Three projects receive Belonging at Cornell innovation grants

As part of its mission to make Cornell a more diverse and inclusive environment for faculty, staff and students, the Presidential Advisors on Diversity and Equity (PADE) have awarded three Belonging at Cornell innovation grants of $15,000 apiece for 2021 programming.

The grant program is one of the Belonging at Cornell (BaC) initiatives and aligns with the action-oriented response to issues identified through the BaC 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 grant committee sought proposals that align with institutionwide objectives of improving the Cornell experience for students, faculty and staff, and foster a sense of belonging, promote fair treatment and support the environment of Cornell as a great place to study and work. Collaboration across colleges/units, and promise to drive sustained impact to the Cornell community, were key criteria for the grant selection.

The grants program was originally announced for the award of two grants of $20,000 for 2021 projects. However, of the 16 excellent proposals and five outstanding finalists, three stood out such that the Presidential Advisors increased the number of grantees.

The three funded projects:

• Summit on Entrepreneurship and Equity: Project organizers will plan a two-day virtual event that includes keynote speakers, workshops, discussions and other activities to allow engagement by participants. Objectives will include increasing the diversity of individuals who serve as entrepreneurial leaders; and redefining entrepreneurial success to focus on contributions to social, racial, environmental and climate justice. The focus of the event blends two of Cornell’s key priority areas, and includes collaboration between the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM).

Project leads include: Chelsea D. Specht, associate dean for diversity and inclusion, CALS; Melanie J. Ragin, assistant dean for inclusion and academic excellence, CVM; and Michelle Duguid, associate dean for diversity, inclusion and belonging, SC Johnson.

• Telling Our Stories: A Public History of Belonging at Cornell: This project will bring together faculty, students, staff and alumni to document important moments that have shaped Cornell’s social environment and climate for belonging in relationship to local, national and global events since its founding more than 150 years ago. The resulting tool will provide an opportunity to connect individuals to resources and see themselves as part of Cornell. It includes collaboration between the Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI), the Cornell Public History Initiative, Cornell University Library and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

Project leads include: Mathew L. Ouellett, executive director, CTI; Melina Ivanchikova, associate director for inclusive teaching, CTI; and Rob Vanderlan, senior associate director, CTI.

• Intercultural Understanding Workshop: This project, based in the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs (OVPIA) and administered by the Office of Global Learning, addresses international students’ need for belonging at Cornell and feelings of disconnection, especially given recent COVID-19 travel restrictions. Based on the concept of “story circles,” the project will train workshop leaders to support students as they share their experiences and stories. Programming for first-year international students will focus on the intersections of nationality and other social identities, which aligns with the audience focus for Belonging at Cornell.

Project leads include: Gustavo Flores-Macías, associate vice provost for international affairs; Brandon Lanners, executive director, Office of Global Learning; and Michelle Cox, director of the English Language Support Office and senior lecturer at the Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines.

The PADE advisory group includes chair Avery August, Ph.D. ’94, vice provost for academic affairs; Angela Winfield, J.D. ’08, associate vice president for inclusion and workforce diversity; and Marla Love, the Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Interim Dean of Students. They are joined by Victoria White, project leader in the Office of the President, who helps facilitate and implement Belonging at Cornell strategies.

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Abby Butler