The Diversity Leadership Council (DLC) was appointed by President Robert Zimmer in September 2007 as part of recommendations arising from the Provost’s Initiative on Minority Issues. We represent a group of senior administrators from a broad cross-section of the University, including academic divisions, professional schools, the Medical Center, and administrative functions, who are deeply committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive campus community.
The DLC was established on the premise that the diversity of our nonacademic staff is one of the University of Chicago’s greatest assets; that the diversity of the City of Chicago has helped make the University into the world-class institution it is today; and that our success in achieving our core academic mission depends on recognizing and contributing to diversity in all aspects of campus and community life.
The DLC serves as an advisory body to the President and Officers of the University, and as a mentor and resource to academic and administrative units. Our focus is to help ensure that the University’s relationships with our nonacademic employees, with our surrounding neighborhoods, and with our business partners appropriately reflect the University’s commitment to diversity as part of its core mission.
As President Zimmer has written in the University’s Diversity Statement, our commitment to diversity is “central to our mission of discovery” and “our relationship to the community.”
He notes that “as a large educational institution and employer, we have commitments and opportunities due to our location on the South Side of Chicago. Our students and members of the community forge ties through programs supported by the University Community Service Center. Community residents contribute their knowledge and skills to the University as members of the faculty and staff. Both the University and the community are made stronger by a mutual exchange of ideas and resources.”
The President further writes, “The University of Chicago is distinctive in many respects, but perhaps in none more so than our singular commitment to rigorous inquiry that demands multiple and often competing perspectives. The nature of questions being asked and the perspectives being engaged are often a function of the diversity of experiences and outlooks of those participating. Diversity for the University is therefore particularly germane to our core perspective.”
There is significant research showing that people think more creatively, are better problem-solvers and contribute more to their workplace when they work in diverse teams. Thus, fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace is directly related to our effectiveness as an organization. In addition, diverse community and business partners make innovative contributions that enhance the excellence of our institution.
Furthermore, the world around us is growing more diverse, and we are located in a world-class, racially diverse urban environment. It is essential that our staff members have the experience, perspective and cultural competency to operate in an increasingly diverse environment, and that our business practices and community relations be effective at fostering positive and mutually supportive relationships with the communities in which we reside.
Our ability to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, staff, and students is dependent upon ensuring that our surrounding communities are thriving socially, culturally, and economically. We are committed to an ongoing investment in the health and vitality of the city of Chicago and particularly the mid-South Side. That means contributing to a healthy business climate and supporting a range of community organizations and programs.