Cornell is one of five organizations to win a U.S. Department of Labor prestigious 2007 Exemplary Voluntary Efforts, or EVE, Award. The agency noted that the university's historical commitment to diversity played a key role in the choice.
Cornell earned the award for its "outstanding efforts to develop and maintain exemplary EEO [equal employment opportunity] programs," according to the labor department.
"Cornell is committed to being a great place to work for its increasingly diverse workforce. We have been aggressive in developing programs to achieve our diversity goals," said Cornell Vice President for Human Resources Mary Opperman. "We are very proud that the Department of Labor is recognizing our commitment with this important award."
The history of diversity on campus goes back to 1865 when Cornell founder Ezra Cornell declared, "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study," which became the institution's motto as well as a driving philosophical force that continues to this day. That statement was amplified by co-founder Andrew Dickson White's 1874 statement: "If even one [student of color] offered himself and passed the examinations we should receive him even if all our five hundred [white] students were to ask for dismissal on that account." Cornell university was the founding institution for Alpha Phi Alpha, the first undergraduate African-American fraternity, it established the first Asian fraternity in the Ivy League, and was one of the first co-educational institutions in the east.
That commitment continues today. When President David Skorton assumed leadership of Cornell in 2006, he made it clear that diversity continues as a top university priority:
"I believe that a diverse work and educational environment benefits not only the individuals for whom opportunities are expanded, but also the entire university community and that our efforts have an impact locally, nationally and internationally."
Also in 2006, Provost Carolyn "Biddy" Martin created a diversity plan for employment and education with the goal of increasing representation of people of color and women among students, faculty and staff.
"The voluntary efforts for which Cornell has been recognized include its holistic approach to diversity efforts, among which are its work/life programs, the bias response program, and its success in increasing racial and gender diversity in the skilled trades," said Lynette Chappell-Williams, director of the Office of Workforce Diversity, Equity and Life Quality. Cornell's other commitments to diversity and inclusiveness since 2000 include:
Because of this multipronged approach, Cornell recently has also won awards for its inclusive policies for such diverse groups as workers age 50 and older; working mothers; lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual students; and military veterans.
Representatives from Cornell University will receive the EVE award on behalf of the university Nov. 8 at 11 a.m. at the labor department in Washington, D.C.