Cornell University: Three projects awarded Belonging at Cornell innovation grants

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The Presidential Advisors on Diversity and Equity (PADE) have awarded three Belonging at Cornell innovation grants for 2022 programming, for projects addressing a range of topics involving diversity, equity and inclusion on all of Cornell’s campuses.

Similar to last year, PADE had originally sought two projects in its request for proposals, but three projects stood out such that the advisers increased the number of grantees, while staying within the original award total of $30,000.

The grant committee sought proposals that align with the objectives of improving the Cornell experience for students, faculty and staff, and fostering a sense of belonging, promoting fair treatment and supporting the environment of Cornell as a great place to study and work. Collaboration across colleges and units, and a promise to drive sustained impact to the Cornell community, were key criteria for the grant selection.

The grant program is one of the actions taken in response to issues identified through the Belonging at Cornell survey, sent in February 2020 to faculty and staff on the Ithaca, Geneva and Cornell Tech campuses, which asked about their sense of belonging, fair treatment, willingness to recommend Cornell, and experience with marginalizing behaviors.

The three funded projects:

Can You Hear My Voice? The Impact of Untapped Marginalized Groups on the Talent Management Space: This project – a collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), the ILR School, eCornell and the College of Human Ecology (CHE) – will give the Cornell community a chance to “hear the voices” of those in marginalized communities and discover the areas where members of the university can make a difference, including in the hiring of diverse individuals.

The first phase of this project features a daylong symposium, scheduled for April 5, 2023. Keynote speakers from various marginalized groups and community organizations, as well as nationally recognized voices, will be invited to participate. The symposium will also include a panel discussion and a Q&A session.

The second phase will include creation and implementation of specialized trainings for those serving in the talent management space to assist them in understanding how best to attract, recruit and retain individuals within these marginalized groups.

Project leads are: Donna Lynch-Cunningham, director of human resources in A&S; Sandy Dhimitri, director of human resources in CHE; Carol Graubard, interim director of human resources at eCornell; and Lawrence Mancuso, assistant dean for human resources at the ILR School.

B@C (Belonging at Cornell) 360: This project, to be anchored by “Impact Week” (scheduled for Sept. 28-Oct. 4), is a collaboration of the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science; the College of Architecture, Art and Planning; the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; the College of Engineering; Cornell Law School; Cornell Tech; Cornell University Library; the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; and Weill Cornell Medicine.

Impact Week is a new college-wide event that encourages each entity to demonstrate and celebrate the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging through a series of events that reflects their respective fields of study. An inaugural cohort of 30 representatives will then be recruited to form the B@C 360 Collaborative, which will address issues identified in the 2020 Belonging at Cornell survey.

The project concludes with a one-day retreat, where diversity leads within the colleges and units will engage in professional development workshops, team-building activities and other support opportunities.

Project leads are: LeeAnn Roberts, director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Cornell Bowers CIS; and Jami Joyner, director of Diversity Programs in Engineering.

· Fostering a Culture of Support: Belonging at Cornell AgriTech: This project will support underrepresented groups at the Geneva campus, and begin to understand cultural barriers to inclusive outreach programming by creating a cohort of cultural ambassadors, trained in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles, to network across units and provide representation across the institutional hierarchy.

A series of four workshops will be offered to the Cornell AgriTech community, addressing cultural norms and systemic change, and engaging in constructive discussions about difficult DEI issues.

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