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Diversity in Communications

February 7, 2007

View the presentation by Vice President of Equity and Diversity, Rusty Barceló, at


To a capacity crowd in the Campus Club West Wing Dining Room, Barceló, Vice President of Equity and Diversity, shared a personal and powerful presentation on why diversity is a core value in striving for excellence in education.

Her presentation began with the story of how she got her name, with Rusty explaining that she has been “working on issues of diversity sine I was born.” She reviewed the important words for the University Strategic Positioning in terms of diversity. 

Access:  entrance, admission, gateway, right of entry
Rusty explained that she and her office are working with communities and schools to prepare students for the right of entry to the University. An important question is how do we enable students to be a part of our University community

Equity:  fairness, justice, treating people fairly
Rusty commented that all of us want to be treated fairly, equitably. She cautioned that diversity should never become a euphemism for assimilation. We need different models to build on the good work that was done during the 20th century. 

Diversity:  variety, multiplicity, multiple identities
Rusty said students are coming to the University with multiple identities, and the concept of diversity of not set in stone. We need to expand our thinking about diversity, and we can not abandon the value of education and access for underrepresented people. 

Next, Rusty talked about the metrics for defining success in diversity for the University being a top three public research university. “Diversity is about excellence,” she explained.  She also said that we can never be excellent without diversity. And if we can acknowledge that diversity has made us better, how do we push the doors open wider? 

She then described the work the Office of Equity and Diversity is undertaking, which includes:

  • Working with K-12 throughout the state and finding ways to coordinate that work
  • Strengthening relationships with external communities (town hall and community meetings, 2007 Summer Bridge to Excellence program, etc.); a key question – How should the University share with external communities real facts about what we’re doing? 
  • Leveraging the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence
  • Developing a new process for recruiting faculty
  • Undertaking a self-study to help determine how the office can enhance its services and be a broader resource for the entire campus

Rusty explained that she also has been talking about an interdisciplinary diversity research institute. This type of national research base is missing, and she said we need to know how we are making a difference in terms of diversity. The institute would bring together faculty, help with faculty and staff recruitment, and enhance outreach in the communities. The institute also would be a home for answering the question – What questions does society have about diversity that we should consider researching? With this type of institute, we could change the conversation about diversity, not avoiding the issues. 

She also encouraged the group to think about diversity as a core value of the University. And if it is a core value, we all have a responsibility for diversity. 

In answer to questions about telling the University’s story, Rusty recommended that communicators tell the story with integrity, honesty, and respect. And consider ways to tell individual’s stories that help bring to light issues and questions. She also encouraged people to highlight the many things the University has to be proud of, including the fact that the U was the first university in the country to have a women’s center, the first to have an American Indian Studies department, and is the home to unique and valuable resources like the Tretter Collection. 

In talking about the U’s new “Driven to Discover” campaign, Rusty encouraged the audience to think about another theme: “Diversity Drives Discovery.” She also encouraged everyone to be open to new ideas and perspectives, which is a hallmark of diversity.


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