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A multi-unit group supporting Cornell University's institutional diversity planning initiative.

Formation of the DFA & CIT Diversity Committee

Original message sent on September 10, 2012 to staff members in DFA and CIT.

Dear DFA and CIT colleagues,

As you may recall, in February of this year, President Skorton issued a statement regarding the university’s new goals for diversity at Cornell. (See President Skorton’s statement.) Since that statement was issued, the university has established the “Toward New Destinations” institutional diversity planning initiative, which establishes an annual, university-wide process for goal setting at the university and college/unit level, as well as a process for assessing and measuring progress. The new plan affirms the “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds” statement, as well as the 2010-2015 strategic plan, and expresses a broad view of the value we place on diversity and inclusion at Cornell.

As part of this initiative, the president charged university vice presidents and deans to select representatives from their areas to serve on the university’s diversity team. The individuals selected also serve as leads for their individual college and unit committees, which will develop strategies to implement the initiatives outlined in the university’s plan.

Fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion has long been a priority for DFA and CIT, and we are pleased to announce that the DFA & CIT Diversity Committee has been formed to guide and enhance diversity initiatives within our respective units. The following individuals are members of the DFA & CIT Diversity Committee:

  • Cindy Jefferson, Supply Management Services  (chair)
  • Jan Clayton, CIT
  • Halima Dhedi, Office of the University Controller
  • John Parker, CIT
  • Gail Thayer, Office of the University Treasurer
  • Harper Watters, Office of the University Treasurer
  • Margie Whiteleather, The Cornell Store

These individuals will be assisted by other staff members within DFA and CIT to accomplish our collective goals. In addition, a communication subcommittee has been formed, which includes Cindy Jefferson, Margie Whiteleather, Joshua Adams, Jamie Churchill, Beth Goelzer Lyons, and Diane Sempler.

The president has asked vice presidents and deans to select five initiatives to implement in their colleges or units within this fiscal year. We have reviewed the initiatives selected by the DFA and CIT Diversity Committee and presented our goals to President Skorton. The executive leadership of the university and the University Diversity Council (UDC), which is made up of diversity professionals, provosts, vice provosts, and vice presidents, will meet in September to review the initiatives chosen by all colleges and units. We will communicate the details of the DFA & CIT initiatives after that meeting.

In the meantime, as you may know, we have already been working actively on several initiatives within our areas, including the DFA intern program and Supply Management’s efforts to further diversity in our pool of suppliers.

As plans for our initiatives progress, we will provide details through our regular forms of communication. In addition, we will create a blog website later this month to facilitate frequent communications about the DFA & CIT initiative.

A special note for Financial Transaction Center, Business Service Center, and IT staff members with whom we collaborate, but who report into other units: We understand that your units have their own diversity initiatives. As we do for many communications, we will include you on announcements of our diversity efforts. In the spirit of open dialogue and sharing of ideas, we would like you to be as aware of our efforts as possible, and we welcome your insights.

For more information about the university’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, see


Joanne DeStefano and Ted Dodds

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