President & Provost Message
The University of Chicago has long espoused two critical values: a deep and foundational commitment to free expression and rigorous inquiry, and the importance of the rich diversity of the campus community.
Since its founding, the University has been committed to the idea that these values enhance each other: that a culture of rigorous inquiry requires an environment where diverse perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas inform and stimulate intellectual exchange, challenge, and engagement.
This commitment demands that the University create a climate of respect, civility, and inclusion. We must be an intellectual community where all scholars feel welcome, heard, and encouraged to do their best work. Students, faculty, and staff all play pivotal roles in creating this environment where ideas are challenged, new fields of inquiry are defined, and conventional wisdom is questioned.
Our society as a whole has engaged in many exclusionary practices, and these acts of bias—both historical and ongoing, both explicit and implicit—have limited opportunity and participation for many individuals and groups. As a university community, we must take these climate issues seriously and address them openly. This is critical for ensuring that all faculty, students, and staff are able to fully participate in open discourse on campus and thus fully benefit from and contribute to the deeply enriching and challenging academic environment characteristic of the University of Chicago.
President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee Lee
Statement on Diversity
October 10, 2007
The University of Chicago is distinctive in many respects, but perhaps in none more so than our singular commitment to rigorous inquiry that demands multiple and often competing perspectives. The nature of questions being asked and the perspectives being engaged are often a function of the diversity of experiences and outlooks of those participating. Diversity for the University is therefore particularly germane to our core perspective. We must ensure that our scholarly community is composed of a rich mix of individuals who, through their own distinctive viewpoints, contribute to the intellectually challenging culture of the University.
For over one hundred years, our commitment to diversity has shaped the course of research and education at the University and has contributed to groundbreaking work in a variety of disciplines. The University has always been open to women as well as men. The first doctorate earned by a black woman in the United States was awarded in 1921 at the University of Chicago. We were among the first major non-historically black universities to tenure a black faculty member. Contributions by Asian American scholars in 1920s were essential to the University’s landmark research in sociology. At a time when other elite institutions discriminated against Jews, the University refused to set quotas. The University has long been a magnet for students from Mexico and South America. Since the founding of the Center for Gender Studies in 1996, the University has become a major center for research and graduate training in fields that examine issues of gender and sexuality. Throughout its history, the University has benefited when there has been a wide range of views represented on campus.
Our commitment to diversity affects our relationship to the community as well. As a large educational institution and employer, we have commitments and opportunities due to our location on the South Side of Chicago. Our students and members of the community forge ties through programs supported by the University Community Service Center. Community residents contribute their knowledge and skills to the University as members of the faculty and staff. The University of Chicago Medical Center is working in partnership with other health care providers to build a strong health care network for South Side residents. The Center for Urban School Improvement and its charter schools have worked with the community to develop schools that have improved the education of children in the neighborhood. Both the University and the community are made stronger by a mutual exchange of ideas and resources.
A commitment to diversity is central to our mission of discovery. The way the University has been organized and has evolved over the years, the intensity of our intellectual culture, the resulting education that is so engaging and powerful, and the nature of the contributions the University has made to scholarship and to society are all derived from our focus on inquiry. We have an obligation to see that the greatest variety of perspectives is brought to bear on the issues before us as scholars and citizens. We therefore celebrate our tradition of inclusion and recognize that our success as an institution depends on its ongoing renewal.
Robert J. Zimmer
Kenneth W. Warren
Deputy Provost for Research and Minority Issues