The importance of Diversity in People and Ideas
by Valerie Lee, Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer
The Ohio State University recognizes that diversity enriches the educational experience. A diverse learning environment prepares students to be active participants in an increasingly complex, global society.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) promotes the recruitment, retention, and success of students, faculty, and staff who enhance the diversity of the intellectual community at Ohio State. We work to open pathways, strengthen pipelines, and build partnerships in order to make education an accessible goal for all communities.
Undergirding all of ODI’s programmatic efforts is the knowledge that we want to make the shift from a satisfaction with simply having numerous diversity-related activities to an emphasis on impact and outcome. At the end of the day, ODI understands diversity and excellence to be complementary, not antithetical, goals. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion seeks excellence through diversity.
Diversity is at the core of the environment we are creating for the university. In fact, an appreciation for diversity is at the heart of the One University principle. Our success depends on not leaving any talent on the table—this means recruiting and retaining the best students, faculty, and staff, as well as listening to every idea and viewpoint in order to arrive at fair, equitable, and effective solutions.
When I look at the concepts covered in the culture retreats—be curious, respect difference, and be aware of one’s filters—it is clear that diversity is the common thread. In order to remain curious, one must value people who bring different points of view. In order to respect difference, one must be willing to engage others who have different perspectives than one’s own. Recognizing that we all have filters helps open us to see the value of others’ unique contributions.
It is important to deepen our understanding of what it means to be inclusive. Diversity is not narrow; it is made up of all of the parts that create the whole person, such as race, national origin, socioeconomic status, able-bodiedness, gender and sexual orientation, educational background, and family structure. Each of us has a different story; there are chapters that resonate with and overlap others’ stories, like a multi-layered, highly-textured novel.
We all must see diversity as a dividend, not a deficit. Some ways to expand an appreciation for diversity include:
- Read more about other cultures.
- Interact with people from various walks of life.
- Travel to other locales, regions and countries.
- Listen to voices not your own.
Above all else, think of diversity as a verb, as something that one does, as something that requires action, purpose and intentionality. By doing diversity, Ohio State is positioning itself for a multicultural future.