RIT recognized nationally as ‘Diversity Champion’ by ‘INSIGHT Into Diversity’

Campus diversity and inclusion efforts recognized for interpersonal connections and significant results




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INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine has recognized Rochester Institute of Technology as a Diversity Champion, one of the first colleges and universities in the nation to receive the designation. Diversity Champions exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs, and at the highest administrative levels.

“RIT is a visionary leader among campus communities striving for diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity. “As a Diversity Champion school, RIT exceeds everyday expectations, often eclipsing even its own goals, and develops successful strategies that serve as models of excellence for other higher education institutions.”

Fewer than 10 colleges and universities across the nation have received the Diversity Champion designation. Selected institutions ranked in the top tier of the 92 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award recipients of 2015. The HEED Award is presented annually by INSIGHT Into Diversity to recognize colleges and universities that are dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive campus environment.

“This designation is quite an honor and recognizes the high level of intentionality with which RIT approaches diversity and inclusion efforts, here and abroad,” said Kevin McDonald, RIT’s vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion. “I’m incredibly grateful to supportive, visionary and creative cross-functional partners who have collaborated with our division every step of this rewarding journey toward inclusion.”

Over the past few years, RIT has won honors for its campus diversity programming, and several individuals have also been recognized for their personal commitment to diversity efforts both on and off campus. The university won INSIGHT into Diversity’s HEED award in 2014 and 2015 in recognition of its focus on diversity through campus-wide initiatives, programs and outreach, student recruitment, retention and completion, and hiring practices for faculty and staff. RIT’s diversity division includes the Office for Faculty Recruitment, the Multicultural Center for Academic Success, the McNair Scholars Program, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, the Native American Future Stewards Program, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Higher Education Opportunity Program.

RIT’s College of Science associate professor of chemistry Lea Vacca Michel was named a 2015 INSIGHT into Diversity Inspiring Women in STEM Award. It is given to women in STEM professions—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—who inspire and encourage young women to consider careers in these fields. Michel is chair of the Women in Science program in the college and an active member of RIT’s Center for Advancing Science/Mathematics Teaching, Learning and Evaluation and SMASH—the Summer Math Applications in Science with Hands-on Experience for Girls camp.

Most recently, RIT President Bill Destler was awarded the Diversity Giving Back Award. Presented annually, the award is given to university presidents and chancellors in recognition of their social responsibility, both on campus and in their respective communities, for their commitment to serving underrepresented populations and for philanthropic achievements. Destler was nominated for his dedication to RIT’s numerous student-centered programs, his leadership and participation in faculty and staff equity projects and for his contributions to the Greater Rochester community through the establishment of the Rochester City Scholars program. Destler will be featured, along with the other national recipients in the Leadership Support and Giving print issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, out March 22.

“RIT has taken a two-pronged approach, that of diversity and inclusion. That is why the approach works. RIT is no only concentration on being diverse, the university wants to be inclusive, and the inclusivity part makes the atmosphere friendly and the people approachable. This makes it a good place to work,” said Andre Hudson, associate professor in RIT’s Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences. He also coordinates one of the diversity office’s recognition programs, the Isaac L. Jordan Faculty Diversity Award. This was one of several programs highlighted in the “Diversity Champion” award, along with:

  • MOCHA-Men of Color, Honor and Ambition: A yearlong personal, professional, academic and leadership development initiative for RIT’s undergraduate male population.
  • WOCHA-Women of Color, Honor and Ambition: a new, one-year initiative developed for historically underrepresented women in a predominately technical university to enhance leadership ability, build camaraderie, access mentorship and open networking opportunities.
  • Rochester City Scholars: Launched in 2010, RIT offers fully funded scholarships for high achieving students from the Rochester City School District.
  • I’m First: A support program that strives to ensure success for students who are the first in their family to attend college.
  • Global Leadership Certificate Program: A student networking and educational opportunity to attain leadership skills and an understanding of global connections, racial, cultural and social experiences.
  • Expressions of King’s Legacy: A campus and community celebration of Rev. Martin Luther King’s life.
  • Future Faculty Career Exploration Program: A national recruiting initiative to increase the number of diverse faculty being recruited, hired and retained at RIT.
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