(New York, NY) – On August 6, 2019 the Columbia University School of Professional Studies, Columbia University Facilities & Operations and their media partner, Diversity Agenda, hosted an industry Roundtable to launch their Construction Diversity Initiative (CDI). The first of its kind, CDI is an inter-disciplinary research, policy, and training initiative within Columbia University to produce, deploy and transfer knowledge around minority, women, veteran, workforce and related diversity stakeholders in the building industries.
The roundtable discussion was hosted at Columbia University’s historic Low Library Rotunda, an impressive building modeled after the classic Parthenon that hosts the President’s office and student tours – setting a symbolic tone of the importance of the new initiative. Prior to the presentation, attendees networked during breakfast and the room was comprised of the construction industry’s key thought leaders on the issues related to diversity and inclusion. Remarks were provided by former New York State Governor David Patterson and key Columbia University Leadership, including Dr. Jason Wingard, Dean of the School of Professional Studies and David Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Facilities and Operations.
“What we are trying to do is bring together City and State agencies, the regional educational institutions and the construction industry,” said Dr. Jason Wingard. “Through this initiative we are focusing on exposing education to a wider set of non-traditional students and we are tasked with helping MWBEs, veterans and diverse populations break through large scale construction projects – and it will take this ecosystem of working together to create change.”
“The University prides itself on our longstanding commitment in promoting diversity throughout the construction industry,” said David Greenberg. “This construction diversity initiative will contribute greatly to our ability to promote and advance diversity across all phases of development design and construction. CDI’s evidence-based approach will help Columbia, New York City and other institutions build on the successes we are already creating.”
Many people here today have been at the forefront of the diversity conversation, especially the professionals from Columbia University,” said Governor David Patterson. “Today, capital construction projects are larger and more complex than ever before, and we have to work together to give minority, women and veteran owned businesses the support and opportunities they need to grow their firms to scale. CDI is moving this dialogue forward and I thank Dr. Wingard and David Greenberg for including me in this important initiative.”
Following the opening remarks, a presentation of CDI, its mission and goals was provided by Francisco X. Pineda, Faculty & Program Director of Columbia’s School of Professional Studies and Tanya Pope, Columbia’s Assistant Vice President for University Supplier Diversity.
After attendees were able to learn more about CDI and what its partners are hoping to accomplish through research, policy and training, Dr. Renee Sacks, Publisher of Diversity Agenda moderated a conversation between the roundtable participants – with the goal of further understanding the current challenges that relate to the diversification of the construction industry. Key decision makers from State and City agencies and authorities, as well as prime contractors and owners provided anecdotes on the difficulties, best practices and how CDI can support their shared mission of diversity and inclusion.
Following the roundtable, the CDI development team, including Francisco Pineda, Tanya Pope, and Dr. Renee Sacks will bring forth a broader action plan to engage a Leadership Council and an Operational Advisory Group.