Diversity and Inclusion

Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

At F&S, one of our guiding principles is that we are fully committed to “a diverse workforce in an inclusive workplace that unleashes the talents of all employees to create value, deliver superior support, and develop innovative solutions for the customers we serve. “

As an organization, we fully support the university’s commitment to the most fundamental principles of academic freedom, equality of opportunity, and human dignity which requires that “decisions involving students and employees be based on merit and free from discrimination in all its forms.”

By creating a workplace that allows everyone to feel welcome and provides equal access to opportunity for success, we will strengthen our role supporting the mission of the university. Ultimately, creating an ongoing discussion about diversity and inclusiveness will make our organization better and move us closer to meeting the evolving needs of customers.

Diversity Committee 

The F&S Diversity and Inclusion Committee was created in February 2015 as a part of a campus-wide effort to engage all individuals on the Urbana campus in discussion about diversity and inclusivity. The committee created a vision statement and assessed the culture and commitment to diversity and inclusion at F&S through a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. Based on discussions, SWOT analysis, and data review, the committee developed a Diversity and Inclusion  Plan, which includes guiding principles and actionable items.

2018-19 Committee Members

Steve Bainbridge, Operations, Maintenance & Alterations  – Chair

Ken Buenting, Operations, Maintenance & Alterations
Kanchan Bulbule, Shared Administrative Services
Keith Erickson, Utilities & Energy Services
Ayush Gupta, Utilities & Energy Services
Clarence Odom, Capital Programs
Terrylynn Roy, Safety and Compliance
Jim Sims, Engineering & Construction Services
Ryan Wild, Engineering & Construction Services

Ex Officio:
Maria Thompson, Shared Administrative Services (Past Chair)
Eric Smith, Human Resources, Diversity, & Strategy
Melvin Boatner, Employee Relations/Human Resources
Maureen Banks, Safety and Compliance
Rebecca Bigelow, Customer Relations & Communications

  • FY18 Diversity and Inclusion Committee
  • FY17 Diversity and Inclusion Committeee
  • FY16 Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Action Plan

Strengthening our commitment to diversity and inclusion takes a team effort and the ability to turn energy and ideas into action that will support our goal of promoting a respectful work environment where individuals feel valued and their contribution matters. 

The F&S Diversity and Inclusion Committee’s 2018 Action Plan emphasizes enhancing existing organizational training programs along with promoting new engagement activities.  

The committee identified future opportunities (D&I Calendar) that will strive to maximize staff participation through collaborations and partnerships in the local community:

  • C-U Initiative for Labor Diversity
  • Champaign Unit #4 School District Summer Trades Apprentice Program
  • Education to Careers and Professions
  • Trades Tuesdays
  • Brown Bag Discussions
  • Habitat for Humanity Build

Thanks to the committee members for their hard work to expand F&S diversity and inclusion activities and build on the ways we can make a difference.

Feature Story

Group rises to the occasion to help disabled students

F&S elevator mechanics, Disability Resources & Educational Services (DRES), and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) received the 2016 Larine Y. Cowan Excellence in Access and Accommodations award sponsored by the University of Illinois Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access.

The group was nominated by DRES Director Pat Malik for their Wireless Elevator Remote Control (WERC) project.

“I thought it was remarkable that three very different units could come together and do something like this,” Malik said.

The project was initiated in 2007 when former elevator foreman Jeff Miller noted that many students with severe physical disabilities were unable to independently access the buttons within an elevator due to reasons such as the elevator being too small for a wheelchair to turnaround or the student not having the reach or dexterity to utilize the controls.

The WERC project design was twofold. First, ECE worked with the elevator mechanics to create an antenna that could interact with the various electrical configurations found in lifts. Then the department had to design the call boxes. 

Fitting an elevator with wireless controls begins when Malik identifies a building as one a disabled student needs to access. Next, she submits a work order to the Elevator Shop, which places an antenna on the lift to allow a WERC to interact with the elevator’s internal controls.

While that’s happening, a disability specialist at Beckwith Residential Support Services works with the student to determine what type of call box would work best for him or her. ECE then creates a remote control with the necessary individual features, which can range from simple buttons to voice activation. The original plans called for the elevators to be controlled with a mobile device application, but the group found out that someone else already had a patent on such an application.

Currently there are 31 campus elevators which are accessible for those who need to use a remote control call box. More will be added as the need arises or funding is available.

“We have a really good team of people,” Malik said. “We’ve had our bumps and bruises, but we figured things out together as a team. And everyone who worked on this project did so above and beyond their normal job responsibilities.”