This story was updated Oct. 12 after an interview with Cristina Alcalde, vice president for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.
The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) announced its new name on Oct. 2 in a statement on X (formerly Twitter). It will now be known as The Office of Transformational and Inclusive Excellence (OTIE).
According to its website, OTIE aims “to create a diverse and inclusive culture” and serves protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The office also organizes heritage months, resources for marginalized identities, provides bias report forms and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training.
Cristina Alcalde, vice president for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, stated that the name change has been in the works for “quite some time”. The term ‘transformational’ is included in the new title to more accurately represent the goals of the office.
“It really reflects our ongoing efforts to embed inclusive excellence and diversity, equity and inclusion throughout Miami,” Alcalde said. “I would say that’s why we’re calling it transformational. We’re intentional about becoming an increasingly inclusive community, so we want to be transformational about the things we do to be an increasingly inclusive community.”
Along with the name change, the office also developed values to frame their work.
“We actually just as a team discussed ‘What does it mean to do this work?’ and we developed core values that guide our work,” Alcalde said. “We’re really proud of them. All of us came up with these, and this is how we approach our work.”
Alcalde also referenced intersectionality and how OTIE can support and uplift the identities that Miami students, faculty and staff find within themselves and share amongst each other.
“There are so many different identities at Miami and even within an individual,” Alcalde said. “So we want to be inclusive and embrace all these identities. When we look at policies or structures, we want to make sure that we’re seeing what impact it might have on intersecting identities.”
Kelsea Brown, a senior social justice major and double minor in community leadership and critical race and ethnic studies, said the change seemed premature to her.
“Given everything that’s going on, I’m not mad at the name change,” Brown said. “I think it’s a little premature just because nothing officially like Senate Bill 83 [has] gone through yet. In a way, I understand the name change as long as they're providing the same services.”
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Ohio’s Senate Bill 83, which passed in the Senate in May, limits spaces like OTIE because of its language that prohibits mandatory DEI training and affiliated programs. DEI is considered to be a “controversial belief or policy”, which is prohibited under the bill. The bill is expected to be heard in the House soon but no date has been released yet.
However, Alcalde said that the name change is independent from the higher education legislation that is currently being discussed.
“Right now, I can’t speak to what S.B. 83 may or may not have,” Alcalde said. “I can say that right now we are moving forward with our efforts to be more inclusive. If and when a bill does pass, we will do everything we can to be in compliance and also to meet all our commitments to inclusion.”
Jason Streeter, a sophomore computer science major, also commented on the change.
“As long as their cause is still good, the name change shouldn’t matter,” Streeter said.
As part of their new initiatives, OTIE will be working with Kent State University and Ohio University to host a conference called “Reimagining the Academy.” The conference will be held at Kent State with Zoom options available on Oct. 18 and 19.
“It’s a collaborative conference,” Alcalde said. “We’re going to be talking about how to reimagine higher ed, or the academy, so that it is more inclusive and more accessible, and transformational. So that includes talking so much about so many different identities including accessibility, anti-racism and so many other things.”
Going forward, the rebrand is aiming to better represent the mission of OTIE, along with creating new events like the conference in October.
“We have been talking about the work that we do, and … so much of what we do [is] focusing on DEI, but our goal is to be transformational,” Alcalde said. “And the framework we use as a university is inclusive excellence. So it really is comprehensive.”