A Question & Answer Session with Eric Ellis

Wright State President David Hopkins, right, meets in his office with Eric Ellis, president of Integrity Development Corp. Ellis's company is helping Wright State conduct a cultural assessment designed to strengthen the university's diversity initiatives.

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Wright State works with distinguished alumnus Eric Ellis to strengthen diversity initiative

To help Wright State University strengthen its diversity initiatives, the university has hired Integrity Development, a West Chester, Ohio-based consulting firm whose president and CEO is Eric Ellis. Ellis attended Wright State and was on the basketball team that won the NCAA Division II championship in 1983. His father, Duke Ellis, was an assistant dean at Wright State. The Duke E. Ellis Human Development Institute, a clinical training site for Wright State School of Professional Psychology students and faculty, was named after him.

Ellis graduated with a business degree in 1984 and earned his master’s degree in planning from the University of Cincinnati in 1986. After working for the University of Cincinnati for several years, Ellis left to become managing director of Inroads, a career-development organization for talented minorities. In 1991, he founded Integrity Development Corp., a management consulting firm that specializes in diversity and inclusion initiatives. The company has worked with major corporations such as Honda and Toyota as well as government agencies and educational institutions.


How would you describe the work your firm is doing at Wright State?

“We are making a comprehensive effort to improve Wright State’s ability to celebrate the diversity of its students, faculty, staff, and community. We seek to assist Wright State in creating an environment that is achieving measurable results as it relates to diversity and inclusion. President David R. Hopkins has been clear that he wants to strengthen Wright State’s ability to be viewed as welcoming to all. The ultimate goal is to prepare students with the skills necessary to succeed in a global marketplace. Their success will depend in part on their ability to embrace diverse people and points of view.”

“This work could be described as a university-wide initiative, sponsored by the president, led internally by Dr. Gary Leroy (Vice President of Multicultural Affairs and Community Engagement), and supported professionally by our firm, Integrity Development. Our work seeks to assist Wright State in taking an objective look at itself with respect to diversity and inclusion. It’s important to celebrate many of the successes that have been achieved, while striving for continuous improvement.”

What can the Wright State community expect to see over the next few months?

“Our work quite simply will take place in three phases.”

“Phase I is the assessment of current conditions. We have spent several months studying what Wright State has done regarding diversity in the past as well as currently. This phase will culminate in the campus-wide Cultural Assessment, which begins on Sept. 27 for all students, faculty, and staff.”

“Phase II is studying Wright State’s Centers of Excellence and establishing a measurable strategic plan. This phase will allow our team, along with a diverse cross-section of the Wright State community, to identify, visit and learn from institutions that are creating centers of excellence regarding diversity and inclusion. We will then identify best practices and refine Wright State’s vision for diversity and inclusion, along with establishing a strategic plan that will seek to close the gaps in measurable ways between where Wright State is today and where it ultimately wants to be.”

“Phase III is implementing the plan, strengthening diversity and inclusion competency, and measuring results. This is an ongoing process that will place Wright State in an elite group of universities that are committed to providing the very best learning environment for all students while preparing them to succeed in the most important aspect of any job or career—working effectively with diverse people and points of view.”

How would you describe the campus-wide cultural assessment?

“It is an opportunity for the Wright State community to share its perspective regarding diversity and inclusion. We are asking some very straightforward questions about the quality of the university environment. We want to know if people feel valued and respected. We want to know how they view themselves and others. We will then analyze their feedback for key insights to incorporate into our strategic plan. The assessment is a way of ensuring that this initiative is inclusive of input from everyone, not just a select few.”

How would you describe diversity?

“We believe diversity is defined as the individual and group differences that make each of us unique. We believe that diversity is broad. We believe that connecting with others who are different from us, though not natural for many, is beneficial to all.”

Any final thoughts?

“Diversity is ultimately about everyone. At the end of the day, we are people. This world is a better place if we learn to live together in harmony and understanding. Our work is a journey, one that is open to the input of anyone who wants to see Wright State succeed in achieving its mission. President Hopkins, Dr. Leroy, and our firm all aligned in our commitment to make this process open and transparent for all who are interested.”

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