The University Record, November 19, 1997

Clinton praises program on Intergroup Relations

Students from different backgrounds come together as part of the Program on Intergroup Relations, Conflict and Community (IGRCC). President Clinton recently named IGRCC as a "Promising Practice" to bridge racial divides across America. Photo by Rebecca Doyle

Joe Reilly (far left), Brian McKnight and Jeffrey Wank, three of the students participating in the 'Men and Women' program on intergroup dialogue, contemplate a point made by one of the women in the group. Photo by Rebecca A. Doyle


By Deborah Gilbert
News and Information Services

The University's Program on Intergroup Relations, Conflict and Community (IGRCC) has been recognized by President Clinton's Initiative on Race as one of 14 "Promising Practices" that successfully bridge racial divides in communities across America. IG RCC is one of two programs in higher education highlighted by the White House.

A description of IGRCC and the other "Promising Practices" appears on the Web site for the Initiative for Race (www.whitehouse.gov/Initiatives/OneAmerica).

"We are very pleased that the University's Intergroup Relations, Conflict and Community program has received this level of national attention&emdash;not only for the recognition but also because the program brings to light the fact that people of different r acial and ethnic groups and lifestyles can benefit from meaningful and productive dialogue," says Nancy Cantor, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

By engaging in such dialogues, Cantor adds, "our students, faculty and staff have learned very important lessons about human relations, that is, about what we have in common as well as how we differ."

Founded by faculty members in 1988 during a time of heightened racial tension on campus, IGRCC provides students from different backgrounds with the opportunity to come together for intergroup dialogues.

"The dialogues are facilitated by trained undergraduate students and focus on cross-racial and cross-cultural interaction. Through the dialogues, participants learn how to work and communicate across differences and deal with conflict constructively, " said Teresa Graham Brett, co-director of the program. The dialogues are offered on a wide range of issues such as "People of Color and White People," "Latinos and Latinas," "Blacks and Jews," and "Latinos and Blacks."

In addition to intergroup dialogues, the program offers a series of first-year seminars, training programs for student facilitators and workshops on current issues.

"We are honored to be cited by the President's Initiative on Race," says David Schoem, LS&A assistant dean and one of the founders of the program.

"This program addresses one of the greatest challenges facing American Society, which is whether we can learn to live and work together and sustain a strong, diverse democracy built upon values of social justice. The students who participate in the se activities are well-prepared to be leaders in a diverse nation and a global economy," he adds. "This program is a model for higher education and has already been adapted by several other universities."