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11-18-2003

Clarkson Hosts World-renowned Diversity Motivator Samuel Betances

“Diversity is not about counting heads but about making heads count” was a central theme of two seminars presented recently to Clarkson University staff, faculty and students by world-renowned motivational speaker and diversity expert Samuel Betances.

Betances, a founding member of Sounder, Betances & Associates Inc., a diversity training and consultancy firm, has worked with corporations, universities, government agencies and law enforcement for more than 10 years. His appearance at Clarkson is part of the University’s ongoing commitment to increase diversity on campus and integrate diversity objectives into its long-range planning and programs.

“Clarkson will continue to provide programs and support services that bring diversity across the campus and into all levels of our community,” said Clarkson President Tony Collins, who attended both sessions. “Our campus should represent the larger population and that means attracting more women and minorities to our faculty, staff and student body, as well as first-generation college students to our well-established programs in engineering, technology, business and the sciences.”

In dynamic and inspirational speeches that brought cheers, applause and words of commitment from the Clarkson audiences, Betances emphasized the need for schools to be transformed in view of   “shifting demographics that cannot be ignored.”

He pointed to a population that is 51 percent female and to statistical projections that by 2025 there will be five million fewer Caucasians and 18 million more Hispanics in the United States.

 “The university is the gatekeeper to wealth, power and prestige in this country,” Betances explained. “Historically, our system of higher education that focused on educating white males worked quite well as evidenced by the success and wealth of our country. But we are increasingly a diverse population. And the relationship between the changing demographics of the workforce and our current systems for educating and developing leaders and trained workers is out of sync. We must figure out ways to get women, minorities and first-generation college students into the educational pipeline early on and create support systems for keeping them there.”

Finding ways to diversify the community is the mission behind Clarkson’s Pipeline Programs and Academic Success (PPAS), which provides academic, cultural and social support for under-represented students in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. By integrating efforts at the pre-collegiate, undergraduate, and graduate levels, it assists African American, Hispanic, and Native American students, as well as some economically disadvantaged or first-generation college students.

Using a series of programs, pathways and partnerships, Pipeline connects a variety of institutional resources. These include community colleges, national laboratories, federal and state agencies, foundations and corporations, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic American Colleges and Universities, and American Indian Tribal Colleges and Universities.
[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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