Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Help to Ensure All Students Can Thrive
As the Whitman School continues to celebrate its new core values, students, faculty, staff and alumni continue to strive toward an all-inclusive community where those of diverse backgrounds and thoughts come together. In an effort to do so, the Whitman community, led by Diane Crawford, executive director of institutional culture, has created and implemented opportunities for conversation, collaboration and education around diversity, inclusion and equity. These initiatives will ensure the Whitman School is creating lasting positive change to foster a welcoming and comfortable community for all students.
IN THE CLASSROOM
Each day, students attend classes relevant to their majors to complete their degrees and prepare for a career. Companies always search for candidates who have education and experience, but employers now look for much more — an ability to work in a diverse setting.
From the first day Whitman students walk into class their first year, they should expect an inviting environment with the chance to explore any opportunity they may be curious about. Through the Goodman IMPRESS Program, first-year students engage in discussion and activities that invite them to think critically and listen closely to their peers. Students learn best from each other, and the Whitman School is anticipating another successful first-year experience for students with focused conversation and small group activities.
In addition to the transition into Whitman and the college experience, students will continue to have a comprehensive and productive conversation inside and outside the classroom through curriculum revisions and workshops at the Whitman School. With experiential learning, field trips and educational activities, students will engage in both informal and formal settings to work in diverse situations and learn from their peers. Crawford hopes to soon see new required courses for all Syracuse University students to learn and grow throughout their time here.
“These facilitated courses take a deep dive into who you are as a student and understanding the world around you and the diversity of it,” says Crawford. “It brings together students of all different backgrounds and is a great learning experience.”
Among students, faculty members will echo these initiatives in representing all demographics and teaching students how to recognize what a diverse workplace is. “We have to ensure that we have a faculty that represents our student body,” says Crawford.
A GLOBAL STUDENT BODY
One aspect of a global business education for some Whitman students is the experience of traveling abroad. Not all students choose this experience, but Crawford insists every student should be able to and want to pursue this option. “Business is global now. We need to broaden their perspective on how valuable these opportunities are and answer any questions about the resources available,” she says.
By bridging the gap between the Whitman School and the Syracuse Abroad program, students will learn about the opportunities and resources available to experience a global setting and be ahead of the curve in their fields.
Through more informational sessions and collaborations with Syracuse Abroad, more students will be able to immerse themselves in the global market. Crawford says, “We have to make these intentional outreaches to students; they may just not know there are tools available to help them.”
The stigma of asking for help rings true for many college students who may be afraid of seeking guidance throughout their time away from home. Throughout the next semester, the Whitman School aims to create more accessible resources for students and simple ways to acquire them. For students traveling overseas to attend the Whitman School, it may be a much more difficult and daunting experience, so having tools for any students to succeed will ensure an inclusive and comforting environment throughout college.
HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING
After 10 months of introducing a new role to the Whitman School, Crawford reflects on her past year and what has been most rewarding so far.
Crawford says she is most proud of the first year that the Whitman School was able to send a team of four students to the Kelley School of Business National Diversity Case Competition at Indiana University. The 42 teams at the competition were made up of diverse students all studying business management. The goal was to solve a real-life business opportunity for the 3M Company. Whitman students had an opportunity to discuss diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace and were able to network with professionals from major corporations. In its first year, the Whitman team finished in seventh place.
“It was wonderful watching this diverse group of students address and try to solve this business case. These students blew it out of the water, having never done this before. I was so proud,” says Crawford, who is looking forward to next year and sending another team.
BEYOND THE CLASSROOM
The Whitman School would not be complete without its close-knit alumni network that supports students throughout their Whitman experience and beyond. Whitman alumni are committed to fostering and enhancing an inclusive community and will be involved in mentorship programs and workshops for students, faculty and staff members. When working on recruitment objectives and attaining new students each year, alumni can be a great asset. “Our alumni can be a very influential, supportive mechanism to connect with the populations of our student body,” says Crawford.
As the Whitman School continues to create an ideal culture for students, Crawford is considering the future student body and how to stay ahead of the curve. “When you look at the emerging population, the students will represent a diverse group of people from all different backgrounds,” she says. “Those universities that are paying attention to the changing demographics are preparing their university to better serve underrepresented groups.”
For universities and their business strategies, one size does not fit all. In continuing development of current and future initiatives, the Whitman community is striving for excellence, says Crawford. “We need to focus on what is required to ensure every individual feels welcome, feels supported and can thrive here.”
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