As you know, we have designated the upcoming academic year the Year of Diversity. I anticipate the year will be full of opportunities to recognize and appreciate the full range of differences among us from our cultures, nationalities, and gender, to our preferences, ages, religions and political perspectives.
The Year of Diversity will also allow us to reflect on the value of diversity, how it strengthens systems (biological and organizational) and communities. As a University, we understand that the interaction of different ideas and perspectives is fundamental to the advancement of knowledge; it is my hope that the Year of Diversity will allow us to engage directly with this core belief and renew our commitment to diversity as essential to the advancement of our mission.
Finally, to fully realize the benefits of diversity that we espouse requires listening to and engaging in meaningful dialogue with people whose views and perspectives are different from our own. Developing this ability should be part of any college education, but public discourse and events on and off university campuses in recent years suggest that it is not. It is my hope that we can use the Year of Diversity to renew our commitment to both modeling and purposefully developing this ability to engage with difference.
A committee of faculty, staff, and students is being created to coordinate the Year of Diversity. But the real work, as always, will happen in the schools, campuses, departments, and other units across the University. I ask that you begin working within your area to identify programs and projects that will strengthen diversity within your area, and suggest you develop programs and perhaps set up committees or use existing committees to lead your efforts to advance the goals of the Year of Diversity.
We anticipate a lively year of student, faculty, and staff discussions and events around the topic. To encourage these efforts, my office will provide matching funds (up to $5,000) to support lectures, workshops, and other events focused on diversity and promoting the values described above. An online form for submissions is available here.
Please share this message with your faculty and staff and encourage them to apply. A web site with more information will be launched soon.
Thank you in advance for your efforts to make this a successful initiative. I look forward to working with you on creative and impactful projects and programs in the months ahead.
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor
University of Pittsburgh