Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In higher education, we are creating the future every day. We must, therefore, play a leadership role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we must find ways to make positive change that will improve our communities and create a path to a better society and future for all.


College of Science Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

The mission of the College of Science is to prepare world leaders who will expand the frontiers of science and mathematics and their application in identifying solutions to societal and global challenges and systemic inequities, and who will contribute to a society that embraces justice for all people. We are committed to an ongoing discussion within the College of Science community about systemic injustices and the specific actions we can take to make change. The leadership of College of Science commits to setting the expectation that the College of Science is an inclusive community that does not just promote equality and equity, but also expects every person within our College of Science community to actively work towards that reality.

In this section, we outline our DEI plan. In Appendix-A, we provide definitions for a number of terms that are essential to understanding this document.

Overarching Goals and Guiding Principles

  • Foster a diverse and inclusive community in which we support, trust, respect, embrace, and uplift one another.
  • Promote social justice principles and policies.
  • Make sustainable change happen and find long-term solutions.
  • Stimulate research and awareness of research on social justice issues related to science, mathematics, and education and incorporate results into College activities.

Action Items: 

1. Create policies and procedures to support DEI initiatives and the implementation of diversity best practices.

2. Establish a First-Generation Faculty/Staff/Student Networking Group.

3. Keep DEI efforts aligned with all COS meetings. Include DEI as a standing item for faculty/staff meetings, highlight diversity and inclusion efforts in newsletters to emphasize the importance of such work in COS, and have monthly discussions with students, faculty, staff, and administrators on topics related to DEI.

4. Implement inclusive excellence programming and ensure such programming is a priority year-round.

5. Develop support plans to ensure that all students, especially those from underserved backgrounds, feel supported and valued by our community.

6. Advertise and expand the role of our HHMI Inclusive Excellence program to help with the various initiatives related to DEI.

7. Celebrate success and progress. Establish a Diversity/IE Award and Recognition and recognize progress at the individual, program, department, school, and college levels.

8. Review our existing programs and initiatives and reflect on what we have learned.

9. Commitment to continuous improvements, including annual surveys and reports on our progress

Action Items:

1. Support more diverse curricula and culturally relevant and inclusive pedagogy and research opportunities.

2. Formalize recognition of students, faculty, and staff who take it upon themselves to increase their knowledge of racial injustices in society. Look into ways to formally recognize those who engage in this level of self-education.

3. Institute effective annual college-wide training sessions, with DEI industry experts.

4. Collaborate with other colleges and organizations within and outside RIT to share best practices and plans that will help us increase awareness.

5. Commitment to continuous improvements, including annual surveys and reports on our progress.

Action Items:

1. Incorporate DEI initiatives into the onboarding documents and practices for new faculty and staff and train senior faculty to be supportive and inclusive mentors to junior faculty and to our students. Align with best practices and recommendations from DDI.

2. Student Peer Mentoring: Assign a personal mentor to students by pairing them with an upper-level student, and provide scholarships/awards for those students who volunteer to mentor others.

3. Establish a mentoring program for ACA (AALANA Collegial Association) and AALANA students.

4. Reward successful efforts towards student, faculty, and staff mentorship.

5. Form a Student Cohort/Common Experience by establishing student Learning Communities.

6. Offer community-building cohort activities to all COS students, particularly in their first year, and utilize resources that exist at RIT. Connect with diverse student groups, especially those whose members are traditionally underrepresented in COS activities.

7. Commitment to continuous improvements, including annual surveys and reports on our progress.

Action Items:

1. Targeted advertising through the various professional societies, faculty, staff, and administrator networks for new faculty and staff recruitment to ensure a diverse pool of candidates.

2. Include language in faculty and staff advertisements for employment opportunities pertaining to our diversity, equity, and inclusion plans.

3. Focus recruiting efforts on building a pipeline of diverse undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and staff, and develop an outreach program and network to be used throughout the year for actively recruiting faculty from underrepresented groups from other universities.

4. Invest in creating a Diversity Postdoctoral program.

5. Model the University of Michigan STRIDE program that provides best practices which help to identify, recruit, retain, and promote diverse candidates.

6. Increase student diversity, which will help to attract a more diverse faculty and staff.

7. Develop a multi-year partnership with undergraduate and graduate admissions dedicated to building networks and pipelines to diverse students that would be interested in our academic programs.

8. Start a Student Cohort/Learning Community and bring in more students every year using the IMPRESS 1st-year course “Metacognitive Practices in Science” as a common ethical perspectives course that emphasizes identity and common themes across science disciplines.

9. Expand community-based partnerships by building collaborations with local and regional community organizations that will help to grow student recruitment and enrollments.

10. Commitment to continuous improvements, including annual surveys and reports on our progress.

Current College of Science Efforts and Progress

  • Revised our Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles, and Overarching Goals, to include strong value statements that reflect our expectation of community awareness of and advocacy for equity and inclusion (see Appendix-B below).
  • Established the COS Advisory Council on Building an Inclusive Community. The mission of this Council is to foster a broad sense of community across the College of Science at all levels. The Council is populated by representatives (1-2) from each school with an emphasis on creating more diversity across rank, gender, and other identities within COS.

    Current members are:
    • Dawn Carter
    • Eli Borrego
    • Jeyhan Kartaltepe
    • Louis McLane
    • Sheth Nyibule
    • Lea Michel
    • Suzanne O’Handley
    • Nishant Malik
    • Birgit Coffey
    • Zach Silberman
    • Jen Connelly
    • Rita Magalhaes (IE coordinator)
    • Antonio Williams (DDI)
  • The COS Advisory Council on Building an Inclusive Community meets bi-weekly to discuss ways to make the COS academic units more inclusive and welcoming; the Council will consider holding monthly “Who are we?” meetings to bring together COS faculty, students, and staff from all identities to discuss intersectional issues of minoritization, marginalization, and bias.
  • Establishing a Metacog club for incoming COS students to have a common experience and build community across the COS academic units. Emily Mehlman (IMPRESS coordinator) and Rita Magalhaes (IE coordinator) may jointly coordinate these workshops.
  • Revised Faculty Annual Self-evaluations and Plan of Work to include a section on DEI efforts.
  • The mission of the Center for Advancing STEM Teaching Learning and Evaluation (CASTLE) is to improve RIT's science and math education and outreach initiatives and foster collaboration between science and math educators and education researchers. The Center is a network of faculty, projects, and programs engaged in scholarship surrounding STEM education for all students.
  • Faculty and students annually attend the Conference for the National Society of Black Physicists and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.
  • Faculty, staff, and students are engaged in outreach programs through partnerships with the K-12 community (outreach activities to local middle and elementary schools).
  • COS hosts the Inclusive Excellence initiative supported by a $1M grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).
  • Faculty and staff participate in seminars, workshops, and professional development opportunities offered by COS (and WISe and IE), DDI, and RIT Advance.
  • Faculty participate in IE workshops focused on creating inclusive classrooms and implementing inclusive teaching practices.
  • Faculty and staff are learning particular skills, such as ASL, to improve student communication.
  • College-wide viewing of Brick-by-Brick, the award-winning film by RIT’s Director of Diversity Theater, Tina Chapman DaCosta, that explored issues of identity and culture in society to build community and awareness.
  • Women in Science (WISe): Working together, Inspiring each other, Strengthening relationships, Engaging community for the success of women in science and math. The WISe program contributes to the engagement of women in sciences and mathematics at all levels through diverse and unique events and opportunities. The program engages participants by offering information and education on equity and inclusion. We have established a Peer Mentoring program through WISe, and we provide opportunities for both formal and informal mentoring of junior faculty.
  • Our student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics meets regularly to discuss mathematics and offer a supportive and welcoming environment for women in mathematics at RIT.
  • We are reactivating the Women in Physics Initiative to cultivate a culture that supports our women in physics at RIT.
  • COS will be re-starting COS-AALANA as a faculty/student/staff collective affinity group with funding ($500 for activities, etc.) for their activities. COS-AALANA will bring together faculty, staff, and students for discussions, networking, and mentoring.
  • COS will be supporting & funding ($500) a new COS-LGBTQ+ affinity group for students, faculty & staff.
  • Supporting a series of student-led metacognition workshops from the new IMPRESS (Integrating Metacognitive Practices and Research to Ensure Student Success) program.
  • Self-assessment and implementation plan in development by both faculty and students aimed at supporting the success of Black students through the BS Physics Program.
  • Submission and implementation of grants aimed at working with students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Faculty engage in positions of leadership pertaining to Diversity and Inclusion, either by their work in committees or in groups/programs within COS (IE, WISe, Academic Senate, CREW, etc.).
  • Collaborations with other offices at RIT, namely the Division of Diversity and Inclusion (DDI), Diversity Theater, AdvanceRIT, National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), McNair Scholars Program, etc. to help provide the best support for our students and peers.
  • Encourage support and champion COS-AALANA and first-generation students for College, Academic Unit, and Institute level awards such as; John Wiley Jones Outstanding Students in Science Scholarship (COS), David M. Baldwin Scholarship (GSoLS), and Outstanding Undergraduate Research Scholar (RIT).
  • We support and participate in the DDI Future Faculty Career Exploration Program (FFCEP), and we are one of the sponsors of the COMPACT Expo conference where the recruitment for the Program (FFCEP) participants takes place.
  • Established the COS Broadening Diversity in Faculty Hiring Committee. The charge of the Committee is to help us with our efforts to attract a diverse pool of candidates and recruit underrepresented faculty. 

    The members of the Committee are:
    • Larry Buckley
    • Susan Farnand
    • André Hudson
    • Basca Jadamba
    • Casey Miller
    • Aaron McGowan
    • Dina Newman
    • Thomas Smith
    • Anthony Vodacek
  • Faculty and staff candidates meet with Women in Science (WISe) and the COS Inclusive Excellence leadership team as part of the on-campus interview process.
  • Current effort in Physics to develop an RIT/University of Rochester RCSD partnership to develop a summer program aimed at increasing the number of Rochester City School students, especially from underrepresented populations, interested in and prepared to enter BS degrees in physics and related STEM disciplines.
  • COS is part of the NSF Alliance - Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN): members of the IGEN partnership which is aimed at increasing the participation of underrepresented racial and ethnic minority (UREM) students who enter graduate or doctorate level programs in the physical sciences. Key partners working with the professional societies to reach the faculty directly are APS (physics), ACS (chemistry), and AGU (geosciences), with budding interest from AAS (astro), MRS (materials science), and AMS (mathematics).
  • Participation in the NIH RISE program (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Undergraduates) and the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate Research training program.
  • Submission to the NSF-S-STEM program to provide scholarships for students in need.
  • Participation in workshops run by IE that educate mentors on how to create safe and inclusive environments for their student mentees from diverse backgrounds.
  • Faculty and staff are involved in the review of practices that will lead to more equity in the College. These include hiring at all levels, teaching, and recruitment practices.

Implementation Plan

The implementation plan (short- and long-term plan) is in the development stage. The plan will include specifics on how we are going to execute each action item with timetable and metrics for assessing our success. When ready, they will be included in this section.

Appendix A

In this section, we provide definitions of a number of terms that are essential to understanding this document.

Diversity: The presence of individuals or groups with characteristics that are different or similar. Characteristics may include gender, race, skin color, ethnicity, age, national origin, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, philosophical differences, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, education level, parental status, marital status, veteran status, language, and physical appearance.

Equity: The act and promotion of fairness in the distribution of resources, in providing and creating opportunities, in evaluating systems, and in the development and implementation of policies, procedures, and processes.

Equality: The state of being equal especially in status, rights, and opportunities. Equal treatment means treating everyone as if their experiences have been the same, which can only result in equity if everyone starts with equal access to opportunities.

Inclusion: The state of being intentional about ensuring that traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups and different perspectives are welcomed, respectfully heard, and included in activities and decision/policy making. An inclusive culture means that all individuals are accepted, respected, feel a sense of belonging, and are able to participate and achieve to their full potential. Barriers to inclusion are identified and systematically removed.

Social Justice: Equal access to opportunities, resources, social and political rights, and privileges within a society.

Systemic Inequities: Unequal distribution, through an embedded bias, of resources and benefits for communities or members of a community. Such resources and benefits may include equal access to health care, education, housing, property rights, promotion, tenure, and scholarships.

Systemic Injustices: The inherent violation, within an institution, of the rights of others that might lead to unfair labor practices or discrimination due to skin color, gender, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation.

More Diverse Curriculum: Inclusion of a more diverse curriculum that is inclusive of scientific and mathematical contributions and scientists that make meaningful connections between what students learn and their cultures, languages, and life experiences.

Inclusive Pedagogy: A student-centered approach to teaching in which educators create an inviting and engaging learning environment for all students that respectfully recognize their individual and group diversity which includes learning styles, and physical and cognitive abilities.

Appendix B

The College of Science will be recognized as a national model for its significant contribution and impact in making our communities and our world better, fair, diverse, and inclusive. This will be accomplished by preparing world leaders who will expand the frontiers of science and mathematics and their application in identifying solutions to societal and global challenges, systemic inequities, and will contribute to a society that embraces justice for all people.

The College of Science prepares graduates for careers in the physical, life, and mathematical sciences and provides mathematical and scientific foundations for all RIT students through academic programs and impactful innovative research that expand scientific knowledge and develop new technologies to advance the sciences and their application to society and our environment. We embrace social justice and equity-related to but not limited to education, research, and the scientific community at large.


  • Student Success
  • Academic Excellence
  • Faculty and Staff Success
  • Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusive Excellence
  • Synergy and Outreach
  • Environment and Infrastructure
  • Academic Operations

The College of Science will pursue its vision to be known for the high-quality education it provides for its students, its world-class research and expertise in target areas, its innovative, person-centered approaches to teaching and learning, and its graduates who will be equipped with cutting edge knowledge and will be prepared, through experiential learning and deep understanding of the principles of equity, social justice, and inclusive excellence, to succeed in their chosen careers.

GOAL - 1: Provide excellent mathematics and science foundation courses for all RIT students and develop and support academic programs that will instill interdisciplinary inquiry and intellectual growth, and will prepare our graduates for careers in a rapidly changing global marketplace.

GOAL - 2: Build on our successes and develop and support active, world-class, cross-disciplinary research programs and centers of excellence that will attract first-rate scientists to RIT, will provide rich, person-centered diverse, and inclusive learning environments for our students, and will be supported by grants, foundations, and industrial sponsorship.

GOAL - 3: Promote, support, and enhance a vigorous, diverse, inclusive, and rewarding academic environment that fosters faculty and staff professional growth, job satisfaction, impartiality, social justice, equality, and equity for all members of the College.

GOAL - 4: Develop partnerships and outreach programs with business, industry, government, K-12 community, alumni, and other RIT academic and business units in support of the goals of the College and Institute.

GOAL - 5: The College of Science will be housed in state-of-the-art facilities and will provide the infrastructure that will enable excellence in science and math education and research.