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Just over a year ago, I started in my role as the associate dean for diversity and inclusion.  This was in the midst of discussions regarding the findings of the 2018 campus climate study.  I would like to update the Canisius community on our progress.

As you know, Canisius College is an educational community comprised of students and employees with varied backgrounds and life experiences.   Together, we can help make diversity and inclusion a priority in our daily work and interactions.  While the role of associate dean for diversity and inclusion may serve as a focal point for this work, the responsibility for putting our values into action belongs to each of us.

As demonstrated below, the goal is to work collaboratively with others to create and support a truly inclusive experience throughout all aspects of campus life while helping members of the college community understand and appreciate how diversity and inclusion on campus strengthens us:

  • Diversity and Inclusion Committee

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee, formerly known as the Racial Diversity Team, has been working to develop a campus climate on race strategic plan to ensure that diversity and inclusion efforts are a fundamental part of the College.  This emphasis on race also recognizes the intersections of identities and experiences essential to our institutional goals. The committee will continue to work in partnership with the associate dean for diversity and inclusion to monitor institutional progress, and implement programs, and initiatives.

  • Campus Climate on Race Strategic Plan

The campus climate on race strategic plan has been submitted to the senior leadership team.  Goals include creating opportunities to build capacity for diversity and inclusion by offering workshops, trainings and programs, increasing interdepartmental communication and collaboration, addressing issues of access and equity in employment, and improving the experience of all students and employees of the College.

  • Diversity & Inclusion Statement

A subcommittee, with representation from accessibility services, administrative associates, facilities, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, Hamlin Park Taxpayers Association, and international education, drafted a campus wide statement for diversity and inclusion.   The draft statement has been accepted by the senior leadership team and strategic planning committee.

The campus climate on race strategic plan and diversity and inclusion statement will be made available for campus comment and feedback.  After the commenting period, both documents will be presented to the board of trustees. 

  • Campus Climate Workshop Series

The campus climate workshop series provides opportunities for all members of the college to develop the awareness, knowledge, and skills vital to transforming the culture of our institution.  In collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Lodi-Smith, assistant vice president for academic affairs, we were able to offer the following:

  • Talk About, Think About, & Act on Implicit Bias, presented by Dr. Nathan Arbuckle, Department Psychology (Fall 2019)
  • Faculty Teaching Retreat in collaboration with the Office Mission & Identity, There is Room: Intentionally Incorporating Race into Course Content (Fall 2019)
  • Talk About, Think About, & Act on Implicit Bias, hosted by Facilities Management (2 Workshops, Spring 2020)
  • Microaggressions Are Not So Subtle: The Verbal, Behavioral, and Environmental Indignities!, presented by Isabelle Oritz, University at Buffalo, Intercultural & Diversity Center (postponed)
  • Facilitating Difficult Conversations: Calling One Into A Conversation, Not Calling One Out, presented by:  Robbie Routenberg,  InciteChange  (postponed)
  • Bias Resource & Response Team (BRT)

The divisions of academic and student affairs have convened a bias resource and response team.  The purpose of the group is to develop proactive strategies and response protocols that support a positive campus climate.  The BRT has participated in a bias response training, reviewed our process for addressing bias incidents reported by our students and staff, and researched best practices to improve our policy.

  • Additional Initiatives

The office of diversity and inclusion is excited about the opportunity to continue this work with campus partners that include:

  • Kathleen Brucato, associate dean of students and coordinator for Title IX, to provide programs that scaffold diversity beyond new student orientation.
  • Thomas Chambers, dean of the college of arts and sciences, to meet with the Minority Faculty and Staff Affinity Group to develop a critical race studies/ethnic studies minor.
  • Rich Kennedy and the Undergraduate Student Association to expand the capacity of the Diversity Committee.
  • Melissa Mosko, associate professor of philosophy, with the support of Mark Gallimore, director COLI and Jennifer Lodi-Smith, PhD, interim assistant vice president for academic affairs, to develop a resource directory for teaching race in the classroom.
  • Linda Walleshauser, associate vice president for human resources, to develop a diversity in hiring policy and training for search committees.

Click here for a printable version of this document.

Canisius is a special place and I am honored to be a part of this important work.  I would like to thank the students, staff, faculty, administrators, alumni, and community members who have laid the foundation for promoting diversity and inclusion at Canisius.

Submitted by: Fatima Rodriguez Johnson, associate dean, Diversity & Inclusion