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University at Buffalo wins Diversity and Inclusion Institutional Award

UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO ATHLETICS

CLEVELAND, O.H. -- The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced today the first-ever award winner for achievements in diversity & inclusion with the MAC Diversity & Inclusion Institutional Award.  

The University at Buffalo athletics department was named the winner of the MAC Diversity & Inclusion Institution Award. The University at Buffalo has developed a broad-based program to be inclusive of all the issues that face its student-athletes, athletics staff, campus and the greater Western New York community.

"We are tremendously honored that the MAC is recognizing our commitment to diversity and inclusion," said University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi. "Diversity and inclusion are core values of our institutional mission—central to our identity as a public research university and, therefore, central to all of our programs across Buffalo. That the MAC, with this inaugural institutional award, is celebrating our athletics department's success in fostering a welcoming, inclusive environment is a source of great pride for all of us at Buffalo."

Buffalo athletics is dedicated to diversity and inclusion with a diverse pool of candidates with its hiring practices, development of the student-athlete Peer Mentoring Program, program support and a voice within the University's Council for Diversity & Inclusion and the Athletics Department's Diversity Athletics Council, and fostering conversation via DIFCON, a series of difficult conversations on campus with discussions that facilitate conversation among students and faculty about social issues in an environment that is open, honest, candid and respectful.

"It is my honor to name the University at Buffalo as the inaugural winner of the Diversity & Inclusion Institutional Award," said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher.  "President Satish K. Tripathi, Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt and Senior Associate Athletics Director for Sports Administration and Senior Woman Administrator Kathy Twist have provided Buffalo with tremendous leadership in establishing a culture that fosters diversity and inclusion."

"On behalf of the University at Buffalo and our amazing team and student-athletes here in the Division of Athletics, we're very honored and humbled to receive the inaugural MAC Diversity and Inclusion Award," said Buffalo Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt.  "This is a true testament of our institution's commitment and subsequent action to these very important values. We will strive to continue to be a recognized leader in the MAC and beyond in concepts diversity and inclusion as this will strengthen our institution."

Buffalo athletics has developed a culture of diversity & inclusion through a variety of programs and initiatives including:

• statistical analysis of ethnicity, race and gender with end of year surveys and exit interviews;

• educational programming and initiatives to include LGBTQ, the Chosen Name Policy, Gender Neutral Bathroom, Transgender Committee, #SpiritDay and Representation at SPECTRUM;

• Title IX programs include IAB Gender Sub Committee, National Women and Girls in Sports Day, Campus Lactation Facilities and Coordinator, Tea Video, Town Hall Meeting, Wellness Education Services, and UB's Got Your Back Program;

• Disability programming with Team IMPACT, the 2016 Summer Paralympics and the Office of Accessibility Resources;

• Mental Health programming with the MAC Mental Health Summit and Student-Athletes of Concern Action Plan;

• student-athlete experience with SAAC, Fundamental Academic Skills Training, Student and Parent Orientation;

• professional development with the Internship Program, Law School Internship Program, Mentorship Program, Diversity Summit Participation, SAAC and COSA Diversity and Inclusion Week, Buffalo's Mental Health Week;

• creation of a school-wide Diversity Plan and the Center for Excellence in Academic and Athletic Performance.

In November of 2016, the MAC announced one of the most comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion Programs in Division I intercollegiate athletics to begin during the 2017-18 academic year.

The MAC Diversity & Inclusion Program has positioned the MAC as a leader within collegiate athletics. Through this program, the MAC is working to expand opportunities for minority candidates in coaching and administration with six specific and coordinated program initiatives.

These six initiatives include: establishing a Conference Diversity & Inclusion Statement, the commitment of 25 new annual internships across membership, a collaborative mentoring program, a bi-annual summit, the first of which was hosted by the MAC on Feb. 8, 2018, the creation of a resource webpage and the annual awards platform to recognize one institutional athletic department, individual administrator and student-athlete.

The MAC Diversity & Inclusion program provides career educational opportunities for a diverse pool of candidates, career entry and advancement opportunities, consistent support and career mentoring programs for all levels of professionals, and opportunities for collaboration on best hiring practices and cultural enhancements for member institutions.

In the Fall of 2015, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher instituted a 15-member working group comprised of university administrators, senior athletic administrators and faculty athletic representatives to present to MAC membership recommendations for a comprehensive diversity & inclusion program.  Steinbrecher charged the working group with: "Taking a solution-oriented leadership role in accelerating and growing the pool of minority candidates for collegiate job opportunities in coaching and administration."