Jerome Underwood, senior director of youth development and family services for the Rochester City School District, has been named the Rochester Institute of Technology’s 2015-2016 Minett Professor, RIT officials stated.
The Minett Professorship brings distinguished Rochester-area multicultural professionals to the RIT campus to share their professional knowledge and experience with students, faculty and staff for one academic year.
Underwood began his professorship in the fall of this year at the university.
“RIT is excited and fortunate to have Jerome as part of our community this academic year,” Kevin McDonald, RIT’s vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, stated. “His long-standing commitment to the city of Rochester’s youth, and their families, will be invaluable to him, as he attempts to increase the number of students in RIT’s Rochester City Scholarship pipeline.”
As a Minett Professor, McDonald said Underwood will focus on helping to expand the Rochester City Scholars Program, educating students, families, and counselors throughout the district about the Rochester City Scholarship initiative offered by RIT.
Currently, the school gives full-tuition scholarships to entering full-time freshmen from RCSD, and the city’s charter schools, who meet its eligibility requirements.
“It is an honor to have been chosen as the 2015-16 Minett Professor,” Underwood stated. “I will use this platform to create and expand higher education opportunities for the young people who attend the Rochester City School District, particularly via RIT’s Rochester City Scholars Program. In addition, I will also use my tenure to promote the necessity for culturally responsive teaching, and learning, at all education levels, which will result in better outcomes for students and their families.”
Underwood said he will also participate in several academic support initiatives, specifically MOCHA, the Men of Color, Honor and Ambition Program. MOCHA is a one-year academic, professional and leadership development series for undergraduate male students of color.
He previously worked as a chief financial officer in business process outsourcing and commercial banking.
Underwood attended St. John Fisher College, and received a bachelor of science in accounting, then continued his education at RIT, where he received a master’s degree in finance in 2001. Underwood is also the immediate past board chair for Action for a Better Community, which was a position he’d held for seven years.