2021-2022 Tiger Imprint Showcase

The Division of Diversity and Inclusion (DDI) is pleased to share the 2021-2022 Tiger Imprint Showcase. It highlights various accomplishments this academic year which support the mission and strategic plan of the university through the four dimensions of people, programs, places and partnerships. It also includes all national recognitions we have received that affirms RIT’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

DDI works collaboratively to lead diversity and inclusion efforts.

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The RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity highlights RIT’s commitment to look at and “address systemic racial inequities and injustices” and to enhance a “sense of belonging “among students, staff, and faculty in various ways. Among examples this year, the RIT Board of Trustees and President’s Administrative Council took part in an Intercultural Development Inventory; the Student Success Steering Committee took up the charge to explore barriers and unique contributors to AALANA student success with forthcoming report this summer, 2022; a campus-wide Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey was administered; and planning began for Together RIT: A Day of Understanding, Solidarity and Racial Reconciliation, to be held October 21, 2022. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni have an opportunity to come together and delve deeper in discussions about race, ethnicity, and racism. Further, Rochester Institute of Technology entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) officially entered into on the 21st day of January 2022, supporting efforts to build relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Finally, discussions with groups of students, staff, faculty, alumni and the Rochester community continue regarding a Center for Race and Justice.  

National Recognition

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For its commitment to diversity & inclusion in 2021-2022, RIT was recognized nationally with the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award (8th time); named a 2021 Diversity Champion by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine (7th time); and RIT was listed in the “Top 200 Colleges for Native Americans” in the American Indian Science and Engineering Society’s Winds of Change magazine (11th time).


Where Creativity Begins

This year the Division of Diversity and Inclusion led the campus-wide planning and execution of three RIT signature events taking place in November 2021 and in January 2022.

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The 10th annual Veterans Day Breakfast had the feel of a “family reunion” with many familiar faces returning to the RIT campus, including Dr. Albert Simone, the 8th president of RIT. He presented the Lifetime Service Award to Dr. Barry Culhane, a veteran, former executive assistant to the president and founder of the breakfast. Also returning to campus, veteran and RIT alum Thomas L. Peeples ’94, MS ’03 who was the keynote speaker. He was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy while at RIT and continues to serve in uniform today as the Operations Officer of the Ohio Navy. The Service after Service Award was presented to Eric Wheeler, assistant director of Veteran Services at Monroe Community College. Miranda Gray, a Veterans Upward Bound graduate and veteran of the Iraq War, received the Veterans Upward Bound Student Award. RIT military service members on campus were acknowledged during the breakfast and five student veterans were formally awarded stipends from L3Harris. 

And special recognition is given to Air Force ROTC Detachment 538 at RIT. Just a few days after the breakfast, it was announced it has been named the “Right of Line Medium-Size Detachment of the Year.” This is the highest recognition given to an AFROTC detachment.

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More than 850 people attended the 40th Annual Expressions of King’s Legacy Celebration in the Gordon Field House. We welcomed Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr, Harvard professor and host of the award winning PBS program “Finding Your Roots” as keynote speaker. With “legacy” as the theme, DDI’s Marketing and Communications team created a special video to open the program. Members of the RIT community were asked to submit their own photograph and one featuring a member or members of their own family. Many responded. The result was a stirring video photo collage with the music from “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as audio.

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The 5th Annual Let Freedom Ring program showcased the great bass-baritone singer and activist William Warfield who lived in Rochester. Warfield’s nephew, RIT Director of Dance, Thomas Warfield, was the keynote speaker. RIT collaborated with other local entities and artist Shawn Dunwoody to create a bronze bust of Warfield which is on display in downtown Rochester.  The process is captured in a mini-documentary produced by RIT’s Creative Video Production group. 

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Near the end of the academic year, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion held a reception to honor the Class of 2022 Destler/Johnson Rochester City Scholars. Since its inception in 2010 over 100 Rochester City Scholars have graduated from RIT. Following that, DDI’s 6th Annual Celebration of Excellence was held in Ingle Auditorium with Faculty and Staff Beacon Awards presented as well as honors for numerous RIT students. A special recognition was made in honor of the late James Macchiano whose vision led to the creation of the Celebration of Excellence.

Read more about a Destler/Johnson RCS graduate here

The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) was refunded at RIT for academic years 2021-2025. The program started recruiting students at the start of spring semester, and ended the semester with 80 active members. CSTEP students attended workshops on funding graduate school, resume writing, summer research, the graduate school application process, and more. Students took advantage of program funding to attend the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) conference, Society of Women Engineers Conference, and other professional development opportunities. This summer, 11 CSTEP students partaking in a research-intensive experience, will spend 10 weeks doing full-time funded research with RIT faculty and present their research at the RIT Undergraduate Research Symposium on July 28. 

The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), serving 102 low income diverse students, sustained level funding from the NY State Education Department (SP People 1 and 2). HEOP enrolled 22 new freshmen and three new transfers from across NY State for the 2020-21 academic year; retained 100% of students who started in fall 2019 and 100% of students who started in fall 2020; cheered over 60% of 2020-21 graduates who have secured professional employment or graduate school placement.

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The Multicultural Center for Academic Success (MCAS) engaged in several initiatives this academic year including Embedded Counseling with Dr. Odessa Despot with 70 BIPOC students taking part. A dozen students participated in a “Black Mental Health Matters” conference. MCAS and HEOP worked collaboratively to host-virtually- the long-standing DDI Summer Experience program. It is a four week academic program that offers credit-bearing courses, academic enrichment, and various community-building activities. (See more information under DDI Summer Experience below). MCAS welcomed a new class of students into the Destler/Johnson Rochester City Scholars Program (see more under Partnerships). MCAS hosted a virtual half-day MCAS Professional Development Conference for 30 students with sessions focused on wellness, academic success, and balancing personal and professional goals sessions. The MCAS Mentoring Program provided 14 students a peer-to-peer model with upper-class students connecting with underclassman. The DDI Tutoring Program supported 32 students, with five peer tutors. The RIT student leadership program, Men of Color, Honor and Ambition (MOCHA) welcomed its 8th cohort of 20 students, and Women of Color, Honor and Ambition (WOCHA) welcomed 16 students into it 6th cohort this year.

Division of Diversity and Inclusion Summer Experience- Eighty five students participated in the MCAS and HEOP virtual DDI Summer Experience this year. The incoming first-year RIT students took a three-credit class and received individual coaching and nightly assistant sessions. They received information on academic success strategies and took part in weekly social programs.

The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, currently serving 33 students, accepted 9 new students in spring 2022. Six LSAMP students participated in in-person undergraduate research at RIT during the summer of 2021, including two LSAMP students from Monroe Community College. Six additional students completed research at RIT during the academic year.

Read more about a McNair Scholars/ LSAMP study abroad experience within the feature here 

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DDI Marketing and Communication continues to reach populations at RIT and beyond as evidenced by the website (55,396 users with 106,993 page views), newsletter (fall 2021, 6,393 views and spring 2022, 5,634 views), and Tiger Imprint Showcase “DDI Annual Report” (268 views) traffic. DDI MARCOM also published nine DDI newsletters from September 2021-May 2022 that included a total of 62 articles. MARCOM produced a series of “Difference Makers” which weekly highlight individual RIT faculty and staff during Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, Black Heritage Month and Women’s History Month. Four advertorials were submitted to INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine and published. They focused on RIT as a recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity ( HEED ) Award, the expansion work at Saunders College of Business, the work by RIT’s Office of Faculty Diversity and Recruitment to “grow diversity” and RIT’s Military/Veterans Upward Bound program.

The McNair Scholars Program accepted 13 new students in spring 2022 and serves 40 students who plan to attend graduate school. McNair also had 11 scholars participate in in-person undergraduate research at RIT during the summer of 2021 and 20 additional students completed research at RIT during the academic year. 

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The Native American Future Stewards Program (FSP) served approximately 35 American Indian and Alaska Native students this year with intentional programming and support meetings. RIT’s American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) chapter members attended the 2021 AISES National Conference in Phoenix, AZ and AISES built new partnerships with local high schools that have high proportions of Native students. In conjunction with the Minett Professorship, RIT AISES, and the Native American Student Association, the Future Stewards Program implemented a variety of Indigenous focused events throughout the year for the RIT campus, including Indigenous Peoples Day Game Night, Stories from the People of the Longhouse, a Rethinking Thanksgiving Lecture and Frybread n’ Friends.

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The NTID Office of Diversity & Inclusion welcomed two new employees in November 2021: Aaron Pagan, RIT/NTID alum, is our Marketing Communications Specialist who focuses on providing accessible videos to the NTID community and growing ODI’s website and social media presence. Erica Scorpio is the NTID ALANA Staff Retention Specialist focusing on advocating for and supporting NTID’s BIPOC community through programs and events such as the Black History Month Potluck Luncheon Celebration, Ethnic Fest, and BIPOC Gathering. The NTID Faculty Program for Academia changed its’ name to the NTID Faculty Fellowship (NFF). NFF has expanded the number of fellows from three to six, brought in another faculty mentor, and is developing a new organizational structure. The Antiracism Scholarship Fund awarded three grants for: Anti-Racism in Deaf Theater Online Convening, Antiracist Writing Pedagogy, and the BIPOC Finance Awareness Program. NTID Antiracism and Social Justice Plan continues to be a top priority with targeted goals completed.

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The Office of Faculty Diversity and Recruitment (OFDR) hosted 21 scholars in its 18th annual Future Faculty Career Exploration Program (FFCEP), this year virtually. More than 33% of admitted 2021 FFCEP applicants derived from OFDR engaged institutions. OFDR also expanded its Pathways to RIT program, a virtual “academic open house," that helps scholars and artists who will soon be on the job market, better understand RIT and the Greater Rochester area. This expansion was coupled with participation by the Gosnell College of Life Sciences along with the College of Art and Design. Each session drew 72 discipline-specific participants, along with numerous faculty members and their respective Deans, serving as hosts. OFDR expanded its inaugural I am RIT Faculty campaign that highlights and celebrates our diverse faculty. Fourteen faculty members took part. OFDR shattered its goal of engaging 600 scholars into our Scholars Network by 44% (we have 866 graduate scholars in our network since late September 2019). This comes in addition to continued cultivation of Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI) and Predominately White Institutions (PWI) producing the highest numbers of women and AALANA graduate scholars in the areas we serve. OFDR continued its pursuit of engaging prospective faculty and for the first time, OFDR participated in the 2021 Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) virtual conference, where we were met with more than 260+ participants in our session. Finally, OFDR’s efforts drew the attention of scholars, who featured our outreach approach in the 2021 book, “Academic Pipeline Programs: Diversifying Pathways from the Bachelor’s to the Professoriate.

RIT Scholarships & Awards

The TransDigm Group Inc. scholarship pledge of $750,000 to the Division of Diversity and Inclusion awarded five AALANA and/or female students a $10,000 scholarship each in spring 2021 and a second group of five AALANA and/or female students a $10,000 scholarship each in spring 2022.

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The prestigious Isaac L. Jordan Sr. Faculty & Staff Pluralism Awards for outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion practices were presented to Robert Osgood, associate professor of microbiology in the College of Health Science and Technology and Luke Auburn, senior communications specialist in University Communications. The Isaac L. Jordan Sr. Endowed Fund provided two scholarships to RIT freshman Drew Young and RIT upperclassman Adean Frank for their leadership and commitment to pluralism.

Frederick Douglass Scholarships were awarded to four AALANA students- Mateo Alexander, Aedan Frank, Andrew Le and Laylah Vital.


Innovating Across the University

Diversity Education continued to offer and expand on initiatives and programs to engage RIT employees and students. There was also an increase in departmental and divisional requests for training in their areas. In February 2022, we hired Stella Lee, Assistant Director of Diversity Education, to lead our strategic efforts to better engage our undergraduates in diversity education outside of the classroom. The 5-year employee participation goal of 65% for faculty and staff in at least one diversity education initiative or program continues to be assessed despite the high turnover on campus this past year. Overall, 1,794 employees or approximately 47% of RIT employees have engaged in diversity education programming the past three years (based on the total employee count in the inaugural year). Standout programs include the Cultural Humility Certificate Program, Inclusive Hiring Training, and What’s Your Diversity program. 

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Diversity Theater’s Brick by Brick Film & Workshop: Building Bridges of Understanding, One Brick at a time, continued to be part of the Division of Student Affairs’ RIT 365 course for all new freshmen in partnership with Student Affairs. Diversity Theater is a strategic partner with the College of Science and the Inclusive Excellence Leadership Team, for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence grant initiatives. Diversity Theater designed and delivered workshops for COS search committees to increase inclusive committee practices and partnered with the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs to develop and deliver our annual professional development workshop, “Effective Communications: Difficult Conversations and Conflict Resolution,” for new department chairs and school heads. Diversity Theater produced its second short film, Dear Eleanor, in partnership with MAGIC Spell Studios. The 35-member predominately student film crew worked alongside industry professionals for the 4-day production filmed at the National War Plane Museum. The film premiered at the end of the spring semester.

Read more about Dear Eleanor here 


Facilitating Creativity (MOSAIC Center)

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Making our Space an Inclusive Community (MOSAIC Center) is on the second floor of the Student Alumni Union. It is a “home away from home” for students where members of student clubs like the Latin American Student Association, Organization of African Students and the Black Awareness Coordinating Committee can meet. Faculty and staff also use MOSAIC for meetings. If you would like to reserve the space go to reserve.rit.edu.


Extending Our Reach and Serving the World

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The Minett Professorship celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. To mark this milestone, a plaque is dedicated in honor of the Minett Professors that will be displayed in a prominent location on the RIT Campus. It reads, “In recognition of the 30th anniversary of the Frederick H. Minett Professorship established at RIT in 1991. Our profound thanks to these distinguished Rochester area multicultural professionals who share their expertise with RIT students, faculty and staff. Connecting education, industry and diversity.” In addition, a Minett group photograph was taken at a special luncheon where the plaque was unveiled.

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Minett professors spend one academic year at RIT. This year Perry Ground, Turtle Clan, was appointed to this position. He shared his knowledge of Native American history and culture through storytelling and teaching two courses in the College of Liberal Arts during the spring semester.  DDI also highlighted the 30th anniversary by producing a series of profiles in the DDI monthly newsletter featuring former Minett Professors who wrote about their experiences. Another noteworthy mention: Through the support of the Minett Professors themselves, the Minett Professors Endowed fund reached the $25,000 “cash in the door” goal and has received more than $70,000 in pledges towards their overall goal of raising $100,000.

Read more about Minett Professor Perry Ground here

Destler/Johnson Rochester City Scholars & Davitt Scholars

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This year 25 students were welcomed into the 12th cohort of the Destler/Johnson Rochester City Scholars program. The program, founded in 2010 by former RIT President Bill Destler and his wife Rebecca Johnson, provides tuition and academic support to students in the Rochester City School District and charter schools. For RCS Scholars who want to pursue advanced degrees, support is available through the Mark and Maureen Davitt Graduate Education Endowed Scholarship. This year’s Davitt Scholars are Zayneb Jaff BFA, MFA ’23 Art and Design and Christian A. Mika BS ’21 Criminal Justice MBA ’23 Business Administration.

The RIT-Rochester Prep High School Partnership (RPHS) held 5 semester-long capstone experiences, three in engineering, one in biochemistry and one in photojournalism for 15 RPHS seniors this past fall. Two spring capstones for juniors included one in biochemistry and one in civil engineering technology. RIT students continued to tutor RPHS students in their Design courses, and students from RIT’s Men of Color, Honor and Ambition (MOCHA) visited the high school to talk about college readiness and adjustment. The first three RPHS students to attend RIT graduated in May. Eight students have enrolled for fall 2022.   

Read more about the RIT-Rochester Prep Partnership here

Upward Bound Classic worked with 60 students from Greece Olympia High School and the Leadership Academy for Young Men with academic coaching, tutoring, and cultural experiences throughout the academic year. Social and cultural programming events exposed students to a variety of experiences within the Rochester Community as well as the Virtual Summer Program for this year. Fourteen seniors graduated from high school this year and will attend college in the fall.

The Veterans Upward Bound Program (VUB) served 125 low income, first-generation military veterans, from a nine-county area surrounding Rochester, with academic need, helping prepare them for transition into postsecondary education. Weekly office hours were held at RIT, Monroe Community College, Genesee Community College, Finger Lakes Community College, SUNY Brockport, and the Veterans Outreach Center, with outreach as well with community organizations and veteran homeless shelters. Sixty-six percent completed the VUB program or were retained this year; 71% of those veterans went on to enroll in post-secondary education programs and 74% of the veterans improved academically as measured by standardized testing.

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In summation, RIT believes in transparency in its ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The RIT Community Diversity Dashboard was developed through a joint collaboration of Institutional Research, Data & Analytics, Human Resources, and the Division of Diversity & Inclusion. The dashboard is open to the RIT community and capable of displaying both institutional level diversity data and the diversity of individual colleges and divisions. It provides a snapshot of institutional demographics, highlighting RIT’s diverse populations and welcomes visitors to explore recent trends related to race, ethnicity, and gender diversity, starting with the Diversity Index.