On Sept. 27, Chancellor Kent Syverud addressed University Senate at its first meeting of the Fall 2023 semester. His remarks were as follows: Thank you, Professor [Kira] Reed. It’s a pleasure to see so many of you in person. We’re…
Q&A With Interim Co-Chairs of the Academic Leadership for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility
As part of the commitment to making Syracuse University a place that is welcoming and inclusive to all, each academic unit has a designated diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) leader. These DEIA leaders report to either a dean or an academic unit head and are responsible for assisting in the cultivation of an inclusive climate in their respective areas. In addition to their individual roles, they are part of a collective, the Academic Leadership for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (ALDEIA), formerly known as the Inclusive Leadership Assembly.
ALDEIA will provide counsel to the incoming vice president of diversity and inclusion, Mary Grace A. Almandrez, as well as to leadership in the schools and colleges; shares knowledge and resources among its membership; and supports the resiliency of those who conduct DEIA work across the academic units.
ALDEIA’s interim co-chairs Diane Crawford, executive director for institutional culture in the Whitman School of Management, and Suzette Melendez, associate dean for equity and inclusion and professor in the College of Law, discuss ALDEIA’s focus for this academic year and beyond in the following Q&A.
Q: How would you describe ALDEIA?
Melendez: I would best describe the group as a collective of dedicated people who bring multiple perspectives about DEIA to the table. ALDEIA consists of the appointed diversity leads from each of the individual schools, colleges and academic units, hence our new name the Academic Leadership for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility.
Q: What is ALDEIA’s focus?
Melendez: We lead change in the academic and work environments to foster a climate focused on inclusive excellence, anti-racist practices and professional development.
Q: What are some of ALDEIA’s top priorities?
Crawford: Each of the respective units have different priorities based upon the needs of their demographic. However, I would say that ALDEIA is centralized around the following pillars:
- Lead the diversity and inclusion efforts in our respective units
- Identify, define and implement best practices
- Identify DEIA opportunities for improvement and offer resolutions
Q: How does ALDEIA work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI)?
Crawford: This year, in lieu of the appointment of a vice president of diversity and inclusion, ALDIEA has partnered with ODI as we mapped out our focus and set our current priorities. Moving forward, we are eager to present our recommendations to the new vice president for diversity and inclusion and to receive her feedback and direction on ALDEIA’s current and future work.
Q: How has ALDEIA helped to improve campus diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility?
Melendez: As a group, it works to our benefit to be a part of different organizations and programs on campus to stay abreast of the campus community’s needs. In addition to our numerous individual contributions that I believe add to the richness of the ALDEIA, we are focused on the following:
- Gathering and monitoring key demographic data for each respective unit to create tailored strategies
- Reviewing data from campus surveys, such as the campus climate survey, to help improve our strategic efforts
- Establishing baseline responsibilities and resources for our respective roles within the schools and colleges
- Responding to the draft of the DEIA five-year strategic plan and ensuring our work is aligned within its framework
- Creating professional development workshops for faculty and staff
- Partnering with different departments and organizations on campus to push DEIA efforts forward
- Partnering with ODI to develop dialogue circles to facilitate conversations around race
Q: How can the campus community engage with ALDEIA?
Melendez: Members of the campus community can contact their individual school or college representative if they have any questions, suggestions and/or concerns.
The 2021-2022 ALDEIA members are the following:
- Kal Alston, School of Education
- Kishi Animashaun Ducre, College of Arts and Sciences
- Tyler Bell, College of Professional Studies
- Lori Brown, School of Architecture
- Eboni Britt (interim liaison), Office of Diversity and Inclusion
- Melissa Chessher, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
- Diane Crawford (interim 2021-22 co-chair), Martin J. Whitman School of Management
- Karen Davis, College of Engineering and Computer Science
- Martha Diede, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence
- Chandice Haste-Jackson, David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics
- Jeffery Mangram, Provost Faculty Fellow, Inclusive Teaching
- Gladys McCormick, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
- Suzette Melendez (interim 2021-22 co-chair), College of Law
- Lisa Moeckel, Syracuse University Libraries
- Dawit Negussey, The Graduate School
- Carol Ruffin/Milton Laufer, College of Visual and Performing Arts
- Jennifer Stromer-Galley, School of Information Studies
- Salatha Willis, Syracuse University Athletics Department