Advancing The Plan | November 2022
We are asking RIT leaders to share with us just a bit of what they are doing to advance the RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity. We have two updates: the first from College of Art and Design Dean Todd Jokl followed by RIT’s Division of Marketing and Communications with John Trierweiler, vice president and chief marketing officer and Bob Finnerty, associate vice president of University Communications.
The College of Art and Design (CAD) was recently recognized with RIT’s Office of Faculty Diversity and Recruitment‘s “Changing Hearts and Minds” award. In the brief remarks following this recognition, College of Art and Design Dean Todd Jokl focused on the word “Progress” to note that while work has been accomplished, the “Changing Hearts and Minds” award symbolizes progress towards (rather than completion of) goals outlined in RIT’s Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity.
The College of Art and Design has focused on the three pillars of the action plan, representing Leadership, Culture, and Communication; Student Enrollment and Success; and Faculty and Staff Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement. Notably, while the combination of COVID and a strong labor market has accelerated retirements and/or career moves for a number of individuals across the college, hiring of faculty and staff over the past 18 months has yielded new employees to CAD’s community, 47% of whom identify as AALANA or ALANA. This success has been achieved through the hard work of our search committees and administrative liaison, as well partnering with DDI and their focused efforts in this regard. 65% of our college’s student population identifies as non-male and 19% as AALANA. College goals include increasing the percentage of students identifying as AALANA and continuing to increase the overall percentage of faculty and staff who identify as non-male and/or AALANA.
Key faculty members are engaging in scholarship and curriculum development that broadens the diverse perspectives called for through the Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity. Examples of this can be found in the Art History curriculum that serves a very broad audience within the college as well as across the university through its general education offerings. Entry-level survey courses in Art History now focus on diverse artists and perspectives in U.S. Art History, or Art in the Ancient Americas, as well as courses looking at broader international lineages, outside of the western canon, are either now available or are about to launch. Diversity in the college’s curriculum is growing in multiple other areas and strategic hires have deepened our expertise which plays out in the curriculum as well as in the college’s research profile. Faculty members such as Joshua Rashaad McFadden, Mary Golden, Meredith Davenport, and Dennis Delgado, amongst others, are engaged in creative scholarship that is investigating a wide range of diverse issues from our current and historical social and cultural inequity to health access and how racial inequity finds its way into technologies such as artificial intelligence. And our alumni like Charles Gaines are making important contributions to the deeper investigations of our country’s history and helping to forge a pathway forward.
Related to Pillar I and the culture of inclusivity, the college has placed significant resources and focus on our greater Rochester community engagement. These include programs at RIT’s most prominent public facing resources within downtown Rochester, RIT City Art Space. Many of RIT City Art Space’s exhibitions and programs focus on important issues related to DDI, including the Clarissa Uprooted Exhibition (a joint program developed with faculty and students from CAD and the College of Liberal Arts, as well as partners in the community like Teen Empowerment, the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee, and others), All of Us (curated by Rochester City Scholar Unique Fair-Smith ’21 MFA, ’19 BFA, this exhibit focused on emerging artists working in the City of Rochester), and through our partnership with Art Bridges, we exhibited an important installation relating to commemorating the AIDS epidemic by artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres as well as the current installation of important video work from Ana Mendieta. There are many more exhibitions to note at RIT City Art Space and our college’s other galleries, and all of these exhibitions include accessible educational programming opportunities for our students as well as students and community members from Rochester and further afield.
In addition to the RIT City Art Space programming, our MS Teaching (MST) program, which trains our future K-12 NY state art teachers, now includes a rotation in the Rochester City School District (RCSD) for every MS candidate. The MST program is also working with Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) to update their teacher guides, including important areas of diversity and inclusivity as they pertain to the MAG collections. Recently, the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Art and Design completed a memorandum of understanding with Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance (JAACA) to develop programs within the areas of Rochester that are served by JAACA. Also in partnership with many other areas across RIT and the community, the college is proud to have co-sponsored Radical Reversal for a free performance in early November at the Theater at Innovation Square. And the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences has partnered with RCSD on a program where an RIT college-level photography course will be taught in their schools. Students will even earn college credit when they successfully complete the course. All of these activities include our faculty and students, and promote opportunity and access to quality programming in the arts.
Overall, our focus on “access and opportunity” spans the audiences of our undergraduate and graduate students, our faculty, our staff, and our alumni community. Importantly, “access and opportunity” also incorporates the broader community within Rochester and the world, at large. The college’s commitment to a more inclusive and diverse environment runs deep and is manifested in many more programs and initiatives than the sampling of endeavors noted in this update for Advancing the Plan. The College of Art and Design’s goals coincide with the RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity and are worthwhile and ambitious. In a number of ways, the College of Art and Design is making Progress.
The Division of Marketing and Communications continues to advance the RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity as we convey the essence of RIT’s diversity story in all its forms. Here are some recent examples:
Surveys: We partnered with the Division of Diversity and Inclusion in the fielding of qualitative and quantitative research via our Brand Health Tracker, providing important insights on the perceptions held by prospective students, current students, faculty, staff, and alumni. These insights will be used to help support and leverage the Campus Climate Survey as well as inform the student Success Steering Committee.
Website: We continue to partner with DDI on the DDI Website. This includes adding the newly updated scorecard.
Public Relations/Media Relations: Once again, we promoted RIT receiving two prestigious awards from the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine designated RIT as a 2022 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award recipient and a 2022 Diversity Champion. This marks the ninth year in a row RIT has been named a HEED Award recipient and eighth consecutive year as a Diversity Champion.
We worked with local media when Keith Jenkins, vice president and associate provost for Diversity and Inclusion, was named the inaugural recipient of a Colors of Success DEI Award from the Greater Chamber of Commerce.
We have begun promotion of RIT’s Expressions of King’s Legacy, featuring Pulitzer Prize recipient Nikole Hannah-Jones.
The Fall edition of the University Magazine features an 8-page feature on the history of Title IX. We did marketing for Together RIT: Day of Understanding, Solidarity and Racial Reconciliation which was held on October 21st. We partnered with DDI to build a website and helped create a Together RIT marketing toolkit, which included graphics to be used for social media. We worked closely with President Munson to note the day in his Welcome Back speech to faculty and staff. In addition, we provided PR with various stories including the main story which you can view here