Kenneth Durgans was raised during the civil rights movement of the 1960s in Yellow Springs, a progressive village on the southwestern corner of Ohio.
From as young as he can remember through his years in high school, where diversity was a conspicuous part of the curriculum, his family and community instilled in him the importance of accepting diverse thoughts and cultures as a way of life.
I was very lucky. It was a great place to grow up as an African American during that time. People there put so much effort into critical thinking, Durgans says. My parents and community taught me the importance of learning, how to be flexible, and seeing diversity as essential to life. For me, there is no one right way to think or to live.
Imbued with that philosophy, Durgans has spent much of his career with the goal of improving diversity within various institutions.
In August, he was appointed vice provost for institute diversity at Rensselaer. The newly created position represents The Rensselaer Plans mission to enhance the role that diversity plays across the entire Institute.
Durgans, who heads the Office of Diversity, reports directly to the provost. His job is to serve as an elite collaborator. He oversees no one department, but is charged with the strategic planning and implementation of initiatives across all schools and programs to achieve diversity among students, faculty, and staff.
Durgans already is working with the provost, deans, chairpersons, and Human Resources to identify strong candidates from underrepresented pools to enhance faculty recruitment. He also is working with the Office of Enrollment Management to broaden ethnic, gender, intellectual, and geographic diversity among Rensselaer students.
His job, however, does not stop with mere recruitment. Durgans hopes to continue to foster an environment on campus that supports diversity. Accessibility and credibility are key to this goal, Durgans says.
If you look at the research historically, for example, students of color are probably the least likely to use campus resources, he says. So, when I or my colleagues go out into the community to recruit, we want to make sure that potential students and their parents know every available resource from health and financial, to the many other services Rensselaer offers.
Durgans comes to Rensselaer from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where, under his guidance, overall diversity of tenure-track faculty jumped 150 percent. As executive director for diversity development, he worked with the university to identify, review, and recommend changes in Xaviers programs, policies, and procedures as they affected the recruitment and retention of a diverse population of administrators, faculty, staff, and students. Through his efforts, a campus diversity advisory committee was established, and outreach into the underserved communities surrounding Xavier expanded.
Durgans earned his doctorate in education from Western Michigan University. He received a master of science degree in school counseling from the University of Dayton, a master of arts in college student personnel from Kent State University, and a bachelor of arts in political science and history from Baldwin-Wallace College.
For Durgans, achieving diversity overall is an ongoing process.
Im a big-picture person, and my job at Rensselaer is holistic in nature, Durgans says. For us as an institution to be successful, diversity has to be connected to everything we do.
|Jong-Shi Pang has joined Rensselaer as the Margaret A. Darrin Distinguished Professor in Applied Mathematics. In August 2003, Pang received the prestigious George B. Dantzig Prize, the worlds top prize in the area of mathematical programming, awarded once every three years by the Mathematical Programming Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Pang comes to Rensselaer from the Johns Hopkins University, where he served as professor of mathematical sciences since 1987. Between 1999 and 2002, Pang also served as a program director in the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C., where he reviewed mathematical programs and made recommendations regarding funding opportunities for mathematical research projects.|
|James Tien, the Yamada Corporation Professor at Rensselaer, has been awarded the distinction of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow. Election as a fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Tien was chosen for fundamental contributions to the development and application of systems engineering concepts and methodologies. His research interests include systems modeling, public policy, decision analysis, and information systems.|
|Aparna Gupta, assistant professor of decision sciences and engineering systems, was among 83 of the nations top young engineers selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineerings ninth annual Frontiers of Engineering symposium in September. The event brought together engineers age 30 to 45 who are performing leading-edge engineering research and technical work. The symposium explored topics in environmental engineering, nanotechnology, counterterrorism technologies and infrastructure protection, and biomolecular computing.|
|Achille Messac, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, has been elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Messac is being honored for pioneering contributions to the field of control structure integrated design, which later led to the broader field of Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO). According to ASME, Messac has made seminal contributions in the field of deployment dynamics for shuttle and space station applications. He developed the physical programming method, which makes optimization easily accessible to industry engineers.|
|Russell Giambelluca has been named assistant vice president for finance, financial planning, and services. Among Giambellucas responsibilities are developing annual operating and capital budgets, and budget forecasts. He also will train and oversee Rensselaers financial, business, and budget personnel. Giambelluca brings more than 30 years of business and financial management experience in higher education and corporate settings.|
|Paul Martin has been named assistant vice president for administration. He is responsible for Administration Division operations, process development, and program implementation. Martin will continue to lead the divisions financial operation, capital analysis and reporting, procurement systems support, real estate, and administrative services functions, as well as having oversight of auxiliary services, public safety, and parking. Martin has been at Rensselaer for 19 years, most recently as director of procurement and administrative services.|
|Lynn DeNoia, clinical professor of engineering and science at Rensselaer at Hartford, received the 2002 Best Instructors Award for her and a colleagues tutorial Principles of Effective IT Management at NetWorld+Interop, the premier network education conference and trade show. DeNoia has led tutorials and workshops for the past several years at NetWorld+ Interop. She teaches this in her Rensselaer course Strategic IS Management.|
|Joseph Flaherty, dean of the School of Science, received the U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics Computational and Applied Science Award, at the U.S. National Congress of Computational Mechanics in Albuquerque.|
|William Luddy Jr. 74, clinical professor in the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer at Hartford, was named chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Science and Technology Laws E-Commerce Division and vice chair of its International Policy Coordinating Committee. He will focus on a wide range of technological and scientific research issues that intersect with U.S. and international law. Its E-Commerce Division examines a range of issues including information security, e-privacy law, development of technical standards in e-commerce, and electronic payment systems.|
|Mark Nelson, assistant professor of management, has been named a fellow of the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) for the 2003-2004 term. ECAR, located in Boulder, Colo., promotes the creation and exchange of research related to the management, use, socialization, and impact of information technology in higher education.|
|Donald Siegel, professor and chair of economics, was named to the academic advisory board of the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, an independent, nonprofit think tank designed to promote practical ways to foster competition in Israel and the Middle East. Siegel also has been named to the Scientific Committee for the Applied Econometrics Association Conference on Innovation and Intellectual Property: Economic and Managerial Perspectives at INSEAD-Singapore in July 2004.|
|Denis Simon, dean of the Lally School of Management and Technology, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation. He is one of four U.S. representatives. The foundation implements policies and programs to help foster collaboration in science and technology between American and Israeli industry. Its efforts are currently focused on biotechnology, information technology, harmonization of standards/regulations, homeland security, and nanotechnology.|
|Michael Oatman, clinical professor of architecture, has been named one of three artists to receive a $25,000 Grant for Visual Artists from the Nancy Graves Foundation. Twelve artists from across the country were nominated with winners selected from a panel of three independent jurors. The grant program assists individual artists in exploring new methods of expression through a technique, medium, or discipline that is different from the one in which he or she is primarily engaged.|
|Michael Halloran, professor emeritus of language, literature, and communication, was named a fellow of the Rhetoric Society of America.|
|Thiagarajan Ravichandran, associate professor of management, has been named associate editor of MIS Quarterly, an academic periodical based at the University of Minnesotas Carlson School of Management. He also serves on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, a research-based, refereed journal in engineering management published by the IEEE Engineering Management Society.|
|William D. (B.C.) Cahill, head womens hockey coach, died Oct. 5. Cahill, 53, was entering his fourth season as head of the womens program. He also served seven years as an assistant coach with the mens Division I program. Born in Worcester, Mass., Cahill was a hockey standout at St. Peters High School where he was inducted into the Guardian Hall of Fame. He went on to Norwich University where he played hockey and graduated in 1973. He later returned to Norwich as its first graduate to coach the schools hockey team.|
|Rensselaer Magazine: Winter 2003|
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