A Message from President Cramb on Diversity and Inclusion at Illinois Tech

Dear Illinois Tech Students, Faculty, and Staff,

It is critical that we continue to say clearly with one voice that Black Lives Matter.

The university leadership and I condemn all forms of racism—structural, institutional, and individual— directed toward Black people in the United States and across the world, and we are committed to ensuring inclusion and representation on campus.

I recognize that the university needs to do more to create an atmosphere where Black people feel included, valued, and supported. Since fall 2019 I have met—and will continue to meet—with Black students, faculty, and staff to better understand their concerns and implement ideas for needed change across the university. We will significantly improve the environment and ensure that our university becomes a more welcoming place.

Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
To ensure that the university makes substantial and rapid progress, I have decided to create the position of vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which will report directly to me. A link to the full job description and directions for how to apply for this position will be shared with the university community soon. I strongly encourage interested staff and faculty at Illinois Tech to apply for this position.

The first goal of this new vice president will be to develop a comprehensive plan to support and expand diversity initiatives and measure outcomes at Illinois Tech. To assist in this effort, university leaders and the deans have been working to identify specific areas of focus and improvement. Although many areas of improvement were identified, they are all unified under the following key priorities:

Increasing the Number of Black Students and Facilitating Their Success on Campus
Mike Gosz, vice president for enrollment and senior vice provost, is building new partnerships with Chicago Public Schools and other schools in Bronzeville and the South Side with the aim of substantially increasing the number of African-American students at Illinois Tech. Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives April Welch is working to facilitate connections between the African American Alumni Association and corporate partners to increase access for our students. Director of Community Affairs Alicia Bunton is working to facilitate connections between the Office of Undergraduate Admission and South Side high schools to make our educational resources more accessible to South Side students.

Dean of Students Katherine Stetz and her team are working to develop a more welcoming and supportive campus culture to promote the success of African-American students here at Illinois Tech and in their careers. As a first step in this initiative, the Office of Campus Life worked with students last year on the Multicultural Greek Initiative, which was confirmed as a registered student organization by the Student Government Association. This momentum has continued with the Change @ Illinois Tech initiative, co-led by SGA, UNITE, SHPE, ISA, UB, and Intinium.

In addition to these efforts, we will continue to work with historically Black sororities and fraternities so our students will have the opportunity to join the connected communities of the “Divine Nine.” This fall, Illinois Tech welcomes Lambda, the Chicago city-wide chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., as part of the work done by the Multicultural Greek Initiative.

Further, registered student organizations such as the Black Student Union, the National Society of Black Engineers, Caribbean Visionaries, the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students, and the African Student Organization have been cornerstones of our campus and have directly supported students through a multitude of involvement and community opportunities. Illinois Tech will continue to support their missions.

Increasing the Number of African-American Faculty 
Provost Peter Kilpatrick is working to attract and recruit more African-American faculty because we know it is crucial that our faculty members represent both the community we serve and the diverse workforce that our graduates will join. To date, this year we have welcomed three new adjunct African-American faculty members including renowned architecture critic Lee Bey.

Increasing the Number of Scholarships Available to Bronzeville and Chicago-Area Students
Ernie Iseminger, vice president for advancement, will prioritize fundraising for scholarships for students from Bronzeville and neighboring communities to provide them with increased access to an Illinois Tech education.

Increasing the Number of African-American Staff Leaders
Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Mike Horan and Hilary Hudson Hosek, AVP, head of human resources, are working to identify more effective ways to reach African-American candidates during the search and promotion process.

Supporting and Listening to Black Students
Director of Community Affairs Alicia Bunton has been serving as liaison and advocate for all students of African descent since November 2019, and I will continue to work with her directly on ways to better support Black students across our campus.

Strengthening Cultural Awareness
The Office of Human Resources is working to incorporate cultural knowledge and competence into educational practice, policymaking, and infrastructure. The goal will be to create organizational norms that foster openness to—and respect for—discussing issues of cultural competence as well as to disseminate current information about all diversity initiatives.

As I mentioned in our June town hall, change will not happen overnight, but I am confident that we can work together to take concrete steps so we can build a more equitable and just campus.

In partnership,

Alan W. Cramb
Illinois Institute of Technology