Enabling Inclusive Identity at UMass Boston
UMass Boston is working to cultivate an inclusive campus community and healthy social environment, and this includes allowing our students to identify themselves as they desire. As part of this effort in 2022, the UMass President’s Office and the Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell campuses have collaborated on the Enable Inclusive Identity Project. The project has sought to define the terms and values needed in our WISER student information system to enable students to self-identify with greater autonomy. The data collected will be used to develop the specialized programs and services students have been asking for, as well as the practices and support systems necessary to maintain these values over time.
At UMass Boston, this multi-campus project was sponsored by the Registrar’s and Student Affairs’ offices and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and managed by the IT Project Management Office. It was scoped into two phases with Phase 1 focusing on the relabeling of Chosen Name to Pronoun, and Gender to Sex, and went live on June 6th, 2022. Phase 2 introduced new Pronouns, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation, and went live on October 17th, 2022.
Supporting and advancing inclusive identity in the WISER student information system reflects UMass Boston’s essential commitment to its students. Honoring diverse identities is at the core of the university’s mission and vision, and everyone who worked on the Enable Inclusive Identity project has helped UMass Boston reach its goal of having every personal identity get the acknowledgement and respect it deserves.
Learn IT: Professional Development for All IT
Information Technology (IT) is a rapidly evolving career field, a fact not lost on Ray Lefebvre, Vice Chancellor & Chief Information Officer, at UMass Boston. Lefebvre established an IT professional development program in 2019—aptly titled “Learn IT”—which provides all IT personnel the opportunity to seek and receive professional development on an annual basis. The “Learn IT” program has made a significant positive impact on those working in IT at UMass Boston, and in 2022 the program was rebranded “Learn IT+” with the addition of an “8-Hour Challenge” that encourages all IT staff to put aside eight hours each month for professional development—no questions asked.
As a result of a continuing commitment to professional development for IT staff at UMass Boston, the “Learn IT” program has grown steadily since its inception, with the number of course offerings and participating staff increasing every year. Professional development is strongly encouraged in IT and extraordinary investments have been made in the program, as it continues to add depth and variety in its offerings.
The numbers are impressive. Over the past two years, 37 staff members have participated in 87 professional development offerings, allowing them to take courses, attend conferences, prepare for certifications, and other related learning activities.
Taking advantage of the “Learn IT” program also allows participants to pursue the professional growth they desire. Many have acquired new job skills, allowing them to advance their careers in IT and even earn promotions. Professional certifications are also available and can help people take different positions within IT or embark on entirely different career paths. Daniel Mayer worked in the IT Desktop Services department but was very interested in cybersecurity. So, by enrolling in a “Learn IT” program in information security he was able to attain a certification that allowed him to become an Endpoint Security Analyst in the IT Information Security Office. What Dan did is a great example of the personal, professional, and financial value that “Learn IT” offers.
Ultimately, all IT professionals deserve the opportunity to stay up to date with the rapidly changing world of Information Technology; and through the “Learn IT” program and “Learn IT+ 8-Hour Challenge”—every member of the UMass Boston IT organization has the opportunity to learn, grow, and prosper through a personal investment of time and effort.