Adelphi prides itself on being a model of diversity and inclusion. Now, one of our top diversity programs is serving as a model for school districts on Long Island.
Adelphi’s Diversity Certificate program, which provides faculty and staff with intensive training in intercultural awareness and inclusivity, has been adopted by the Sewanhaka Central High School District in Nassau County. This follows the adoption of the program by the adjoining Roosevelt Union Free School District.
The Diversity Certificate program is designed to promote a positive, respectful learning environment for all members of the Adelphi community. To earn their certificate, participants in this voluntary program must complete five workshops and a capstone project within three years. Workshops are led by Adelphi faculty and staff and include “Diversity and Cultural Competence in Higher Education,” “Addressing Racism” and “Gender Bias and Title IX.”
Administrators from the Sewanhaka school district heard about the program and contacted Adelphi to see how they could participate. Perry Greene, Ph.D., vice president for diversity and inclusion at Adelphi, and A. Brian Leander, Ph.D., manager of training and development, met with the Sewanhaka district superintendent and agreed to offer the program to teachers and administrators in that district.
“Beyond our responsibility for being good neighbors, our partnership with local school districts allows us to address a real need in the community,” said CarolAnn Daniel, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Social Work and faculty director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “We are looking at a situation on Long Island where most of the teachers are white—some 92 percent, according to the Department of Education—with a nearly 50 percent and growing student body of color.”
Through the Diversity Certificate program, the Sewanhaka school district can help teachers create more inclusive and understanding classrooms that help students thrive.
“This is a win-win for us and the district, as many of our students come from these schools,” said Dr. Daniel. “It also allows us to increase the visibility of our dedication and commitment to the promotion of equity and diversity.”
Adelphi President Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D., made diversity and inclusion one of her institutional goals when she joined the University in 2015. Since then, Adelphi has seen faculty diversity grow. For the 2017–2018 academic year, the University hired 25 new faculty members, 44 percent of whom are people of color. By comparison, 31 percent of new faculty hires were people of color in 2016, 39 percent were in 2015, and 31 percent were in 2014.
When the Diversity Certificate program first launched in 2016, 19 faculty and staff members completed it. This year, 31 faculty and staff members are on track to earn their certificates.
“I think, as a community, we have become more comfortable talking about certain issues such as race and sexual orientation,” Dr. Greene said.
As word of the program spreads, Adelphi continues to receive requests from other school districts that wish to participate.
“We expect our collaboration with school districts to grow,” said Dr. Daniel, “as we see this as an effective way of simultaneously improving local schools and showing our commitment to improving the well-being of the larger community.”