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Defining Diversity

In defining diversity, we draw from Marilyn Loden who conceptualizes diversity as ”those important human characteristics that impact individuals’ values, opportunities, and perceptions of self and others” (Marilyn Loden, Implementing Diversity. 1996 Boston: McGraw-Hill.) Because we define diversity in a broad manner, our definition covers, but is not limited to, familiar characteristics involving gender, race, and ethnicity. It expands to include religion, sexual orientation, age, class and able-bodiedness. It reaches more broadly to include local, national and global cultural variation as well as to a variety of other manners in which individuals and groups are distinct in meaningful ways. We also recognize that the various social and cultural articulations of these differences involve systems of explicit and implicit stratification, inequalities, discrimination and oppression. Recognition, social organization, meanings, and understanding of diversity and stratification change over time and from place to place, culture to culture, as do their social and individual consequences.

While we believe that diversity knowledge, understanding and practice are beneficial to the self and the community at large, we share Dorie Tuggle’s sentiments regarding the importance of diversity in the organizational/business world:

“Diversity is not just about race and sex, and that’s probably one of the biggest areas of misunderstanding and inaccuracy that we face. Diversity is about understanding the differences and leveraging the similarities for any organization to become successful...I’ve always seen a correlation between success and an environment that has respect for the individual...If you don’t value diversity, you don’t value you being in business...And I have yet to meet someone in business who doesn’t want to stay in business.”

(Dorie Tuggle, manager of diversity and equal opportunity programs at Lockhead Martin Aeronautics Co., cited in DiversityInc.com, From the Pew to the Boardroom, Diversity’s About Inclusion, Dec. 2, 2002, by Ruth Zeilberger, accessed 12/2/02.)

This diversity definition is borrowed from the UI Diversity Certificate Program. Thank you to Drs. Storrs and Mihelich.

President's Diversity Council

Historically, the University of Idaho has a progression of leading initiatives and practices that highlight not only its commitment to diversity, but the fundamental essentialness of diversity to the University's character–it's part of our central mission and obligation as a land-grant university and our status as a leading research institution. Some examples of how the University's commitment to diversity is demonstrated in tangible ways include the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, the CAMP program, the establishment of programs such as the Women’s Center, Multicultural Affairs, the LGBTQA Office and the Native American Student Center. We have certificate programs in Diversity and Stratification, as well as Global Justice, and have courses of study in Latin American and Native American studies.

A fully committed and active Diversity Council will enable us to work towards a University of Idaho in which diversity is woven into all we do: in our courses; in our research; in the type of individuals we select as our students, faculty and staff; and in how we welcome and include diversity in our work places and our classrooms. We must demonstrate tangibly, with depth and breadth, the Goal Four Team's “Our Culture, Our Commitment” statement, which, says in part, that our “University is a nurturing place to learn and work, where people are engaged, friendly and helpful. We are committed to ongoing, honest self-examination of our current organization, culture and climate, and to continuous improvement in each these areas.”