RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity

July 7, 2021

RIT unveils Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity outlining new diversity and inclusion initiatives
The plan was developed with heavy input from RIT students, faculty, staff, and alumni

Rochester Institute of Technology unveiled an extensive new plan and series of initiatives aimed at making the university more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. The Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity will guide RIT’s efforts over the next several years as it rolls out new programs, services, and policies to help create equal access, opportunities, and respect for all students, faculty, and staff.

The plan has three main pillars with several broad initiatives underneath each. The pillars focus on 1) leadership, culture, and communication 2) African American, Latino American, and Native American (AALANA) student enrollment and success, and 3) faculty and staff recruitment, retention and advancement.

Seeds for the plan were planted in the summer of 2020 as the RIT community reacted to the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, calling on the university to transcend its existing work in diversity and inclusion. After collecting ideas and feedback from the RIT community during town halls last summer, the university established three working groups to refine the ideas into what ultimately became the three pillars of the plan. The plan’s shepherds collected additional input by meeting extensively with governance groups, AALANA student groups, focus groups, and university leadership.

“This plan was developed by the RIT community for the RIT community,” said Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Keith Jenkins, who led efforts to compile the plan. “Achieving the initiatives laid out in this plan will help make this university a much more inclusive, welcoming, vibrant institution that benefits from the contributions of all of its participants at all levels. I am excited to see this plan put into action and look forward to partnering with faculty, staff, and students across the university to make it a reality.”

Jenkins noted that several of the plan’s broad initiatives are already underway and will have an immediate impact, while others are on the horizon in the next one to two years.

“The initiatives outlined in this plan will go a long way toward making RIT a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive university,” said RIT President David Munson. “I want to thank every RIT community member who participated in the plan’s formulation and who contributed their voice and passion to the discussion. While we have a significant amount of work ahead to realize the plan, the university will be a better place because of it.”

Earlier this year, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf released a separate Antiracism and Social Justice Plan and NTID is posting regular updates on the plan’s progress.

To view the full plan, go to the Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity webpage

Q&A with Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Keith Jenkins

Jenkins discusses the newly released Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity.

View Q&A 

March 15, 2021 Update

Dear RIT Community,

On November 5, 2020, we shared communication regarding the process underway to develop an RIT Action Plan for Race & Ethnicity. Based on that timeline, during the months of December through February, we continued to gather feedback regarding draft plans and presented a draft proposal to the RIT Board of Trustees in February 2021. Recommended revisions were again made and an additional draft was shared with constituent groups to gather their ongoing feedback. This revised draft of the RIT Action Plan for Race & Ethnicity, capturing many of the recommended revisions, is now presented to the RIT Community for further review. 

We ask that you take time to examine this draft of the RIT Action Plan for Race & Ethnicity. The review period for this document has ended. 

View plan here

Please provide your feedback through April 2, 2021, by sending an email to diversity@rit.edu. In your email, please designate which pillar your feedback/recommendation relates to. Your feedback will assist us in shaping the final plan. Meanwhile, we already are charting a path for implementation of some initiatives that we expect will be included as recommendations in the final report.

Know that we greatly appreciate your support in this endeavor.

David Munson
President

Keith Jenkins
Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion

RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity – Update and Opportunity for Input!

Early in 2020, a global pandemic became the canvas upon which the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and others would be forever painted.  The interesting events of 2020 highlight systemic racial inequity, racial injustice, and disparities in healthcare. RIT is compelled to reexamine our own history, renew and refocus our existing commitments, and expand our reach and effort by leveraging our passion to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive society.  

During the months of June through September, a host of recommendations were put forward from students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and community members in response to these events. An analysis of the recommendations identified three key areas of focus—(1) student recruitment and success; (2) faculty and staff recruitment, retention, and advancement; and (3) culture, communication, and leadership.

These areas will serve as pillars for an RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity. Although this plan, in this season, is narrowly focused on “race and ethnicity”, we do not take our eyes off the many diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives long underway at RIT.  That work continues.  

We’ve created a video that outlines the key recommendations to date. We invite you to watch it, please click here.

A pdf of the Power Point presentation is also available on the Division of Diversity and Inclusion website.

Your feedback is also important to us. We welcome you to take a survey following your review of the video. Please click here to take the survey.

For those interested in sharing virtually via zoom, you may elect to join us on Monday, December 14th or Tuesday December 15th for one of these one-hour sessions to provide your feedback, reactions, and recommendations.  (These sessions have now passed).

Best,

Keith B. Jenkins
Vice President & Associate Provost
Diversity and Inclusion

Action Plan Announcement

gray and yellow background with orange and black text

November 5, 2020

Dear RIT Community,

Early in 2020, a global pandemic became the canvas upon which the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and others would be forever painted. The distressing events of 2020 have exposed systemic racial inequity, racial injustice, and disparities in healthcare, as highlighted by countless national protests, demonstrations, vigils, and town hall meetings. As a leader in higher education, RIT is compelled to reexamine our own history, renew and refocus our existing commitments, and expand our reach and effort by leveraging our passion to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive society. 

During the months of June through September, a host of recommendations were put forward from students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and community members in response to these events. An analysis of the recommendations identified three key areas of focus—student recruitment and success; faculty and staff recruitment, retention, and advancement; and culture, communication, and leadership. These areas will serve as pillars for an RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity. Three separate working groups have been formed to construct the pillars, with each group charged to:

  • Propose a vision for the pillar;
  • Identify three to five broad strategies or initiatives that would substantially enhance RIT’s ability to achieve this vision;
  • Identify potential resource needs and associated costs; and
  • Indicate timelines and measurements, some of which may come from the RIT Strategic Plan.

Each working group, with representatives from multiple divisions and colleges from across the university, is currently pursuing the task before them. 

Co-Conveners and Co-Writers for the working groups are:

  • Student Recruitment and Success: Kit Mayberry (DDI), Tomicka Wagstaff (DDI)
  • Faculty and Staff Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement: Donathan Brown (DDI), Jo Ellen Pinkham (HR)
  • Culture, Communication, and Leadership: Taj Smith (DDI), Vienna McGrain (M&C)

The university is proceeding diligently with the development of the RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity, while arranging sufficient time for community-wide consultation and engagement. The resulting plan will be a “living document” that we expect will evolve and take new directions as the landscape changes and the future unfolds.

The October/November timeline has consisted of the following:

  • Week of Oct. 12-16
    • First meetings of working groups with the goals to propose and refine vision per group focus and identify three to five broad initiatives
  • Week of Oct. 19-23
    • Second meetings of working groups with goals to refine vision and three to five broad initiatives and explore potential resource needs and costs
    • Presented progress-to-date at President’s Roundtable (Oct. 22) and RIT Alumni Association Board of Directors (Oct. 23)
  • Week of Oct. 26-30
    • Third meetings of working groups to receive additional feedback to refine vision, three to five broad initiatives, explore potential resource needs and costs, and identify potential timelines and measurements
    • Presented progress-to-date at RIT President’s Cabinet meeting (Oct. 26), Dean’s Council (Oct 28), and University Council (Oct. 29)
    • Other meetings during the week solicited feedback and ideas from the ALANA Collegiate Association (ACA) and guests (Black Awareness Coordinating Committee), Student Government, Global Union, and the Staff Council DEI Committee
  • Week of Nov. 2-6
    • AALANA Faculty Listening Session (Nov. 5)
    • AALANA Staff Listening Session (Nov. 5)

Meetings and presentations beyond Nov. 5 that are scheduled or being planned include AALANA Student Listening Sessions, RIT President’s Cabinet, Academic Senate, Staff Council, Student Government, AALANA Collegiate Association Board of Directors, NTID Advisory Group, and the RIT Board of Trustees.

During December and January, we will focus attention on finalizing the draft report, and then present the draft at a Board of Trustees retreat in early February 2021. In parallel, we will be continuing the conversation with students, faculty, and staff. Feedback from all constituencies will be integrated into the draft to produce the final plan. Meanwhile, we already are beginning plans for implementation of some initiatives that we expect will be included as recommendations in the final report.

David Munson
President

Keith Jenkins
Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion

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