives represent the full reach of Cornell's commitment to diversity and inclusion, while the new UDC provides a model of collective leadership and professional expertise that I believe will significantly further our engagement in diversity."

The university's deans and vice presidents will be asked to choose five diversity initiatives each year that best suit their needs and strategic plans and to report on their progress at year's end.

The approach includes diversity initiatives that are grouped by the core principles of:

The restructured UDC includes five diversity officers:

These diversity officers will formulate policy, evaluate progress, identify opportunities and locate areas of concern within their areas of responsibility, and view diversity concerns at the university as a whole.

The UDC also comprises the senior leaders to whom these diversity officers report:

Marin Clarkberg, director for institutional research and planning, is also a member of the UDC.