Culture of Community: “Breaking down barriers that keep us apart”

A 72-member committee met for the first time last month to advance the university’s new Culture of Community initiative.

The Culture of Community Collaborative consisting of 27 staff members, 23 students, 17 faculty members, four community members and led by Sylvia Imler, is charged with modeling a culture of respect and well being, inclusion and awareness, spirit and tradition, and excellence through engagement across the campus.

“As an institution, we reach our greatest potential when we know each other, we care about each other, we learn to respect and support each other and we break down the barriers that keep us apart,” President Jim Tressel said.

“We want to position YSU as one of the leaders of diversity and inclusive excellence locally, statewide and nationally.”

Spearheaded by Imler, YSU chief diversity officer and executive director of Multicultural Affairs, the COC initiative is led by a nine-member council charged with advancing diversity on campus.

The 72 members of the COC Collaborative will be the “vision carriers,” Tressel said, responsible for communicating and supporting campus and community-wide diversity and cultural events, as well as disseminating information and strategic initiatives to people across the campus and community.

“Our goal is to engage and include everyone,” he said. “Until each one of us understands that individually we are insignificant without every other individual in our community, our potential will not be met.”

Imler emphasized that the COC embraces a broad definition of diversity that extends well beyond race and ethnicity, including differences in culture, economic standing, gender, religion, rural/urban, academic background, age, sexual orientation, ability/disability, physical appearance, personality, learning style, language and veteran status.

“This view of diversity creates and nurtures a rich campus climate that is necessary for a holistic education that promotes inquiry, creativity and innovation to everyone in the YSU community,” she said. “It is at the core of helping our students become successful leaders.”