Dr. Mitchell embodies the values of the Isaac L. Jordan Sr. Pluralism Award
An inspirational leader who motivated others with his authenticity, vision and commitment to promoting a unified community at RIT, is the legacy of the late Isaac L. Jordan Sr. at RIT. He often showed his compassion to others by listening attentively to each person’s journey and showing great respect for their person. Jordan Sr. was known for championing and celebrating differences, all while inspiring people at RIT and in the Greater Rochester community to attain their full potential.
Yearly the Division for Diversity and Inclusion (DDI) highlights the work of a current staff member who embodies the vision, life and unwavering commitment to igniting diversity and inclusion throughout the RIT community. We congratulate Dr. Venessa Mitchell, Director of Engineering Diversity, Office of the Dean in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering as the 2017 Isaac L. Jordan, Sr. Pluralism Award recipient.
As Dr. Mitchell received her recognition during the 2017 Presidential Awards for Outstanding Staff event and reception, she was feeling truly blessed, humbled and proud of the work she’s doing with AALANA students at RIT. Dr. Mitchell couldn’t help, but think of the words of her late mentor and dear friend, David Hathaway who always encouraged her by saying “you can do it! I know you can make it happen!”
Three years ago, Dr. Mitchell shared her vision with previous Dean, Harvey Palmer, about her inherent desire to bring more AALANA students to RIT and diversify engineering student enrollment. With the unwavering support of the College of Engineering, and current Dean, Doreen Edwards, she launched a series of signature events to help recruit and ultimately retain AALANA students in RIT’s engineering programs. Although there are many strategies, grants, initiatives and programs at RIT to diversify our campus, Dr. Mitchell created and opened the ECCO Center (Engineers of Color Creating Opportunities). From the center a customizable overnight experience, known as the “ECCO Experience,” was implemented where accepted high school students are exposed to a “reality dose” of all the opportunities and resources offered to AALANA students in the RIT engineering programs. Overall, the initial impact and effectiveness of the experience is promising. Over the last 2 years, 85% of the students who attended the ECCO Experience in the spring enrolled in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering the following fall.
Dr. Mitchell says she seeks “to be a positive role model to AALANA students and motivate them to pursue an engineering career and attain an invaluable higher educational student experience.” Her drive and passion has enabled her to have an encouraging rapport with students, faculty and staff to bring meaningful change to the RIT community. Dr. Mitchell embodies the values and exemplifies the character traits the late Isaac L. Jordan Sr. held dear.