Diversity Institute marks milestones – SUNY Cortland


Over 25 years ago, when SUNY Cortland enrolled single-digit color-dialing students, a small cohort of faculty set out to prepare the rest of the faculty and professional staff for a very different future.

Today, around a quarter of the student body identifies as non-white / non-latinx and over the course of a couple of decades, around 200 colleagues have prepared for that future that is now here, through The Summer Institute for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice.

This year’s summer institute is full and there is a waiting list of faculty, professionals and administrators to participate in the small, highly personalized training program from Tuesday June 1 through Thursday June 3.

The institute will be moderated by Seth N. Asumah, Distinguished SUNY Professor and Director of the Department of African Studies, Mecke Nagel, Professor of Philosophy and President of the University’s Center for Peace, Ethics and Social Justice, and Lorraine Lopez-Janove, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Its goal is to teach strategies and techniques to develop an anti-racist and inclusive campus.

The Moffett Center Institute, Room 209, will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during these three days. Materials for breakfast, lunch and faculty development will be provided.

This event is presented by the Department of African Studies and the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, in partnership with the sub-committee of the Education Against Racism Working Group.

For more information, contact Asumah or Nagel.

“The Summer Institute for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion began in 1995 after four faculty members, including myself, received faculty development training on multiculturalism, now called Diversity, at Williams College in Massachusetts, ”said Asumah, who is also Carnegie- Diaspora Fellow at the University of Ghana.

Faculty, staff and administrators who attended the 2016 Summer Institute for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice relaxed outside the Lynne Parks 68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House.

After the Williams College experience, Kathryn Russell, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Larry Ashley, the late Professor of Philosophy, and Mary Kennedy, Professor of English SUNY Emeritus, developed several GE 11 courses, Prejudice and Discrimination and SUNY Cortland Diversity.

This pivotal training was organized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as part of a project called “American Commitments: Diversity, Democracy and Liberal Learning,” Asumah explained.

Next, SUNY Cortland President Judson H. Taylor supported the early diversity efforts on campus with the arrival of then-Vice President and Vice President of Academic Affairs Elizabeth Davis-Russell, who would go become president of Tubman University in Liberia, Africa.

Asumah and Davis-Russell founded the Summer Institute, which continues to be endorsed by current president Erik J. Bitterbaum and vice president and vice president of academic affairs Mark Prus.

The Provost office supported the institute from its founding until the last three years, when the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion partnered with the Department of African Studies for this faculty development program. , first under former diversity director James Felton, and currently under Lopez-Janove.

The 2009 Special Training of Trainers Institute brought together representatives from SUNY New Paltz, Oneonta and SUNY, including Carlos Medina 78, SUNY Founding Diversity Manager, front row, second from left.

In the years since training Diversity Facilitators at Williams College, Asumah has participated in more training institutes to strengthen Cortland’s diversity, equity and inclusion projects, including at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Oklahoma. Nagel, his colleague and fellow institute organizer and key co-facilitator since 2004, who previously chaired the university’s Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies, attended with him at the National Diversity Institute in Washington, DC.

Highlights of the Summer Institute over the years include:

  • Around 2007, SUNY Cortland launched its first ethics institute, modeled on the Diversity Institute as a three-day event, subsequently reduced to two days.
  • In 2009, SUNY Cortland hosted the Summer Institute for the Training of Trainers. SUNY Oneonta and SUNY New Paltz were on campus with their diversity teams. Carlos Medina, who graduated from SUNY Cortland in 1978, became Associate Provost and founding director of diversity at SUNY, took part.
  • The Train The Trainer program bringing together three campuses – Cortland, Oneonta and New Paltz – completed a three-year cycle that was jointly funded with $ 50,000 through a joint union / employer grant SUNY and the Diversity Office, the equity and inclusion. Cortland served as consultants for the next two years.
  • Nagel capitalized on her close ties to the German institution, Fulda University, around 2012, when she and Asumah consulted Fulda’s dean of social / cultural studies over a black-faced controversy on their campus. At an anti-racism conference the following year, Nagel gave the opening speech.
  • Institute organizers published a chapter in the Fulda University conference volume presenting the genesis of the Diversity Institute and the general diversity efforts at SUNY Cortland.
    Professor Seth Asumah accepts his 1018 National Role Model for Diversity and Inclusion Award.
  • In 2014, the organizers published the anthology, Diversity, social justice and inclusive excellence: transdisciplinary and global perspectives, published by SUNY Press, which included contributions from former participants. This year’s institute included guests from Fulda University.
  • Asumah and Nagel shared their successful diversity institute formula with Arlington (NY) High School in 2018, training around 1,000 staff there at a one-day event.
  • Back in Cortland, in 2018, the institute hosted Fulda University’s Dean of Social Work, Martina Ritter, for a talk on “German University Structures 101”. A teacher from Arlington High School who sits on the SUNY Cortland Alumni Council joined the institute that year, bringing another colleague with them. The event also hosted a diversity manager from Hudson Valley Community College.
  • Also in 2018, SUNY Cortland was recognized for her diversity efforts and Asumah was honored as a National Model for Diversity and Inclusion by Minority Access Incorporated in Baltimore, Maryland. Bitterbaum and Felton attended the award ceremony.
  • In 2019, Asumah co-led with Felton the last institute before the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a rally in 2020.

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