Higher Education in the 21st Century – Diversity of Missions: Abstract by W.A. (Sam) SHAW

 

Supporting Diversity at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

W.A. (Sam) SHAW, PhD, President and CEO, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Canada

As a leading post-secondary institution in Canada, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) plays an instrumental role in developing future leaders and delivering education and training in 23 countries. In order to promote a population that values and fosters diverse workplaces, NAIT must play an active role in shaping students by leading with example. This means that diversity must be reflected both through its students services, policies and through various initiatives available to staff. The context of the role NAIT plays in the communities it serves will be presented as the background to fostering diversity.

NAIT seeks to welcome and embrace diversity on campus. NAIT has over 3,000 staff serving 72,000 customers annually, as we aspire to be a place where the quality of education is enhanced and enriched by a diverse community – where all students benefit from multicultural experiences. We strive to create a campus that acknowledges and addresses the special needs of groups and individuals. We envision a place where the pervasive respect for diversity has created a supportive climate in which students are able to reach their academic potential and the entire campus benefits from participation in a multicultural community.

This paper intends to outline initiatives that NAIT has implemented to ensure a fair and equitable environment for our staff and students; as well as to ensure that our diversity strengthens our organization. Initiatives include the implementation of support systems for students, the provision of opportunities to celebrate our diverse community, and the incorporation of systems to review progress.

Practical examples will be provided that will explore all areas of NAIT from delivering programs in rural and remote communities to providing student services to a very diverse population of students. Furthermore the basis of including staff in decision making and elements of strategic planning ensure that NAIT continues to promote diversity in thought, word and deeds.

Finally the paper will deliver next steps in the journey that NAIT needs to undertake to remain on the leading edge of an organizational commitment to diversity for its students and staff. The paper will conclude with the challenges that need to be overcome in promoting diversity within NAIT and with its stakeholders.