The Miami Report

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From the president

It has been almost a year since I held an open forum with students to discuss issues surrounding diversity. More than 400 concerned students, faculty and members of the community attended the Nov. 19, 1998, session that followed two days of student protests. The resulting discussions were thoughtful and intense. As this first anniversary nears, I thought it would be useful to assess our progress toward making Miami a truly diverse and accepting community.

Let me begin by mentioning a new Web site, maintained by our news and public information office, which will benchmark our progress as well as inform the community of programs, resources and statistics regarding campus diversity. This 10-page document is now available at www. muohio.edu/diversityfacts/. I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about diversity at Miami to visit the Web site to get a sense of the breadth of activity already instituted and the sincere commitment of many people to improve our campus.

Augmenting this Web site will be an annual report on campus diversity by the President’s Council on Multicultural Affairs. Among its other duties, the council is charged with monitoring the degree to which we meet our institutional diversity objectives. The council will issue a report on its findings near the end of each academic year.

Here are some other examples of recent progress that have not yet made it into our new diversity facts Web site:

o The division of student affairs launched a marketing campaign last month that features minority students promoting the theme "I Am Miami" via billboards, newspaper and radio advertisements in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton and Indianapolis. This campaign is part of a comprehensive recruitment effort aimed at increasing the number of minority students on campus.

o Recent data show that efforts by deans and chairs to diversify the faculty are showing results. Minority professors made up 37 percent (nine out of 24) of all the tenured or tenure-track faculty who joined the university this fall.

o The division of academic affairs reports that student interest in making diversity issues part of the curricular experience has grown significantly. Enrollments in Strength Through Cultural Diversity (IDS 159), a course that helps students understand their own and other cultures, have jumped from about 75 last fall to more than 600 this fall.

o Faculty and staff interest in learning more about diversity also is increasing and there are numerous opportunities to do so. For example, last week, organizational change consultant Frances E. Kendall was here for two diversity presentations, one for faculty and one for the general community. Two weeks ago, 27 faculty and staff members attended the American Council on Education’s annual diversity conference, "Educating All of One Nation."

o The proposal to create a multicultural center on campus has now made its way through the study and consultative process and is in the final phases of preparation before presentation to the board of trustees. The Center for American and World Cultures could be approved as early as February 2000, and its addition will open up many opportunities for enhancing campus diversity.

In addition, I am encouraged by the widespread agreement that we continue to make campus diversity a high institutional priority. Faculty and students alike have embraced the principle that a multicultural campus environment is itself of great educational benefit to our students. To me, this broad agreement signifies that Miami is moving in the right direction.

In short, I am heartened by the progress we have made over the past year and want to express my gratitude to the hundreds of students, faculty and staff who are responsible for it. At the same time, I want to underscore the need to maintain and redouble our efforts to eliminate homophobia and racial and ethnic intolerance from our campus. While it is appropriate to acknowledge the progress and steps we have already taken, we must not lose sight of our ultimate destination.

Again, I thank those of you who have dedicated yourselves to our challenge at hand. I look forward to even more progress in the coming months.

Date Published: 11/18/1999
Volume: 19   Number: 17

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