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University of Pittsburgh

October 27, 2016

Got an idea for a diversity year program?

To date, nearly 40 proposals have been approved for funding by the Year of Diversity committee, Provost Patricia E. Beeson told Senate Council last week.

“It’s my hope that this Year of Diversity is not going to be just a set of events but that it’s going to be a year in which we look deeply into our community and how we interact, and that we actually establish structures and a culture that helps us move forward and create a more diverse and inclusive community,” Beeson said.

“We want to really develop a deeper appreciation on campus and within our community of all the different types of people that we have here: People who have different ethnic backgrounds, different gender identities, different political ideas. We have a very diverse group of people here on campus and we need to increase our awareness and appreciation of difference,” she said.

“At the same time, I think it’s really important that we start thinking about more purposefully not just why we appreciate all the difference, but why we think we’re stronger when we bring those differences together — why diversity in and of itself within our community is important,” the provost said.

“We need to remind ourselves and our students that one of the core tenets of the academy is that we think that through the interchange of ideas with people who have different views we actually learn more. We advance knowledge through the exchange,” Beeson said.

“Sometimes those exchanges are hard, but to talk with people who have different views is something that helps advance us, advance the academy, advance the country,” she said.

“I think there’s probably no more important time than right now in the U.S. to be thinking about these issues: How do we engage in productive conversations with people who have different political views than we do, who are coming from a different perspective on an issue?

“It’s something that I think we need to practice and consciously engage in, particularly right now.”

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During the spring Senate plenary session, Beeson declared academic year 2016-17 the Year of Diversity in response to a Senate Council task force on diversity and inclusion’s recommendation. (See April 14 University Times.)

The Provost’s office is providing matching funds of up to $5,000 for lectures, workshops and other events that advance the Year of Diversity initiative.

Proposals will be accepted until Jan. 15. Application forms and a calendar of events are posted at www.yearofdiversity.pitt.edu/.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 49 Issue 5

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