Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Kaplan in the fall

Illinois Tech is a diverse and welcoming community, featuring a campus with students from 89 countries and all 50 states. In 1890 the university was founded in order to lift up people of all backgrounds with education that would help them meet the needs of the age. Ensuring every student at Illinois Tech is still afforded that opportunity is of the upmost importance. 

As President Alan W. Cramb says, “At this university we strive to have a diverse culture of unity, inclusivity, equity, and respect. My expectation is that everyone in our community should treat one another with respect and dignity regardless of gender, race, background, country of origin, religious affiliation, immigration status, orientation or any other such descriptor. We, as a community, must be clear that it is intolerable to allow anyone to be bullied or demeaned or shamed because of their ideas, decisions, background, characteristics or particular circumstance.”

Communications Sent to Illinois Tech Community

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff, 

As I watched the assault on Congress this week—an event that I never thought I would see in this country—I was moved to reflect on why I chose to move here and why I became a citizen. I came to America because I believed it stood for equality and liberty, that it was a place where anyone could be successful and where each person could chart the nation’s future through voting and peaceful civil discourse. I’m appalled by Wednesday’s events because they amount to an attack on the idea of America itself.

The civil unrest we witnessed did not change my view of what the United States of America represents. It has only reinforced the necessity for us to better understand and embrace the democratic process and to accept its results, whether we like them or not. 

I hope that as we move forward, we will all better appreciate that we are a country of laws that are not optional and do not change with circumstance. When we disagree, we must do so peacefully, acknowledging the right of others to do the same, without such differences causing division or rancor. 

Illinois Institute of Technology will always stand for and support a just, equitable, and democratic United States of America, where education allows us each to follow our dreams and where diversity and inclusion will always be embraced.

Sincerely,

Alan W. Cramb
President, Illinois Institute of Technology
 

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
As the events following the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have created unrest in our city, state, and nation, I want to reaffirm our unwavering support of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and Bronzeville neighbors of African descent. Simply put, the university unequivocally condemns discrimination and violence against all African Americans within our community and across the country. 

The pain and outrage that many of us feel at this time is palpable. I reaffirm this university’s ongoing and strong commitment against racism of all kinds. Our university is dedicated to peacefully working with our community to reject fear, violence, and injustice and to contribute to positive change in Chicago and in our nation. 

Our university was founded to bridge inequity in education and opportunity—and that informs every aspect of who we are as a university. As outlined in our Statement on Community, Inclusion, and Diversity, “We embrace the contributions that differences offer.”

Please stay safe during this difficult time.

Sincerely,
Alan W. Cramb
President, Illinois Institute of Technology

First of all, thank you to our faculty and staff who enabled our students to finish their spring semester and graduate on time. At that time we successfully took care of more than 500 students who chose to remain on campus. Currently, there are more than 200 in our housing. This experience gives us some confidence in our abilities to look after our on-campus students during this pandemic. Our priority is—and always will be—focused on the success of our students. And even though our Commencement was virtual for the first time, I think it was successful.

We are in a time like no other in our history. We are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, we must reopen in August, and it is not likely that any new international graduate students will join our university in the fall. In addition, we must also understand our role in addressing the systemic racism so apparent in our society. We must embrace and support the Black Lives Matter movement, and we must say clearly in one voice that Black Lives Matter.

This means we must renew our commitment to substantially increasing access for African-American students to our university, as well as increasing the number of African-American faculty and staff members and opening doors of opportunities for their advancement, as well as working to be an even better partner with our Bronzeville neighbors. 

In fact, planning and efforts are underway to address these important matters, sparked by significant conversations over the last several months with African-American trustees, alumni, and current students. I have met—and will continue to meet—with our students to better understand their needs. It is clear that our university must become more welcoming, must better understand how we can support student success, and must recognize that we have not done enough to make sure our African-American students feel supported and valued. I have heard very troubling concerns from our African-American students ranging from classroom interactions to a large disconnect between expectations and reality. I have received suggestions for change from our trustees and from our student body, and I will listen even more and communicate a detailed plan that is first discussed among our faculty and staff—as it is clear that a top-down solution will not be successful. We as a community must change.  

Certain facts are clear:

  • We must increase the number of African-American faculty in all of our schools and colleges. Our provost will lead this initiative.
  • We must increase the number of African-American students on our various campus sites and develop a culture that allows them to be successful, not only during their student years, but also once they graduate. Mike Gosz will lead the initiative to increase our African-American students, and our provost, our deans, and our Student Life professionals, led by Katie Stetz, will be focused on developing an appropriate campus culture to allow and promote retention and graduation of these students. Our goal must be that ALL students have a similar experience that is inclusive, enriching, and enables them for success.
  • We must increase the number of scholarships available in Bronzeville and in Chicago for students who graduate from high schools around us, and we must become a partner with these schools to enable future success. Ernie Iseminger and I, with our board, alumni, and friends, will work on this aspect of our future.
  • We must increase the number of African-American faculty and staff leaders on our campus by developing a pathway program to develop such leaders. Peter Kilpatrick and Mike Horan will lead this effort.
  • We must reinvigorate the development of our culture that supports ALL people, especially those who have been underrepresented on our campus, to allow for future success. Our deans and vice presidents, our Faculty Council, our Staff Council, and student leadership, under the guidance of the provost and I, will lead this effort.  
  • Stating a desired outcome is not the same as achieving that outcome, and I am asking the above groups to meet and formulate concrete plans that we will implement going forward. This is not a short-term problem and will need long-term solutions. We will become the university where difference is important. Diversity has been baked into our community’s DNA for over a century, unlike other universities, for which this is a relatively new undertaking.

Our future as a university is changing significantly due to the pandemic but also due to the fact the national policy will make it less appealing for international students to come to the United States. In the past, we, as a strategy, decided to become a global university, and we became very successful under the guidance of Darsh Wasan; however, it is doubtful if this strategy will be successful in the future. We have been growing as an undergraduate university to mitigate decreasing international enrollment. The discussion of elimination of OPT, reduction in H1B visas, and increasing difficulty in becoming a citizen has led to a decreasing trend in student numbers over the past few years; and as numbers decrease we have seen much greater competition not only within the U.S., but also in other countries.

The pandemic has accelerated these issues, and now we are predicting no new international students in the fall semester and perhaps the spring semester. This became clear only at the end of May. At our board meeting I discussed this with our board members, and we were required to present a “worst case” financial scenario, which we shared with you on June 2, as that now seems to be realistic. Peter and Mike Horan will discuss this in detail, but we face a very tough year going forward. But it is a year we will overcome. Our strategy has been to maintain our full-time faculty and staff, and attempt to ensure that their take-home pay does not decrease and their jobs continue, thus the steps taken in the June 2 memo. The provost will discuss the steps taken to balance our income with our expenditures.

There have been questions, such as will administrators face the same cuts as faculty and staff, and the answer is of course. If there are no salary increases and benefit reductions, there are no salary increases and benefit reductions for everyone. Let me talk about bonuses. First of all, until the faculty and staff receive a salary increase and resumption of full retirement benefits, I will not receive the part of my salary that is based on board requirements negotiated each year. My salary is set up that if I make the criteria that the board requires, I receive my full salary—a salary that is comparable to the average of other university presidents. Thus, my salary is an incentive-based salary that I must achieve. It is not a conventional bonus system. If I do not achieve certain goals, my salary can decrease by up to 30 percent. Thus, this year, my salary will decrease by 25 percent compared to last year. By the way, I do not set my salary; the board does, and all increases of administrators are approved by the board, and the salary pool percentage for administrators is set at the salary average approved in our budget each year. There are, however, some people who are hired who have deferred salary, which they receive if they stay a certain amount of time. This also turns up as a bonus in IRS filings, but this is not a traditional bonus either, but a promise that the university must and will honor.

Lastly, we must reopen in the fall. Without students on our campus and in our housing, we are not financially viable—no traditional university is. Thus, we must reopen in the fall with an on-campus experience. It is also what our students want and expect. Bruce Watts will describe the reopening procedures to enable the potential for operation of our various campus sites in the fall.

I have reviewed all of the questions that were posted online before the meeting and tried to answer some of the very general comments during this time. After presentations by Peter Kilpatrick and Bruce Watts, Nick Menhart will moderate a session to answer a number of the online questions and, if there is time, he will open up for live questions. After the town hall, we will post answers to questions that could not be answered live.

Thank you.

Alan W. Cramb
President, Illinois Institute of Technology

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As you likely know, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidance on July 6 regarding fall 2020 semester registration for all F-1 international students. The department notes that this guidance will be formalized as a temporary final rule in the near future.  

Like many of you, I share deep concerns about the timing, motivation, and substance of the guidance. Our university, our city, and our nation are deeply enriched by the contributions of our international community members. Our university has been, and will continue to be, a place where all are welcomed and supported in their pursuit of educational excellence.

Recently, I became a national co-chair of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a group of nearly 500 university and college presidents committed to advocating for undocumented and international students. Many universities across the nation share our concern with this new policy, and I am currently working with the Presidents’ Alliance to explore ways to support the legal challenge to these new government mandates. 

I want to assure all our affected international students that the university currently plans on in-person instruction this fall, with sufficient hybrid options. Though the final rule has not been issued by ICE, the university intends to work to make appropriate options available so that all affected students can meet the government’s requirements and remain on campus. 

The International Center along with academic advisers and the Office of the Registrar will work closely with all of our continuing  F-1 and J-1 international students to ensure that they are enrolled in as many in-person and/or hybrid courses as possible to remain compliant with the new regulations.

Please note that the fall 2020 semester course schedule is being revised to accommodate city and state reopening guidelines, and current course schedules in the portal may not be updated yet. The Office of the Registrar will notify all students when the schedule is available along with instructions explaining how to check schedules on the portal and make changes, if necessary.

Thank you for your continued contributions to our university.

Sincerely,

Alan W. Cramb, President
Illinois Institute of Technology

Dear Illinois Tech Students, Faculty, and Staff,

It is critical that we continue to say clearly with one voice that Black Lives Matter. 
The university leadership and I condemn all forms of racism—structural, institutional, and individual— directed toward Black people in the United States and across the world, and we are committed to ensuring inclusion and representation on campus. 

I recognize that the university needs to do more to create an atmosphere where Black people feel included, valued, and supported. Since fall 2019 I have met—and will continue to meet—with Black students, faculty, and staff to better understand their concerns and implement ideas for needed change across the university. We will significantly improve the environment and ensure that our university becomes a more welcoming place.

Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and, Inclusion
To ensure that the university makes substantial and rapid progress, I have decided to create the position of vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which will report directly to me. A link to the full job description and directions for how to apply for this position will be shared with the university community soon. I strongly encourage interested staff and faculty at Illinois Tech to apply for this position.

The first goal of this new vice president will be to develop a comprehensive plan to support and expand diversity initiatives and measure outcomes at Illinois Tech. To assist in this effort, university leaders and the deans have been working to identify specific areas of focus and improvement. Although many areas of improvement were identified, they are all unified under the following key priorities: 
 
Increasing the Number of Black Students and Facilitating Their Success on Campus
Mike Gosz, vice president for enrollment and senior vice provost, is building new partnerships with Chicago Public Schools and other schools in Bronzeville and the South Side with the aim of substantially increasing the number of African-American students at Illinois Tech. Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives April Welch is working to facilitate connections between the African American Alumni Association and corporate partners to increase access for our students. Director of Community Affairs Alicia Bunton is working to facilitate connections between the Office of Undergraduate Admission and South Side high schools to make our educational resources more accessible to South Side students.
 
Dean of Students Katherine Stetz and her team are working to develop a more welcoming and supportive campus culture to promote the success of African-American students here at Illinois Tech and in their careers. As a first step in this initiative, the Office of Campus Life worked with students last year on the Multicultural Greek Initiative, which was confirmed as a registered student organization by the Student Government Association. This momentum has continued with the Change @ Illinois Tech initiative, co-led by SGA, UNITE, SHPE, ISA, UB, and Intinium. 
 
In addition to these efforts, we will continue to work with historically Black sororities and fraternities so our students will have the opportunity to join the connected communities of the “Divine Nine.” This fall, Illinois Tech welcomes Lambda, the Chicago city-wide chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., as part of the work done by the Multicultural Greek Initiative.
 
Further, registered student organizations such as the Black Student Union, the National Society of Black Engineers, Caribbean Visionaries, the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students, and the African Student Organization have been cornerstones of our campus and have directly supported students through a multitude of involvement and community opportunities. Illinois Tech will continue to support their missions.
 
Increasing the Number of African-American Faculty 
Provost Peter Kilpatrick is working to attract and recruit more African-American faculty because we know it is crucial that our faculty members represent both the community we serve and the diverse workforce that our graduates will join. To date, this year we have welcomed three new adjunct African-American faculty members including renowned architecture critic Lee Bey.
 
Increasing the Number of Scholarships Available to Bronzeville and Chicago-Area Students
Ernie Iseminger, vice president for advancement, will prioritize fundraising for scholarships for students from Bronzeville and neighboring communities to provide them with increased access to an Illinois Tech education.
 
Increasing the Number of African-American Staff Leaders
Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Mike Horan and Hilary Hudson Hosek, AVP, head of human resources, are working to identify more effective ways to reach African-American candidates during the search and promotion process. 
 
Supporting and Listening to Black Students
Director of Community Affairs Alicia Bunton has been serving as liaison and advocate for all students of African descent since November 2019, and I will continue to work with her directly on ways to better support Black students across our campus.
 
Strengthening Cultural Awareness
The Office of Human Resources is working to incorporate cultural knowledge and competence into educational practice, policymaking, and infrastructure. The goal will be to create organizational norms that foster openness to—and respect for—discussing issues of cultural competence as well as to disseminate current information about all diversity initiatives.
 
As I mentioned in our June town hall, change will not happen overnight, but I am confident that we can work together to take concrete steps so we can build a more equitable and just campus.
 
In partnership,

Alan W. Cramb
President
Illinois Institute of Technology

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Today the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and partners filed a lawsuit against the federal government’s recent restrictive H1-B visa rules. As a national co-chair of the Presidents’ Alliance, I will work with our 500 college and university presidents to defend international students and our university from unwise immigration policies that would harm our educational mission and hinder economic opportunity.

Sincerely,

Alan W. Cramb, President
Illinois Institute of Technology

 

Missing media item.

PRESIDENTS’ ALLIANCE FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OVER UNLAWFUL H-1B REGULATIONS
Regulations would dramatically undermine H-1B program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2020
Contact:
Jose Magaña-Salgado (jose@presidentsalliance.org)

Washington, D.C.—Today, the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration joined with a coalition of business organizations and higher education institutions and, represented by Paul Hughes of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, filed a lawsuit against the federal government challenging: (a) the U.S. Department of Labor’s interim final rule, which makes unreasonable and arbitrary changes to the required minimum wage to employ H-1B workers; and (b) the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s interim final rule, which would revise the definitions and standards for “specialty occupation” as well as “employer-employee relationship,” limiting petition validity for third-party placements. The promulgation of these rules significantly and adversely impacts the ability of higher education institutions to sponsor international researchers, staff, and faculty–all of whom serve critical roles on campus.  

You can view our complaint here.

Our nation’s knowledge economy depends on diverse talent from around the world, including skilled researchers, scholars, students, and workers. Higher education institutions and businesses are competing with institutions from around the world for the best minds, and we need to ensure that our immigration rules enhance, rather than deter, our ability to compete. Not only do institutions need to be able to recruit and hire the right people, but we also need to ensure that those who might seek to come here continue to see opportunities and not capricious barriers. Unfortunately, these new rules, combined with other harmful policies from the administration, make us less competitive.

Miriam Feldblum, Executive Director, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, stated: “The Presidents’ Alliance challenged these interim final rules not only because the administration procedurally short-circuited congressionally mandated public comment requirements, but also because these rules are substantially unreasonable and would cut off an important pipeline of talent, innovation and knowledge. There’s no question that Congress needs to enact comprehensive immigration reform to address challenges in our immigration system, but these rules put us on the wrong path. They will lead to job losses and not job gains for our national economy. A robust, fair, and effective immigration system is paramount for our nation’s recruitment and retention of international students and scholars. Yet, these rules undermine higher education’s ability to welcome and train international top talent, conduct critical research, carry out teaching, and nurture innovation and academic discovery.”

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The non-partisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education. We work to advance just immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus level that are consistent with our heritage as a ‘nation of immigrants’ and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of approximately 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, representing over five million students in 42 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.