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The Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs
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Committee for Community & Diversity (CCD) - History
CCD Initial Recommendations to President Fuhrman - October 26, 2007
I am writing to provide information about the work of the President’s Committee for Community & Diversity (CCD). As many are aware the CCD was established in 2001 as a result of the 1999 Diversity Task Force Report. CCD is a college-wide cross constituency committee that includes four faculty, five student senators, three professional staff, three union members, representatives from the Office of Student Activities and Programs, Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities, and International Services along with the Provost, President and me. The CCD’s purpose through the years has been and remains to advise the President, to engage TC’s college-wide diversity and community building and civility projects, and to address broad concerns raised in the report.
The CCD has worked on these ongoing climate and communication issues through original and collaborative programming, activities and actions. Grants were provided for student research in diversity and to encourage the creation of activities to educate and create community opportunities involving race, gender, class, disabilities, homophobia, religion and intellectual concerns.
Our sense of collective urgency about connecting this work to the mainstream of TC life has been revived in response to the racist and anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred not only within our own community, but across the University and in the larger society.
On October 16th CCD called a special meeting in advance of our regularly scheduled October 24th meeting. The CCD has recommended to the President that we adopt the theme “What Kind of Community are We? What Kind of Community Do We Want to Be?” This overarching theme is grounded in a framework that encompasses the following eight area of focus:
I. Recruitment/Hiring/Retention - The goal is to hire and retain more faculty of color. Creative ways must be used and resources applied. This is not just about “recruitment” and “we can’t find any.” A hiring and retention plan will be provided to the President. Academic programs must reflect on how they can better create a day-to-day work environment for their colleagues and eliminate the incivility and fear that junior and senior faculty have at TC. The President has called upon Dr. Clement A. Price, noted historian from Rutgers University to assist with faculty in providing guidance and opportunities to discuss relevant concerns safely. Dr. Price is the Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History and directs the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience.
II. Lift Every Voice – The goal is to continue difficult dialogues on the TC climate involving academics, employment and TC culture. CCD will host and support others who will provide these opportunities to break bread together and safely listen, learn and identify hurts and problems.
III. Celebrations – The goal is to recognize the goodness in each of us and all of us while we do this institutional difficult work. Celebrate all the greatness we do have among us.
IV. Climate Institute – The goal is to support the work of faculty and staff to improve the TC climate in the classroom and in the workplace. Part of this includes increasing and retaining students of color, and reviewing our curriculum to ensure that students in all programs are regularly exposed to multicultural courses.
V. Historical Education Project – The goal is to deepen the historical and political understandings of hate symbols such as the noose, swastika and other symbols – provide seminars, teach-ins, forum, about the extermination of people through lynching and concentration camps and the interrelationship of U.S history.
VI. Research – The goal is to research and provide data to support the long continuous work involving TC’s climate.
VII. Communication – Lack of communication continues to be identified as a significant problem at all levels and it is systemic. By communication we mean everything from informing the community when an incident occurs, to being transparent about policies, procedures and expectations. The goal is to examine the components and do what it takes to make our communications regular, timely and inclusive. It is fundamental to rebuilding trust throughout the college.
VIII. Build Alliances Across Columbia University – The goal is build connections and support concerning Columbia-wide climate issues.
We invite the many offices, organizations and departments to organize actions around this theme. We want conversations, events, plans and actions to be happening in as many different places and in as many different forms with as many different voices as possible.
CCD and the Office for Diversity and Community cannot and should not do this work alone. We can identify problems, give voice to them, lead, guide, collaborate, and provide resources. The urgency we have today must be sustained over the coming years until we meet our goals.
While we do not expect all the issues to be resolved immediately, open dialogue among the TC’s constituencies is an important and painful step towards making your voices heard, healing and becoming the type of community we want to be.
Lastly, you will see various programs, initiatives and activities from students, staff and faculty that squarely fit into the above eight areas. Please do not see them as isolated or siloed. They are all part of the ongoing institutional effort.
Janice S. Robinson, Chair, Committee for Community and Diversity
Initial Committee members: Jasmine Alvarez, Marion Boultbee, Ed.D., Michelle Cammarata, Orlando Cartagena, Jr., Madhabi Chatterji, Ph.D., Yvonne Destin, Sam Fugazzotto, Susan Fuhrman, Ph.D., Joseph Gilchrist, Ena Haines, Tom James, Ph.D, Richard Keller, Ph.D., Naaz Khan, Joe King, Xiaodong Lin, Ph.D., Mark Noizumi, Marcia Ruiz, John Saxman, Ph.D.