Recent Blog Posts

In the months leading up to my transition to Director, Equity and Inclusion for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) I spent a significant amount of time thinking about what was needed within CFAES and what the title of this new position needed to convey.  In deciding on Director, Equity and Inclusion, I left out diversity and avoided the title, “Chief Diversity Officer”. This decision was driven, in part, by what the title; “Chief Diversity Officer” often carries with it, a sole focus on Affirmative Action, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Compliance (AA/EEO).  These are important legal mandates and this position does provide over site for these as required by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).  However, our goal in CFAES is not only to adhere to these laws but to move beyond what “we have to do” and to bring true culture change to the college.
 
Opting for a title that incorporates equity and inclusion without diversity does not mean that diversity is not a priority for me or the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.  Diversity is the foundation on which we are building.  Our goal is to create a college-wide culture that is and inclusive of all faculty, staff and students and the diversity that we all bring.  You can see below that diversity is difficult to define with a just few words. Given its breadth, diversity is all around us.  
Diversity=race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability, gender, sex, socio economic status, sexual orientation, veteran status, gender identity and expression, birth order, place (where we grew up), personality, thought process, research interests, personality….the list is almost endless
 
With all that diversity encompasses we are diverse as a college.  At the same time, there are areas of diversity where we are underrepresented.  Increasing the numbers of underrepresented populations is a goal. However, increasing numbers is meaningless if we have an environment where faculty, staff, and students do not feel like they belong.  If the environment is not inclusive CFAES will not be a place where students, faculty, and staff want to be.  Our college is on a journey to create the best place to work, learn and to grow.  I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions for future topics.
 
October - National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Celebrating 70 Years! 1945-2015
"My Disability is One Part of Who I Am."
 
Paul A. Strachan devoted much of his life to fighting discrimination against people with disabilities; a decision he said was based on his experience of  being “…cast upon the human scrap pile, despite a fierce and intense desire to live, to work, and to achieve"  because of a disability. 
 
Born in Perry, Michigan, on February 26, 1892.  Strachan reported being barred from military service in World War I because of a disability; his experience of discrimination motivated Strachan to work  on passage of the Federal Vocational Training Act of 1920 (known as the Smith-Fess Act) to provide job training so disabled workers could return to work. 
 
Strachan broke his spine and became deaf after an automobile accident in 1940 leading him to propose a cross disability for coalition to advocate for disability rights.  After existing disability organizations rejected his idea he founded, the American Federation of the Physically Handicapped (AFPH) which brought together people with sensory, mobility, and physical disabilities. The AFPH focused on ending employment discrimination calling for improved vocational rehabilitation services, a quota in the hiring of people with disabilities, to have the first week of October declared “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”, and for the formation of the President's Committee on National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week to coordinate national observances of the week.
 
Strachan died on September 17, 1972; his activism pushed the federal government to be more responsive to Americans with disabilities, an expansion of rehabilitation services and a nationwide campaign to encourage employers to hire people with disabilities.
 
What can you do to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month? 
          Visit http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/ 
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Adapted from:
Jennings, Audra. "Strachan, Paul A." In Burch, Susan, ed. Encyclopedia of American Disability History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc.
http://www.fofweb.com/History/MainPrintPage.asp?iPin=EADH0676&DataType=AmericanHistory&WinType=Free  (accessed September 7, 2015).