Kathryn Schmitz, associate dean for academic administration and college liaison for Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, has been presented with RIT’s 2015 Changing Hearts and Minds Award, by the school’s Office of the Provost and the Office of Faculty Recruitment, the school stated.
RIT’ gives the award annually in order to recognize departments’ efforts toward furthering the school’s overall commitment to diversity, specifically in the area of enhancing diversity among faculty.
Schmitz has received a gift of $500 in honor of her hands-on leadership, and influence in the spirit of inclusion and diversity, while NTID President Gerry Buckley, on behalf of NTID, has received $2,500 to help further advance AALANA (African American, Latin American, Native American) recruitment efforts at the school.
“This award came as a complete surprise to me, and I am greatly honored by it,” said Schmitz. “I take very seriously the work we are doing in our college to ensure that departments and search committees conduct transparent, fair and consistent searches. I want to recognize the perseverance our departments have shown in identifying prospective applicants whose qualifications match those listed in job descriptions, and their willingness to honestly evaluate and consider applicants who are not part of our known or traditional pools. It’s not always easy to convince colleagues of the value of a good search process. We are slowly but surely transforming our faculty with new members who represent the discipline expertise, and background diversity, that our students need for optimal learning and preparation for careers.”
Schmitz began her career 26 years ago as a public relations specialist at NTID, before being named director of marketing communications. She then joined the English department as a faculty member in 2000.
Schmitz had also previously been chair of NTID’s Department of Liberal Studies, and currently serves on the NTID Administrative Council, with responsibility for institute processes and functions such as tenure, promotion, faculty and exempt staff searches, diversity training and institute committees.
“Katie and the faculty involved in the search processes have demonstrated RIT’s commitment to building a workforce that is increasingly diverse,” Buckley stated. “NTID has maintained a strong commitment to this goal since the late 1980s, when members of Congress reminded us of our responsibilities in this area as a national institute. We are steadily moving in the right direction, thanks to Katie’s leadership and the strong efforts of our search committees.”
NTID’s faculty hires for the 2014-2015 academic year represented 57 percent of total AALANA hires at the school, and 28 percent of RIT’s total female hires.
In addition, RIT’s award selection committee has also taken into consideration the effort the colleges have made in their commitments to diversity, and ongoing work to mentor and coach the search committees, according to officials. This is the second time NTID has received the award.