sealPurdue News

February 5, 2003

Industry, universities team up to promote diversity

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies, colleges and universities aren’t the only ones watching.

Industry also has a stake. Corporate America has noted the changing demographics: Minorities will dominate the work force of the future. Not only is industry looking to universities to educate more minorities, it also is urging universities to teach students to value diversity.

To that end, industry has invested in workshops to help university faculty and staff understand and value diversity, so they, in turn, will inspire their students. One university that has taken up the challenge is Purdue University, a leading research institution in Indiana.

For the past five years, Purdue’s Schools of Engineering have offered two-day multicultural and gender diversity forums for its faculty and staff. So far, more than half of the engineering schools' 265 faculty and 80 staff members have participated.

"The results of our just completed survey show that the forum has been a success story in engineering," said Klod Kokini, assistant dean for strategic initiatives.

The forums began at the suggestion of a alumna working for E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. Additional corporate partners have included Daimler Chrysler, Eli Lilly and Co. and Procter & Gamble Co.

Participants in the survey reported having a significantly better understanding of ethnic history, diversity issues, stereotypes and prejudices. They also felt more empathy for people of color and began to assume personal responsibility for the racial climate around them.

The next engineering schools' diversity forums are scheduled for March 9-13.

CONTACT: Klod Kokini, (765) 494-5340,