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2016-17 Tiger Imprint Showcase

The Division of Diversity and Inclusion’s 2016-2017 Tigers Imprint Showcase highlights a collaborative spirit at RIT and throughout the Greater Rochester community. Our collective work is viewed through the lens of the Inclusive Excellence Framework and its four pillars as we strive to achieve the goals of the 2015-2025 Strategic Plan. RIT will achieve greatness through difference as students, faculty and staff model inclusive excellence.

Tigers demonstrate commitment to building a community that reflects inclusive values and echoes diversity as each individual leverages difference on a daily basis. Teachable moments allow Tigers to share their talents, curiosity, opportunities for development, creativity, points of view, experiences, innovative stories, lessons learned and expertise. We are pleased to share how we’ve imprinted on each other.

Access & Success Pillar

Achieve a more diverse and inclusive undergraduate and graduate student body, faculty, and staff.

(DM III.1.1, DM III.5, DM III.6, DM III.8)

The Rochester City Scholars (RCS) program welcomed 21 students into its 7th class, where 86% of scholars lived on campus. All RCS students from the 6th class returned for their second academic year. Currently, 69 scholars are supported through the RCS program. The scholars are enrolled across all colleges at RIT which reflect their diverse interests and career aspirations.

In fall 2016, the DDI Tutoring Program offered tutoring services for over 35 courses, three nights per week and logged over 100 visits. During the spring, the DDI tutoring program offered tutoring for 44 courses, two nights per week, and logged close to 50 visits. For 2017-2018 the program will be collaborating with student organizations and the MCAS Advocates program to create a stronger partnership for student success.

Fall of 2016, 41 first generation students from the I’m First program were recognized for their academic achievement with appearances on the Dean’s List. With the addition of 27 new students during the 2016-17 academic year, nearly 80% of I’m First students are enrolled in STEM programs. Currently, 46 first generation RIT faculty and staff members serve as mentors to I’m First students. The monthly First Talks series, where first generation faculty/staff share their stories with the campus community, doubled in attendance from last year.

In partnership with the Saunders College of Business and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Rochester, the College, Accounting & You Program continues to offer opportunities for over 40 high school students from various Greater Rochester schools to learn and meet successful professionals. The intention is to expand student interest in the accounting field.

The Multicultural Center for Academic Success (MCAS) welcomed three deaf/hard of hearing students into its 2016 Summer Bridge Program for the first time. In collaboration with NTID, MCAS tailored the academic and social support to meet the needs of all their summer students, reassuring their success for their first academic year.

I’m First’s Career Clothing Open House offered free business attire clothing to over 230 students in an effort to help them make a great first impression during their interviews. Read the stories of several I’m First 2017 graduates.

The MCAS Advocates and MCAS Student Representatives initiative recently launched to engage and empower AALANA students to graduate on time from RIT, while addressing the graduation achievement gap among majority and minority students. Eighteen student representatives were selected to increase the communication and collaboration between MCAS and RIT’s academic units. They successfully executed eight events with 190 students in attendance and leveraging a total of 153 new MCAS students.

The McNair Scholars Program accepted 16 new students in the fall of 2016 and served over 85 students in total during the academic year. Seven McNair Scholars presented their research at the National McNair Scholars Conference at the University of Maryland, College Park in March 2017. Six scholars participated in undergraduate research during the summer of 2016 and ten students completed research at RIT during the spring of 2017.

The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Program (LSAMP), served 86 students during the 2016-17 academic year after accepting 22 new students in the fall. Five LSAMP students presented their research alongside their McNair Scholar peers at the National McNair Scholars Conference at the University of Maryland, College Park in March 2017.

A newly developed MCAS Coaching Framework was implemented to build a consistent footprint while emphasizing several themes and advising strategies as staff work with students: building productive coaching relationships, utilizing empathic listening, finding the “right fit”, and establishing FERPA boundaries.

The Native American Future Stewards Program (FSP), nearing its 10th year, has served over 115 students and is committed to growing a community of Native scholars. RIT awarded a total of seven degrees to American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) students graduating in 2016, four of which were in STEM disciplines.

RIT’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) accepted 18 new freshmen from across NYS in Fall 2016. 100% of freshmen who started in Fall 2016 were retained for Spring 2017. In addition, 97% of freshmen who started in fall of 2015 were retained to fall of 2016. During the 2016/2017 academic year, four students studied abroad and 52% of all students earned HEOP Honors.

After adding a new cohort of 19 students, the Men of Color, Honor, and Ambition (MOCHA) program completed its fourth year. Each student participated in a series of monthly workshops offered by faculty, staff, and community leaders, fostering a sense of community and bonding with each other and other male role models of color. Interpersonal connections were cultivated through social outings and events that support health awareness and both personal and professional development.

HEOP students advocated for more funding and shared their success with government officials. Read more about their Extensive Letter-Writing Campaign.

The Determined Individuals Victoriously Achieving Success (DIVAS) program supported 14 multicultual women students during the 2016-2017 academic year. DIVAS are encouraged to build lasting relationships, cultivate academic achievement and develop leadership skills that will last a lifetime. The average grade point average of the DIVAS membership is 3.5 with a 100% graduation rate. Four DIVAS graduated from RIT in the spring of 2017.

The Office for Faculty Recruitment (OFR) hosted their 13th Annual Future Faculty Career Exploration Program on Sept. 28 - Oct. 1, 2016. Over 140 applications were received from 69 different universities across the US and around the world. Ultimately, RIT selected 15 scholars to join the FFCEP Class of 2016.

During its second year, the Women of Color, Honor, and Ambition (WOCHA) program selected nine new women to participate in the 2016-17 cohort. WOCHA women participated in the United Way CHAIRity event, benefiting the Ibero American Action League. Through a series of planned events and interactions with women mentors, these students engaged in a year-long program designed to enhance their leadership ability, build comradery, and provide access to mentorship and networking opportunities.

Partnering with the Division of Academic Affairs we launched the Future Faculty Fellowship, a two-year post-terminal degree program aimed at increasing the number of historically underrepresented minorities and women tenure-track faculty at RIT.

Campus Climate & Intergroup Relations Pillar

Create and sustain an organizational environment that acknowledges and celebrates diversity and employs inclusive practices throughout its daily operations.

(DM III.9)

In October 2016, Arshay Cooper, author of Suga Water, spoke with RIT students about his book, which shook the affluent world of crew with the first all-black high school rowing team in the US from the Westside of Chicago.

Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) kickoff was held in September 2016 at Global Village to celebrate the history and commemorate the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans at RIT. Nearly 300 people attended the HHM kickoff event.

Native American Heritage Month was kicked off with traditional music, crafts, food and a discussion with Ganondagan Program Director Jeanette Miller. The keynote for the November celebration featured Native American designer Jared Yazzie (OXDX Clothing), who held a fashion show and discussed the importance and meaning of his work. Jared also spoke to an RIT communication class and discussed the depiction of Native people in the American mass media, while addressing current issues impacting Native communities. It was great to have close to 200 people celebrating together!

During Black History Month, RIT students saw the screening of Oscar-nominated “I Am Not Your Negro” written by James Baldwin, directed by Raoul Peck and voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. Filmmaker Raoul Peck, envisioned the book James Baldwin never finished, resulting in a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and a flood of rich archival material. Concluding with a captivating community panel discussion on the race, how current local/national events shape our culture and pointedly sharing the atrocities on the racial climate through the lens of the media/social media.

RIT’s campus was fired-up with Step Afrika!, a step dance company founded in 1994. Performing in March due to weather challenges in February as a feature for Black History Month. Their performances are much more than dance shows; they integrate songs, storytelling, humor, and encourage audience participation. The blend of techniques, agility, and pure energy makes each performance unique and left the audience with their hearts pounding.

The Future Stewards Program and the Native American Student Association (NASA) celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day, by collaborating with Student Government, the RIT Italian Club and the Brothers of Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, Inc. to share perspectives and cultures through student-made posters, interactive activities and ample discussions with 42 attendees.

Bridges, a four-part multicultural competency program provided for faculty and staff through the Center for Professional Development, was implemented for its fourth successful year. The program helps participants develop greater sensitivity regarding the needs of our increasingly complex populations at RIT, and their multicultural needs both in and out of the classroom. During the past year, 207 faculty and staff attended the programs and 17 certificates were earned.

In partnership, Diversity Theater and Student Affairs crafted and offered One Class, Many Stories, a workshop which examined diversity and inclusion themes through personal stories shared by RIT students and small group discussions. Overall, 3,000 new student and orientation leaders participated.

For the first time in 25 years, the lyrics of the RIT alma mater were changed to be more inclusive of the transgender, agender, genderqueer, and nonbinary members of the RIT community.

Diversity Theater partnered with ADVANCE RIT and True Story Theater from Boston to create the Advanced Bystander Awareness workshop where more than 50 participants attended and strongly agreed they can make a difference in making the campus more inclusive by being active bystanders.

Diversity Theater partnered with the College of Science (COS), Women in Science (WISe) program to create and present Unconscious Bias Awareness workshops for the 2016 incoming class of 250 new COS students.

RIT celebrated the 35th Annual Expressions of King’s Legacy with keynote speaker Fredericka Whitfield, weekend anchor of CNN Newsroom, the Fisk Jubilee Singers and Judge Robert L. Wilkins, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit and the author of the book, Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100-year mission to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture with over 570 people in attendance. The celebration concluded with An Evening of Music at the packed Third Presbyterian Church, with international opera singer Kearstin Piper Brown and the Chancel Choir of the Third Presbyterian Church.

Diversity & Inclusion is now included in the Points of Pride for RIT.


Education & Scholarship Pillar

Engage students, faculty, and staff in learning varied perspectives of domestic and global diversity, inclusion, and social justice.

(DM III.2, DM III.3, DM III.4)

Race Talks, a program in its second year, is a series of group discussions focused on increasing greater awareness around racial stereotypes, sensitizing awareness of racial oppression in the United States, and encouraging dialogue between faculty, staff and students in a safe environment. During the past year, approximately 173 faculty and staff attended the programs.

Gray Matter includes monthly discussions at the MOSAIC Center throughout the Fall and Spring semesters focusing on topics of technology, inclusiveness, mental health, drug, parenting, politics and sex, and technology. The organizing committee through feedback from faculty, staff and students, and admistrators, keeps its finger on the pulse of the institution in selecting the topics for each semester.

Read Between the Lines is a continuing series incorporating a learning and discussion experience in which faculty, staff, and students participate in a diversity focused book. The fall semester book of choice was Whistling Vivaldi (Steele, 2001), and the Spring semester book of choice was The New Jim Crow (Alexander, 2003). During the past year, 33 faculty, staff, and students were enrolled in the programs.

The Division for Diversity & Inclusion’s Celebration of Excellence, recognized the collective accomplishments and undertakings of our students, faculty, alumni and our division’s work towards diversity and inclusion with a dynamic end of the year ceremony with over 300 attendees.

The Future Stewards Program was a key partner for the Symposium on American Indian Languages. This annual event brings together members of the American Indian community and academia to discuss the issues impacting American Indian Languages. More than 70 language scholars and members of tribal nations attended. This year’s event recognized the service of Mohawak Code Talker Louis Levi Oaks, with the establishment of the Louis Levi Oaks Award for American Indian Language Preservation. This annual recognition will be awarded to individuals who contribute to the preservation of native languages.

Melisza Campos, Vice President of Instruction and Carnegie Master for the Dale Carnegie Rochester office was RIT’s 25th Minett Professor for 2016-17 focusing on the T -Shape model in building skills of empathy and collaboration to harness innovation.

Unconscious Bias Training Sessions for Search Committees was comprised of six training programs for faculty and staff within RIT.

A Brown Bag Lunch Series was piloted in the spring semester as a weekly opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to discuss diversity issues of their own choosing in an open forum. Approximately different 15 faculty, staff, and students attended the program over the course of the spring semester.

This past year, the research outcomes of a faculty Inclusive Grant Proposal were highlighted at the Faculty & Research program, in the Spring semester. Inclusive Grants are awarded in response to faculty and staff proposals each year, in an effort to generate unique RIT-unique/specific diversity research initiatives. The topic of the research: Admissions Practices that Increase Diversity in Graduate Programs.


Institutional Infrastructure Pillar

Create and sustain an institutional infrastructure that effectively supports progress in achieving diversity goals in the University strategic plan.

(DM III.7, DM III.10)

RIT is a 2016 Diversity Champion and one of the first colleges and universities in the nation to receive this designation. RIT has also been recognized with the 2016 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, for the third time in a row –from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine who recognizes the colleges and universities who are most dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive campus environment.

The RIT Board of Trustees has an ongoing strategic Diversity Committee comprised of trustees and campus leaders focused on elevating and evaluating the RIT climate and working to create a transformational culture to ignite the values of inclusion.

Five faculty/staff presenters volunteered to co-present the Bridges programs throughout the year.

The Office for Faculty Recruitment partnered with Human Resources (HR) to offer five training sessions on the Faculty Search Committee Process.

We continued to support collaborate and partner with the Facing Race and Embracing Equity (FR=EE) Initiative in the Rochester Community.

In February 2017, RIT received the Summit Emerging Media Leader Award for the creative re-design of the university’s Division for Diversity and Inclusion website. RIT’s University Web Services and Office for Diversity and Inclusion team members were given the national award in recognition of the new site’s ease of use, vibrant images and informative content.

In May 2017, RIT received the 2017 Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts Communicator Award in the Category: Social Responsibility. The Communicator Awards are sanctioned and judged by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, an invitation-only group consisting of top-tier professionals from acclaimed media, communications, advertising, creative and marketing firms. Airtype Studio, Big Spaceship, Conde Nast, Coach, Disney, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Estee Lauder, Fry Hammond Barr, Lockheed Martin, MTV Networks, Pitney Bowes, rabble+rouser, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Time, Inc, Victoria’s Secret, Wired, and Yahoo!


During the 2016-2017 academic year, our most fierce tigers decided to start a new chapter in their lives, called retirement. President Bill Destler and Dr. Rebecca Johnson are leaders who’ve sparked curiosity, social justice, innovation, authenticity and respect at RIT. These tigers have been invaluable by engaging individuals and elevating the importance of Diversity and Inclusion. Take an opportunity to see more below about the imprints and legacy they had in our community. Go tigers!

Working in Harmony: A Tribute to President Bill Destler and Dr. Rebecca Johnson

Imagine a Legacy: The Destler Era at RIT

Personal Reflections: Honoring President Bill Destler


I always wanted to do research and learn new things. Being a McNAIR and LSAMP student I was able to accomplish my goals. This program helped me to grow and succeed not only in research but in my classes as well. It allowed me to gain hands on experience for working in Lab.  Faculty and staff in program are very helpful and caring. McNair/LSAMP program at RIT gave me great opportunities such as summer research, presenting research at national McNAIR Conference in Maryland. I will always be grateful to McNAIR for helping me to grow and giving me confidence to face real world.


Although it has only been a year, RIT has become my community and the Chem-E Department my home. The professors are kind and willing to help; even professors I have not yet had. MCAS (Multicultural Center for Academic Success) has also been a huge part of my support system. I joined the RIT chapters AICHE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) and NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) to get involved outside the classroom, and volunteered with WE@RIT. The professional organizations exposed me to fellow engineering students of all disciplines. Through WE@RIT, I introduced high school girls to engineering and all that RIT has to offer. I look forward to future experiences such as going on my first co-op. I know upon graduation I will be prepared to begin my career as a successful Chemical Engineer. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I love RIT, GO TIGERS!!! 


I have truly enjoyed my time here at RIT.  It is a very comfortable and welcoming environment. RIT has taken a holistic approach to address a variety of issues related to diversity, pluralism and inclusiveness. It is evident that this approach is valued by all of the stakeholders, from the board of trustees and the president right down to the students.  Diversity is ingrained in the RIT culture and it plays an integral role in who we are.  As a faculty member, I have avenues for peer impact and mentoring through the AALANA Faculty Advisory Council and the AALANA Faculty Associate to the various mentoring programs in my home College (Science). RIT has created numerous opportunities for me to be supported and to be advocated for throughout my career. 


The Future Stewards Program has played a huge role in my career at RIT. I became dedicated to attending RIT while taking part in a Future Steward's sponsored campus visit the Summer before my junior year of high school. I along with other students from Salamanca, NY, located on the Allegany Indian Reservation of the Seneca Nation of Indians, were hosted by Future Steward's staff and introduced to the support services offered and the educational programs offered at RIT.

The Future Stewards Program has created a community that is welcoming to Indigenous students of all backgrounds, and has established support for students that are disconnected from their culture while transitioning to RIT. Personally, I have benefited most from the various research opportunities that FSP has introduced me to, as well as the conferences and symposiums I have been able to attend and present my research at.

Additionally, Future Steward's introduced me to the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and provided opportunities such as attending the AISES National Conference multiple times. By attending the conference I’ve been able to network with companies in my field and present research. This past year, I received a co-op for this summer and fall, and I also received an award for my research presentation on “Capturing Human-Planned Robotic Grasp Ranges.” These experiences have been vital in preparing me for graduate school, as I continue to build a strong research background in my field (Math/Computer Science) and network with others in academia.


After only one year at RIT, I know that this is my home. Because of the amazing support from MCAS (Multicultural Center for Academic Success) and most certainly from the Rochester City Scholars Initiative, my college experience has been unparalleled, with help at every corner for almost any problem I may face. Since finishing my first semester, I have achieved a higher GPA than I would ever have expected, met some of the most wonderful people I have ever known, and realized what I am truly capable of accomplishing. Thanks to the Rochester City Scholars initiative, all of this became a financial possibility for me and my family! I look forward to seeing where I’ll go next here at RIT, and what new possibilities will become realities in my future. I know that when I graduate, I will be a young professional, fully prepared for the life ahead of me. Thank you, RCS Initiative, and thank you, RIT!


I applaud the efforts the Office of Faculty Recruitment have made to diversify our university. An underlying thread in RIT’s 2025 strategic plan, entitled “Greatness Through Difference,” recognizes the power of diversity to shape the future of higher education as well as the students we serve. High priority elements of the plan include decreasing the achievement gap among minority students, increasing AALANA graduation rates, and establishing RIT as a model of inclusive excellence for faculty and staff. To support these goals, RIT has developed innovative faculty recruitment strategies that seek to increase the number of historically underrepresented minorities and women faculty.  The Future Faculty Career Exploration Program (FFCEP) and the new Future Faculty Fellowship are both aimed at diversifying the RIT faculty while ensuring their professional success.  FFCEP participants acknowledge the many benefits of participating-including cultural insight into our university, opportunities to share research and connections, and to see first-hand RIT’s commitment to diversity.


Transition from community college to four-year institute was challenging but Being part of McNair/LSAMP program I was able to gain experience and confidence. I have always been passionate to do research and through this program I’m the getting real world experience in this field. I was able to present my research at McNair national conference. Staff in this program is very helpful and have played great role in my path to success.


When I applied to the Rochester Institute of Technology, my high school counselor suggested I apply for the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). I had no clue what it was going to be or what kinds of benefits the program had for students. My first year at RIT, HEOP was crucial to my academic success. I struggled with a couple of my classes, and I was fortunate enough to get a tutor, who met with me one on one a few times a week, so I can better understand the material that was being taught. HEOP has always been prepared to battle with their students, through academic difficulties and even personal matters. They have always been a huge family, because of the care put into our success. During the 6-week summer program right before the academic year, you meet everyone who you will probably speak to your entire 4 years of college. All different types of people, from all walks of life. I have always been able to count on my HEOP family for help, guidance, and just support in my endeavors. It has been such an honor being a part of the program.


Funded through a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant (NSF  209115), AdvanceRIT is a long-term, multi-faceted project designed to increase the representation and enhance career advancement of women faculty at RIT in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines which include social and behavioral science. The Office of Faculty Recruitment is a vital partner of AdvanceRIT. Together, the team examines the unique challenges experienced by women faculty of color and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing faculty, and adapts interventions to address the needs of these key sub-populations. Combining research with programming, policy and practice enhancements drive long-term changes that are transforming RIT’s culture, promoting inclusion, and expanding the representation of women on our faculty and among our campus leadership.  Our institutional transformation project as well as our university 2015-2025 strategic plan, Greatness Through Difference, provides us with a unique opportunity to reimagine our careers and our campus culture.  The Office of Faculty Recruitment plays a vital role in our continuing pursuit of embodying inclusivity as a core value.  The office serves as a leader on our campus and throughout the United States in promoting diversity within faculty hiring.  Over the years, it has successfully influenced RIT faculty search and hire practices in order to reduce unconscious bias and support the hiring of an excellent and inclusive community of new RIT faculty.


When considering where to go to college, RIT was the choice. I didn’t apply anywhere else. I knew this was where I wanted to be. Now, in my last semester, as I reflect on my time here, I know I made the best choice. As a Rochester City Scholar, I was provided a support network through the Multicultural Center for Academic Success (MCAS) from my first day on campus. The office provided me with an opportunity through the Summer Bridge Program to learn how to study, manage my time, connect with professors, and make lasting friendships. MCAS has been my biggest supporter while I’ve been here, and has made college feel like a much easier task than it really is. Now, through MOCHA (Men of Color, Honor, and Ambition), I have been handed an opportunity to push myself even further professionally with a group of individuals committed to succeeding in life. I came to RIT expecting a great education, and am leaving with so much more than I could have ever imagined.  


My first involvement with RIT started in 2009 with the Future Faculty Career Exploration Program.  I didn’t know anything about RIT at the time so I was open minded with the opportunity.  The experience during FFCEP was very enlightening and showed me the potential of being a faculty member at a top university.  After FFCEP, I had the opportunity to undertake a unique opportunity where I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Chemical Engineering department undertaking tasks normally reserved for a tenure-track faculty.  Success during the postdoctoral experience led to me transitioning to a tenure-track positon.  The experience was amazing and truly helped me become the professor that I am today.  The mentoring given to me from my postdoctoral experience to today has been invaluable and I cannot say I would have the level of success that I have achieved without the mentors in my department.  I value the doors FFCEP opened for me and give back by taking part in the program to help others understand the rewards a tenure-track faculty position provides them.  In the end, I can truly say that I have enjoyed every moment of my time at RIT.