Chancellor Message 8/25/11

Message to Campus
RE Office of Diversity

Dear Colleagues,

Often I refer to UIC's diversity initiatives as being similar to a tapestry -- where sets of interlaced threads of many colors and many sizes come together to form a beautiful work of art. However, our diversity tapestry at UIC currently lacks that someone or something that weaves together the initiatives or common threads that are critical to construct our diversity vision at UIC.

With this in mind, and because of the many initiatives dedicated to the advancement of diversity underway at UIC, we are permanently funding the Office of Diversity and a chief diversity officer position. While the exact title of the chief diversity officer is still under consideration, we plan to start the search for this individual shortly and she/he will report to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Provost and the Chancellor.

The chief diversity officer will be responsible for creating and leading the Office of Diversity, which is charged with promoting an institutional culture that supports diversity in its many forms and acts as the focal point to develop, coordinate and implement new and existing diversity-related programs and initiatives across the campus with measurable benchmarks. She/he will ensure that programs represent the values espoused in the UIC Mission Statement, as well as the work of the UIC Diversity Strategic Thinking and Planning (DSTP) Committee. Working across campus constituencies, the chief diversity officer will have the authority to ensure the successful accomplishment of the diversity-related goals within the UIC Strategic Plan as well as the multi-year Diversity Strategic Plan that will be finished this coming fall semester. In collaboration with related offices, the chief diversity officer will develop strategies to achieve greater diversity, in its many forms, in recruiting and retaining students, faculty, and staff. The Office for Access and Equity will continue to monitor the university's EEO legal compliance requirements and affirmative action plans.

There are three other initiatives that will promote diversity at UIC and our commitment to access to excellence and success. These initiatives are the Chancellor's Diversity Cluster Initiative to increase faculty diversity and also our interdisciplinary culture, to provide our students with an experience in the principles of Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) and to bring to UIC a diversity scholar and lecture series. Allow me to give some additional details as to the actions currently in progress for each of these initiatives.

The Chancellor's Diversity Cluster initiative focuses on increasing our faculty diversity and academic excellence with an eye towards a more interdisciplinary culture. More specifically, it promotes the hiring, success and retention of those faculty members who will enhance our diversity in areas of research, creativity and scholarship as well as a collaborative community consistent with our colleges' and campus's strategic objectives to pursue interdisciplinary, cross-college/school hiring, success and retention that fosters a community of faculty with common research interests. More details regarding proposal guidelines, evaluation of the proposals and funding plans are forthcoming.

The second initiative is to provide all students with an experience in the principles of Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) as part of our initiative to promote student success. Since its introduction in 2008, several initiatives of IGD have been acted upon. IGD courses have been piloted in the Honors College and the Communications Department, and a course will be taught in the School of Pharmacy this coming fall semester. A task force has been designated to consider the implementation of a full IGD curriculum and the coordination of IGD programming efforts on campus. In order to assure all students have an introduction to IGD principles as freshmen, the task force is currently working on the general guidelines and learning outcomes for a freshman seminar introducing our students to the principles of IGD. I recognize that the development of a strong IGD program at UIC will require clear direction for outcomes as well as dedicated fiscal and human resources.

Finally, I have been in conversation with Dr. William Walden, Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity, regarding the development of a lecture series. By the way, President Hogan has charged Dr. Meena Rao, Vice President for Academic Affairs, to create a University Diversity Climate Survey. More information about that effort is forthcoming.

I want to recognize and thank each of you for your continued commitment and work for greater diversity at UIC. I especially thank William Walden, Lon Kaufman and the DSTP committee for their dedicated efforts that have led to this moment.

Sincerely,

Paula Allen-Meares
Chancellor
John Corbally Presidential Professor