Respect and Inclusion at UCF
UCF has a long history of affirming that diversity is a valuable asset to our educational mission, of celebrating our diversity, and of providing access to students across the vast array of identity, experience, class, race, and gender. Before many people were beginning to recognize the distinction between the fact and richness of “diversity” and the act of “inclusion” to create community, space, institutional systems and culture that go beyond tolerance to respect and empowerment, UCF set inclusion as its aspiration.
Why value diversity and inclusion so highly that these are part of our university’s top five goals? If you’re a “show me the data” person, the research repeatedly shows that organizations, businesses, and communities further their mission when contributions from diverse participants are provided equal forum.* UCF is on the cusp of Hispanic-Serving Institution status and not far from Minority-Serving. We serve a diverse community and have the opportunity to model inclusion in a country struggling with polarized viewpoints. UCF is strongest as a higher education institution, employer, and community leader when we bring diverse thought and experience to our decision-making, teaching, research, learning, and interactions among community members. Respect for and the inclusion of diverse voices
- drive innovative thought and action;
- maximize the talent and contributions of faculty, staff, and students;
- improve recruitment and retention; and
- build a campus more representative of our constituents and Central Florida partners.
Our university theme of RESPECT UCF seeks to persuade the UCF community to
- engage with each other, recognizing and valuing each life as exceptional, in agreement or disagreement, in a manner that appreciates our distinctive experience and perspective as an opportunity to learn and to professionally achieve our highest potential, and
- contribute to and hold each other accountable for a culture that honors diversity, expects nondiscriminatory language, acknowledges the dignity of every individual, welcomes the opportunity to learn from and empower each other, and recognizes that we are all a collection of identities and experiences rather than a living symbol of a singular stereotype.
RESPECT UCF is not an isolated event. It is intended as both a long term framework for education and dialogue and a clarion call to actualize our aspirations of an inclusive community. RESPECT UCF requires bold action by our institutional leaders and mechanisms, and daily commitment by students, faculty and staff. It may require you to get uncomfortable, to self-reflect, to be authentic, and to advocate for others and facilitate their voices. We can model a community of inclusion by expecting respect and giving it in equal measure.
RESPECT UCF is for each of us and requires each of us. It is a collective effort that has the potential to elevate us all to more enlightened citizenship.
“How Diversity Can Drive Innovation” Harvard Business Review, by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall and Laura Sherbin. December 2013.
“How Diversity Makes Us Smarter: Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working.” Scientific American, by Katherine W. Phillips. October 1, 2014.