Renee Baker, executive director of faculty recruitment and retention, is the 2010 recipient of the Isaac L. Jordan Faculty/Staff Pluralism Award. The award is given to a faculty or staff person at Rochester Institute of Technology for his or her commitment to diversity and inclusion at the university and within the Rochester community.
“I am honored to receive this award. I feel like I am walking in my purpose,” Baker said to those assembled at the May 11 ceremony. “This is something I am very passionate about. I thank all of you for showing your commitment and embracing this, for understanding the importance of relationship building and partnering around the work we all do.”
Baker, a Rochester resident, joined the RIT staff in 2002. She developed the Future Faculty Career Exploration Program to recruit diverse faculty candidates, specifically those underrepresented at the university from the African-American, Latino-American and Native American communities. The program has grown under her leadership and is widely recognized for its process of outreach and relationship building that has seen the number of diverse faculty recruited and hired double in her tenure.
“Renee’s nominations all tout her outstanding professional characteristics— dedicated, hardworking, professional, personal commitment. Then there are the personal accolades—enthusiastic, selfless, a woman of faith,” says Kim Ramsey-White, co-chair of the President’s Commission on Pluralism and Inclusion, sponsor of the annual award.
“I know her as a mentor, as a woman of strong character, who says what she means and means what she says. As a result of her staunch commitment to following through and sometimes expecting accountability, RIT has been lauded locally and nationally as the model for improving faculty diversity,” she adds.
At RIT, Baker served on the President’s Commission on Women, the Gender and Race Bias Task Force and established the Provost’s Changing Hearts and Minds Award. Outside of RIT, Baker is regularly asked to speak at other colleges about establishing a faculty recruitment program as well as a variety of human resource topics. She is involved in her church, Rhema Life Community, where she sings, leads a worship team, attends bible study and works with the young women in the parish on leadership and educational opportunities.
While Baker recognized many in the audience for supporting her and for their efforts to support diversity at RIT, Baker acknowledged Cassandra Jordan, director of the Student Heath Center. The award is named after Cassandra Jordan’s late husband, Isaac, who was the first chair of the President's Commission on Pluralism and Inclusion. The award celebrates those in the RIT community who work to provide leadership in advancing pluralism and inclusion, and to perpetuate a legacy of truth and justice.