by Dr. Philip M. Orlando
Director of Academic Affairs
University of Phoenix, Harrisburg Campus
Civilization’s Vanguard is forged by cultures within societies whose collective fabric is a tapestry of diverse individuals, concepts, customs, and inclusive relationships. Handed down first in oral folk traditions, then visually graphic, later written, and now digitally electronic—the microcosmic primitive anthropological settings have come full circle in the vast array of global communications traveling at the speed of light.
One of the greatest challenges or dilemmas facing higher education and, in particular university campuses, is how to develop and sustain a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout all elements of campus life. The need for this continual organic evolution on university campuses necessitates faculty, advisors, administrators, staff, and executives to deliver strategic planning and development, leading to an outcome of diversity and inclusion for all stakeholders. Curriculum, faculty, staffing, and enrollment are all fertile areas in which we can guarantee the strategic actions and ongoing training which will ultimately ensure cultural, curricular, intellectual, generational, gender, and spiritual diversity and inclusion.
Building bridges among diverse constituencies and stakeholders is core to our future development as a global society. The cultural collages of the 1960s-’70s evolved more fully into more diverse and inclusive tapestries and fabrics of the 1980s-’90s, in which the diverse constituencies and ideas became interwoven, and strengthened the institutions in ways that the peaceful, but objective coexistence of the earlier decades of the Civil Rights Movement had only initiated.
“Engaging communities in diversity is an implied essential responsibility of the social mission and outreach of our University. Modeling diversity through training and active engagement by faculty, staff, administration, and the student body is essential to developing the culture of diversity that we, as a University, continually seek.”
This divergence of thought, complementary thinking styles, and pluralistic concepts manifests itself throughout education in the 21st century through diverse learning modalities, learning styles, and instructional styles. Of particular note is higher education in the 21st century as a paramount example of these three tenets reflected in the diversity and inclusion of all aspects of the University of Phoenix in both its real time and virtual campus settings. At our university campuses, in real and virtual environments, the rich diversity of our academic culture is imbued with the layers of diversity that permeate campus environments, integrating the lives, roles, and career paths of our students, and all other stakeholders.
The iconic Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Caesar Chavez, Dahli Llama, and Dr. Martin Luther King shine as beacons whose personal trials, struggles, and triumphs have impacted humanity in radiated waves of concentric circles of diversity. The unmistakable symbiotic relationship among diversity, inclusion, and human rights is evident in the transcendent impact that each of these individuals continues to have upon our global society, and civilization epitomized in the sphere of higher education.
Engaging communities in diversity is an implied essential responsibility of the social mission and outreach of our University. Modeling diversity through training and active engagement by faculty, staff, administration, and the student body is essential to developing the culture of diversity that we, as a University, continually seek. The mirroring effect that campuses may employ as they embark upon a continual journey to reflect their community culture sometimes takes on the converse role of forging a diverse campus environment as a model for communities. From melting pot of the world to the dynamically integrated synergistic global nation that we have become, the United States maintains a social responsibility to model diversity. The University of Phoenix exists as a diverse microcosm. Unlike much of the nation’s higher education community, University of Phoenix looks like America—both in terms of our student body and our faculty. We stand as a model of diversity for higher education, as evidenced in the data contained within our Academic Annual Report 2009. At University of Phoenix, almost half of our enrollment consists of students from underrepresented racial or ethnic communities, and is above the national average for colleges and universities. We enroll more women than the national average as well. The University’s responsibility to embrace, nurture, and advance diversity and inclusion is implicit and central to its mission of “social responsibility,” conceived of, propagated, and modeled by our founder, Dr. John Sperling.
Ultimately it becomes the strategic solutions that are sought, identified, and enacted upon that will continue to guarantee that diversity and inclusion are embraced and championed throughout all of the campuses of the University of Phoenix, world-wide.