Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

July 13, 2017

Retreat Focused on Building Skilled, Active Diversity Advocates

Eddie Moore Jr. addressed diversity retreat attendees and stressed the importance of learning and enhancing their skills in all areas of diversity.

Eddie Moore Jr. addressed diversity retreat attendees and stressed the importance of learning and enhancing their skills in all areas of diversity.

Eddie Moore Jr. is certain that true racial integration won’t happen in America without efforts such as Pitt’s Year of Diversity.

“Integration without education doesn’t work,” said Moore, keynote speaker for the second annual University-wide Diversity Retreat and director of The Privilege Institute in Green Bay, Wisc. “People today in 2017 are still thinking like its 1917.” And parts of the country are “still segregated like its 1917,” he added.

Moore opened the event last month, which included a slate of diversity workshops, by noting that the creation of a diverse society is complex work that is far from complete in America. “I didn’t grow up with diversity skills,” he said of his Southwestern Florida childhood in a majority black neighborhood. “I like to say I had anti-diversity skills. This is some of the challenge we’re still facing today in major cities. We’ve got to go to the next level on some of these issues.”

Working toward diversity means creating equity in more areas of life than race relations, he said. The job that universities like Pitt face, Moore explained, is building skill sets in all areas of diversity. He believes that any modern workplace, but particularly educational institutions, must ask: “What kind of folks are you sending into the world? What kind of skill sets are they possessing?”

Creating a Pitt community knowledgeable about improving diversity and inclusion is not just instilling “knowledge for the sake of knowledge,” Moore concluded in his address to attendees. “This is knowledge for the sake of action.”

Looking Back on a Year of Diverse Programming

Kacey Marra (left) and Waverly Duck (right), Year of Diversity committee co-chairs, led a workshop reviewing the year's successful events and it's impact on future programming.

Kacey Marra (left) and Waverly Duck (right), Year of Diversity committee co-chairs, led a workshop reviewing the year’s successful events and it’s impact on future programming.

One workshop marked the finale of the Year of Diversity, which concluded June 30. The Year of Diversity was the third annual effort directed by the Office of the Provost to focus the Pitt community on a single topic.

The workshop was led by the Year of Diversity’s committee co-chairs: faculty members Waverly Duck, from the Dietrich School of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Sociology, and Kacey Marra, from the School of Medicine’s Department of Plastic Surgery and the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Bioengineering.

Duck pointed out the wealth of events spawned by the Year of Diversity – more than 200 on all five Pitt campuses, including 168 supported by up to $5,000 each in matching funds from the Office of the Provost. Even before the Oct. 10 kickoff celebration, the year began with an address from a co-founder of the national Social Justice Training Institute at new student orientation, followed by such varied events as a minority, disabled and disadvantaged business seminar; a talk on “The Case for Diversity in Healthcare”; an indigenous education symposium; a concert of South Asian music; and a presentation on incarcerated women and the realities they face behind bars.

Duck said the Year of Diversity taught him the many ways his colleagues thought about diversity – as both an experience and an identity, for instance – as well as the large variety of diversity resources on campus. “We wanted to make sure we were speaking to a host of experiences,” he said of the Year’s organizing effort. “There were issues I was never really aware of that I am now mindful of.”

Added Marra: “We hope that some of the events that were found to be most impactful will continue. How do we make this not just the Year of Diversity but the decade – make it as long as we need to?”

The Year of Diversity lives on, Marra explained, in the continuing work of its organizing committee and in new University efforts to create diversity-focused events and opportunities. These include workshops to aid faculty in including diversity in many disciplines, as well as new diversity research funding – up to $5,000 per project – from the University Research Council for faculty, post-docs and graduate students.

Title IX: A Diversity Law That Comes With Responsibilities

A workshop on Title IX showed Pitt employees how to handle complaints under its rules. The 1972 federal law forbids, “on the basis of sex … discrimination under any education program,” has also brought important new responsibilities to University personnel. Because understanding Title IX requirements will better equip the university to serve its entire community equitably, representatives from the Title IX office (Katie Pope, the University’s Title IX coordinator, and Title IX Specialist Carrie Benson) directed staff and faculty attending the retreat on how to apply the law in classrooms and offices during one of the day’s other workshops.

The law governs how universities handle incidents of everything from sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination to sexual violence. And, Pope noted, all Pitt employees have a duty to report incidents of sexual misconduct to her office, if informed about them by a student or colleague – even if the victim, or “reporting party,” is reluctant to take action.

“It’s rare that the reporting party comes to us directly,” Pope said.

Once the Title IX office is contacted, a representative will reach out to the victim via email, to which he or she may respond when ready – even if that is months later.

The first step in handling complaints is a safety assessment of the victim’s situation. “We want to help the individual get back to the classroom or back to the work space as quickly and safely as possible,” Pope said.

Pope and Benson walked the workshop attendees through the process triggered once a complaint is filed with their office: Victims can decide whether they wish to contact police or ask for an investigation of the incident. The University may take interim measures to restrict contact between victim and alleged perpetrator, or institute informal procedures such as educating or warning the latter. If a formal investigation finds that a staff or faculty member has violated a University policy, or a student has acted contrary to the student code of conduct, they may be sanctioned, and both sides may appeal.

Although it has been 45 years since Title IX was enacted, each generation of employees must learn how to implement the law – and how the law makes Pitt a better environment for everyone to learn and work. A new video explaining employee reporting responsibilities under Title IX is available on the Title IX website.

Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program

During the retreat, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion also awarded its first Diversity and Inclusion Certificates to the inaugural group of staff and faculty graduating from the new program.

Participants complete the program’s two required and four elective workshops, offered through the Faculty and Staff Development Program, at their own pace, after which they take part in a capstone conversation led by a staff member from the diversity and inclusion office. Course registration is available by visiting the Faculty and Staff Development Program page on the Office of Human Resource’s website.


Marty Levine,, 412-758-4859

Leave a Reply