Jerome Underwood, senior director of Youth Development and Family Services for the Rochester City School District, was named the 2015-2016 Frederick H. Minett Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. He began this fall at the university.
The Minett Professorship brings distinguished Rochester-area multicultural professionals to the RIT campus to share their professional knowledge and experience with RIT’s students, faculty and staff for one academic year. Minett Professors are appointed by RIT President Bill Destler and Kevin McDonald, RIT’s vice president and associate provost for Diversity and Inclusion.
“RIT is excited and fortunate to have Jerome as part of our community this academic year,” said McDonald. “His long-standing commitment to the City of Rochester’s youth and their families will be invaluable to him, as he attempts to increase the number of students in RIT’s Rochester City Scholarship pipeline.”
In his role Minett Professor, Underwood will focus on helping to expand the Rochester City Scholars Program, educating students, families and counselors throughout the district about the Rochester City Scholarship initiative offered by RIT. Full-tuition scholarships are given to entering full-time freshmen from the school district and the city’s charter schools who meet eligibility requirements.
Underwood also will participate in several academic support initiatives, specifically MOCHA, the Men of Color, Honor and Ambition Program established by McDonald and RIT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. MOCHA is a one-year academic, professional and leadership development series for undergraduate male students of color.
“It is an honor to have been chosen as the 2015-16 Minett Professor. I will use this platform to create and expand higher education opportunities for the young people who attend the Rochester City School District, particularly via RIT’s Rochester City Scholars Program,” said Underwood. “In addition, I will also use my tenure to promote the necessity for culturally responsive teaching and learning at all education levels, which will result in better outcomes for students and their families.”
Underwood manages the Youth Development & Family Services Division that provides oversight for the Office of Parent Engagement, the district’s Attendance Improvement Initiative, Camp Good Days Leadership Camp, and issues relating to black male achievement. The scope of his function includes strategic planning, management, budgeting and ensuring that the necessary resources, services and continuing professional development are available to managers at all levels. Previously, he enjoyed successful careers as a chief financial officer in business process outsourcing and commercial banking.
He attended St. John Fisher College, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. Underwood continued his education at RIT, attaining his master’s degree in finance in 2001. He is the immediate past board chair for the local non-profit organization, Action for a Better Community, a position he held for seven years.