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University at Albany Diversity Transformation Fund Award Recipients Announced

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 7, 2015) – Nine projects promoting inclusiveness at the University at Albany have been selected to receive a 2015-2016 Diversity Transformation Fund Award. The projects cover a wide spectrum of subjects, from disability studies to police training on identifying and guarding against implicit bias; and from social justice through social media to a series of conversations on critical race theory.
Invitation to Dance flyer

The documentary tells the story of disability rights activist Simi Linton, Ph.D., who will lead a faculty workshop on Oct. 13.  


The Diversity Transformation Fund supports UAlbany’s Inclusive Excellence Initiative, UAlbany Collaboratively Creating Excellence, Scholarship and Success (UACCESS), by providing funding to faculty and staff to support innovative activities and initiatives that model and indicate inclusiveness. The awards were first given during the 2012-2013 academic year.

When UACCESS was first introduced at UAlbany, President Robert J. Jones said its aim is to “make UAlbany the kind of University where all are respected, supported, and expected to be successful.” The goal is to help faculty and staff discover ways to enhance student success and academic excellence “through the lenses of different groups.”

“These projects exemplify the creative ways in which our University faculty are weaving the core value of increased diversity into how they teach, and what they teach,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost James Stellar. “They also show academic departments casting a wide net to invite diverse faculty to campus, and demonstrate University staff creating programs focused on literature, artwork and film from a broad spectrum of diverse artists.”

One of the recipients, Assistant Professor of English Sami Schalk, will use the award to bring the story of disability rights activist Simi Linton to campus this fall through a screening of Invitation to Dance, a feature documentary that includes an examination of physical barriers and discrimination. The film is a compelling coming-out story of disabled people’s quest for equality, justice, and a place on the dance floor.

Invitation to Dance will be shown October 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Assembly Hall. Earlier that day, there will be a workshop for faculty and instructors in Humanities 354 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. The film’s directors, Linton and Christian von Tippelskirch, will be on campus leading the faculty workshop and answering audience questions after the film screening.

The film will be shown during October which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month; this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Linton, the subject of the film, was injured at 23 while hitchhiking to Washington to protest the war in Vietnam. Her young husband and her best friend died in the car accident that left Linton in a wheelchair, her legs paralyzed. The story of Linton, who has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from NYU, is closely interwoven with the progress made by disabled people to achieve rights and freedom.

Schalk said she applied for the award because she is a disability studies scholar. After teaching a few classes in the field, she has found that many students at UAlbany have little awareness about disability rights as a social justice issue, whereas most have at least heard about racial and gender equality concerns.

“My hope is that by hosting the workshop for faculty, I can help increase the presence of disability studies in the curriculum across the University,” said Schalk. "My hope for the film screening is that students learn more about the disability rights movement and disability arts and culture. I believe that continued programming around disability for all members of the UAlbany community will help make campus a better space for people with disabilities and allow our students to enter the world with increased knowledge and understanding of social justice for people with disabilities.”

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than
120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.



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