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Inclusive Excellence Podcast: Connecting past to present with the "Any Person, Many Stories" digital exhibition

In this episode of the Inclusive Excellence Podcast, Melina Ivanchikova and Rob Vanderlan from the Center for Teaching Innovation join cohosts Erin Sember-Chase and Toral Patel to share their digital exhibition “Any Person, Many Stories—Histories of Exclusion and Inclusion at Cornell.”

What began as a vision in 2020 grew into a collection of stories that unravel many of the untold truths of Cornell’s history. When given the opportunity to lead the project, Ivanchikova and Vanderlan turned to the role of storytelling to connect the present Cornell community to its past.

“It's a public history project,” Ivanchikova explained. “So, we wanted to have the stories be from members of our own community—students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members who had a deep involvement.”

The digital exhibition is made up of several stories from individuals who participated in key moments or orchestrated change at the University. The Cornell Botanic Gardens name change, the creation of queer-inclusive housing and the history of the MRS degree are a few stories that Ivanchikova and Vanderlan explore in the episode. As stories continue to be shared, the pair hope that their project will increase a sense of belonging among members of the Cornell community today.

“The process of activism, the process of advocacy, of people building communities, finding belonging, and advocating for particular groups is ever present,” Vanderlan expressed. “Everywhere you look in Cornell history, you find that. So, telling those stories becomes really important, and it helps people at Cornell today see themselves as a part of a long litany of advocacy.”

Hear more about the project on Episode 65: Connecting Past to Present: A Conversation About “Any Person, Many Stories” Exhibition. Visit to access the episode and transcript.

About the Inclusive Excellence Podcast

Join Erin Sember-Chase and Toral Patel from the Department of Inclusion and Belonging for a bi-weekly podcast series where they explore various topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at work. During each episode's interview, they provide a platform for campus colleagues in various roles to share their lived experiences, thoughts and ideas around how to create cultures of belonging, especially in the workplace. You can listen to this podcast on your phone, at your desk, on your way to work, while you are taking a break, even while you get ready for bed! 

Do you have a topic you would like discussed on the podcast, or want to recommend someone doing awesome work around campus? Contact

Grace DePaull is the Diversity & Inclusion Media Assistant with the Department of Inclusion and Belonging in the Division of Human Resources.

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