Developing Competitive Advantage-Diversity Resource Guide - Carnegie Mellon University

Developing Competitive Advantage

As an institution, we have exercised considerable self-analysis by assessing our current activities and capabilities, benchmarking selective organizations, and identifying broad opportunities for improving our diversity profile. For all that, there has been a lack of systematic follow-up and attention paid to diversity by the university.

The 1998 Middle States Evaluation Committee severely criticized Carnegie Mellon for its lack of progress on diversity issues over the 10-year evaluation period. Improvement in this area is not a one-shot deal; it entails a systemic effort on the part of the whole university, starting with Carnegie Mellon President Emeritus Jared Cohon. He repeatedly reminds all members of the community of the seriousness of the problem, of the importance of diversity and of their responsibility. Diversity in the classroom will be achieved only if we hold the faculty members of the community accountable for making progress in this area of responsibility. University-wide change will only happen if we hold all members of our community accountable.

Our environment includes both impediments to diversity and receptive factors:

Impediments to Diversity
Positive Cultural Forces
  • Serious obstacles in the Carnegie Mellon environment to achieving real diversity
  • Effective but narrow intellectual focus on computers and technology
  • Value system in which "personal development" takes a back seat to "hard work"
  • Decentralized hiring process for faculty and staff
  • Pace and pressure of work takes front row
  • Aspects of university culture that provide competitive advantage
  • Faculty, students, and staff are judged by their accomplishments
  • Individuals are given a chance to prove themselves
  • Highly interdisciplinary research and teaching environment with a flexible administrative structure, allowing for many cross-disciplinary or special arrangements
  • Majority of Carnegie Mellon community places a positive value on diversity
  • Community includes experts on diversity who are ready to help

To make substantial progress requires real support and initiative by the faculty. Faculty must understand why enhancing diversity is as important to the future of the university as excellence in research, teaching and fund-raising. They must acknowledge that a problem exists, and they must assume responsibility for helping to solve the problem.

How will we prepare graduates for careers and life in a highly diverse world? The economic, social, and technological goals of our nation will only be met by educating a broad population. Educational institutions that hope to assume leadership in research and teaching in the next decades will be judged, in part, by the value which they place on diversity. Carnegie Mellon could and should be a leader in the work.