Ireland’s first Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion was launched yesterday at Dublin City University.

The DCU Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion will focus on diversity and inclusion research and practice in Ireland for industry, higher education and Government.

The first of its kind in Ireland, the Centre will help organisations to build cultures of inclusion by providing access to the very latest in academic research, insights and tools for diversity and inclusion.

Announcing the launch of the Centre, President of DCU, Prof. Brian MacCraith, said: “DCU’s long-standing primary aim has been to enable our students to prepare for the 21st Century. By establishing Ireland’s first Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion, we are transcending that and reaching out to the public and private sectors, from sole traders to multinationals; individual academics and policy officers to higher education institutions, and government departments to state agencies. Diversity and Inclusion is the right thing to do – it needs to be at the top of everyone’s agenda, and we are proud to help position it there.”

Prof. MacCraith added: “DCU’s Centre of Excellence will serve as a one-stop-shop, providing invaluable thought leadership and international best practice in the diversity and inclusion arena. Critically, this resource will be accessible and affordable, building of the principles of integrity, research excellence and shared learning. With our annual Alumni ‘Outstanding Achievement Award for Diversity and Inclusion’ Award and, as a university that has led the way in Ireland on access, autism, age-friendly, environmental and other societal issues, today’s Centre of Excellence announcement bolsters DCU’s reputation as a bona fide university of enterprise and transformation.”

Speaking at the launch, Director of the new Centre of Excellence, Sandra Healy, said: “There are many types of ‘hidden’ issues and personal ‘speed bumps’ that employees encounter in their lives. There is often significant effort in transforming work environments to where they need to be from a diversity and inclusion perspective. Whilst good intentions on diversity and inclusion are there in abundance among management and staff, the required focus, structure and means to responsibly engineer that cultural transformation can be lacking. The new Centre at DCU will create a formal engagement for industry and others to directly access expertise on diversity and inclusion, and assist that journey.”

To coincide with the Centre of Excellence launch, a celebrated champion of diversity and inclusion in the Arab world, H.E. Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, Chairperson and Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC – the United Arab Emirates Parliament), received an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from DCU. In 2015, Dr Amal made history when she was elected Speaker of the FNC, becoming the first woman in the Arab world to hold such office.

Speaking at her conferring, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi said: “Challenges sometimes define who we are. The greater those challenges, the greater the achievements.  Tolerance, inclusion, accepting others and co-existence – these are all based on respect.”

Dr Amal described the opening of DCU’s Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion as “a huge step forward, especially in an academic arena. Being available as a role model in this way and setting an example that others will follow is so important”.

Prof. Brian MacCraith commented: “Dr. Amal, you have embodied active tolerance and, through that, you serve as a critically important role model, especially for our students, and you represent the values that we wish to instill in them in our mission to transform lives and societies.”

Among the special guests in attendance at today’s event were former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese; social entrepreneur and autism advocate, Adam Harris; social justice advocate, Michael Barron; and Employer Disability Information HR & Disability Project Manager, Seonaid O’Murchadha.

 

Yesterday’s event was held at The Helix, DCU, Glasnevin.

 

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