New director shares vision for diversity center

BY MARIEM QAMRUZZAMAN

Published September 20, 2006

He is a professor. He is an internationally renowned lecturer and consultant on diversity issues in research methodology, higher education and public policy. And now Phillip Bowman is the first permanent director of the University's National Center for Institutional Diversity, which was established last fall.

The center is a think-tank for social research where faculty fellows, along with Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program participants and graduate students, can research and analyze complex systems of diversity and health disparities.

Bowman, who is also a professor at the University's Center for Higher and Postsecondary Education, last worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago. There, he served as director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, which had similar goals to NCID.

Lester Monts - the senior vice provost for academic affairs who developed the idea for NCID - said the center was created to further the leadership role of the University for surrounding communities and to initiate social change on a national scale.

"We thought that we could take a lead role in producing something that the rest of the country can benefit from," Monts said.

Bowman hopes to make the center a leading institution in the study of diversity.

"The primary goals of the center are to broaden the focus on diversity in such a way that the issue of racial inequality is not ignored, but also includes (others)," Bowman said.

He cited gender diversity, class diversity, urbanicity and ethnicity.

The institute is launching 10 core independent projects in addition to several related small projects. For example, one of the researchers is trying to develop a comprehensive decision-making guide to promote the exchange of diverse viewpoints.

University officials have praised Bowman for his experience and expertise in the topic of diversity.

"I can't think of another person whose body of research, leadership skills and level of experience would make a better candidate than Phil Bowman," said Prof. James Jackson, the director of the University's Institute for Social Research.