Diversity at Northeastern Illinois University: What is it?

During the original strategic planning process in the spring and summer of 2008, the question was frequently asked: What is diversity? What does diversity mean at NEIU? How do we define diversity? Do we have a shared understanding of how significant it is for Northeastern? In consideration of this, the President’s Council developed this reflection to provide a response to the University community. It serves as a complement to the planning process.

Northeastern Illinois University is the most diverse public comprehensive university in the Midwest. This diversity affects the core of the institution – we learn, teach, and work in an environment that is made richer, more relevant and more rewarding by the deeply diverse group of individuals that makes up our University community.

Our demographics reflect the urban environment of Chicago and the greater metropolitan area. Individually, we vary in ethnicity, race, age, and gender. We also vary in areas other than these traditional demographic measures. Nearly 50 languages other than English are spoken as a first language by our students. We come from various cultures and observe many different religions. Our students, faculty, and staff have a variety of economic backgrounds and bring a breadth of values, experiences, intellectual interests, and sexual orientations.

Our community is diverse in every sense, and this transcends not only all that we do but how we do it. We welcome, accept, respect, and embrace our differences because we value learning from others. We support divergent perspectives and expect our community to voice its differing views of history, politics, and world events – that is how we add value to our educational experiences and grow as individuals. We recognize the broad array of experiences and knowledge of cultures that our communities bring to the University and our learning experiences. These experiences transform our individual and institutional lives.

Diversity is at the core of all we do. This is illustrated by the inclusion of diversity among the core values adopted and embraced by the University community in our Statement of Values:

Diversity—NEIU values the inclusion of a broad spectrum of students, staff, and faculty in the life of the University. We celebrate and foster global perspectives. We encourage the open and respectful expression of ideas and differences in thoughts, experiences, and opinions.

The University, therefore, is a collection of values, ideas, experiences, and thoughts. As a community, we incorporate this diversity into how we learn, teach, and provide service to our metropolitan region. We feel that consciously weaving this diversity into all that we do is what makes Northeastern unique.

The President’s Council, August 27, 2008