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About / Center for InterculTUral Excellence

Center for InterculTUral Excellence

Celebrating CulTUral Uniqueness (CCU@TU) was our response to the climate on diversity and inclusion at Tiffin University (TU) in 2016. We knew on campus, we needed to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We wanted to ensure that TU was a place where every student had a voice, could feel free to be themselves and be valued, and could celebrate their culture and their uniqueness on campus every day. As academics, we did the first thing that we always do when we’re starting a new project: We conducted interviews and did our research. We talked to faculty, staff, and students on campus, we consulted community members, looked at what other campuses were doing, and we read everything we could get our hands-on. We conducted focus groups, and we analyzed the data. From our research, we came up with something that worked for us and that we planned to sustain. Tiffin University is exceptionally unique in its approach to DEI, and our goal is to widely promote the science of what we have discovered.

At TU, 47% of our students identify as non-caucasian, 43% are first-generation, and 47% are Pell grant eligible. Over the past five years, international students have accounted for almost 10% of our student population. Our students represent 48 states and 30 countries. Also, we are proud of our satellite campus in Bucharest, Romania. Out of 258 full-time employees, 14% identify as non-Caucasian. In terms of full-time faculty, 17% identify as non-Caucasian and in terms of our full-time staff, 12% identify as non-Caucasian. Though the city Tiffin is in a rural, Midwestern, location, the vast diversity of people that come to this community each year thanks to the two universities in town, is staggering and it is critical that all students receive relevant tools that are becoming more and more necessary as we all navigate a more global society.

To ensure that our students are supplied with these tools, we had to equip our faculty and staff with the tools they needed to help our students meet their goals. But, before we got to this point, we massaged our ideas and synthesized our research.

Celebrating CulTUral Uniqueness: the initiative

Under the leadership of Dr. Schumacher, in 2016 Tiffin University (TU) embarked on an effort called Celebrating CulTUral Uniqueness (CCU), now called CCU@TU. The initiative began as a focus to strengthen our approach to diversity and inclusion in order to be able to foster a culture of openness to diversity of thought and this action was not because we were not already promoting diversity, but because we could do better and our student body of which approximately 44% are either domestically and globally diverse, deserve this. TU administrators, faculty, staff and students wanted to show a strong attitude for embracing, welcoming, and celebrating diversity and inclusion and, moreover, become known internally and externally as an institution that educates, develops and prepares individuals for the realities of the world in which we live and work.

Mission of Celebrating CulTUral Uniqueness (CCU) at Tiffin University

Our commitment fosters inclusive excellence through celebrating cultural uniqueness in an environment that is welcoming, understanding of different perspectives, affirming, and safe for all populations. The collaborative strategic alignment of the Councils for Academic Experience, Expansion of Opportunity, and Talent & Engagement cultivates the opportunity to support and maintain an educational and working environment which promotes a commitment to inclusive excellence.

The initiative has grown into a commitment and now encompasses both internal and external cultural competency education and training, an updated and relevant for TU students curriculum, and student programming around these topics. The next phase is to start a Center to house and build on these endeavors.

On February 14, 2022, more than 25 members of the Mennel leadership team participated in the CCU course at the Fostoria Learning Center.

“In a world in which Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are front and center of the conversation, Tiffin University’s Celebrating Cultural Uniqueness (CCU) platform provides a thoughtful environment for participants to introspectively view the distinctive experiences that uniquely make us who we are. The InterculTUral Excellence team then creates a safe setting for an open and honest discussion about how we as unique humans interact and how those behaviors are received by those around us, especially those that have a very different collective of cultural values and life experiences. In any case, a business can only be as successful as the human beings running it, and we should all spend more time improving how we as humans are interacting and understanding each other.”

— D. Ford Mennel / President, The Mennel Milling Company

Why Celebrating CulTUal Uniqueness?

Culture is defined as “the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music, and arts.” (Zimmerman 2015). At Tiffin University, we have more than one culture at play; the campus culture and the individual culture each person encompasses. This lens is essential in the work we do. Celebrating CulTUral Uniqueness albeit, does not preclude the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). More on this below.

Celebrating CulTUral Uniqueness: The Center for InterculTUal Excellence

We made a commitment in 2016 and have far exceeded our goals. Not only do we graduate culturally competent students, but we have trained our faculty and staff, hosted phenomenal speakers and created our own internal and external training programs. Furthermore, we have developed a curriculum that doesn’t just benefit Tiffin University, but other organizations as well. The next step is to create and staff a Center to centralize and manage all of these facets and to continue to develop and grow our initiatives and strategic goals.

“I thought the training was excellent. I could have sat there all day and talked with the team. I am very much looking forward to the next three sessions and continuing on this journey.”

— Higher Education Member/ Toledo, Ohio
To truly stand out, we must not feel compelled to fit in.