Purdue University Calumet Cultivates Multiculturalism
Purdue University Calumet, a regional university based in Hammond, Ind.,
which is part of Purdue University, believes that reaching out and engaging
the community is vital for promoting diversity and inclusivity.
Exposing students, faculty, administration and local residents to different
cultures is a major facet of Purdue University Calumet’s diversity efforts.
The university’s Building Community through the Arts Committee, for example, sponsors a biannual event to celebrate cultures.
“We feature a culture that is represented on our campus among our faculty, staff and students,” explains Regina Biddings-Muro, Executive
Assistant to the Chancellor for Engagement. “The cultural dance, song and
Regina other events is an inviting way for people to get an insight into various cul-
Biddings-Muro tures, and these insights help us to build a bridge to better understanding.”
The university has celebrated many cultures, including Hungary, India and
Greece, and each event usually draws approximately 350 people. Most recently,
“Celebrating Middle Eastern Cultures” took place last November and showcased 10 of the 24 countries that make up the Middle East. Faculty, staff and students from Bahrain, Lebanon, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Palestine,
Syria as well as Saudi Arabia helped organize the event. The celebration featured a Middle Eastern dance group and a performance by Arab-American
comedian Ray Hanania. Booths at the event displayed cultural artifacts and
Throughout the year, student clubs and organizations put on a variety of cultural events, which include everything from commemorating Martin Luther King
Jr.’s life to Hindu students celebrating “Diwali,” the Festival of Lights.
Leading all the university’s multicultural efforts is Purdue University Calumet’s
Multicultural Campus Council. Revamped and strengthened in 2005, the Council
now has broad representation, including faculty, administration and students
from across the entire campus. “The idea is to make sure that we attempt to
hear every voice in our efforts to promote multiculturalism,” Biddings-Muro
Keeping diversity at the forefront has benefited the city, its work force
and its corporate community, particularly as the region’s demographics
“Diversity has played have shifted, says Diversity Affairs Director Robin Shackleford.
According to U.S. Census data, Indianapolis’ Latino population, for
a prominent role in instance, has grown 295 percent over the past decade; its Vietnamese
Indianapolis because population has increased 104 percent.
“Having a multicultural community helps us attract more diverse and
it’s good for business.” younger workers that companies want to employ,” explains Assistant
Mayor Steven Campbell. “It is an economic-development tool.”
To embrace new residents of all cultures, Indianapolis recently
launched the Immigrant Welcome Center, an outreach program that
was the brainchild of First Lady Amy Minick Peterson. She saw firsthand how recent immigrants faced language and cultural barriers in this
country, preventing them from connecting with public agencies that
could provide much-needed assistance. Today, culturally competent
Welcome Center workers regularly canvass Indianapolis’ community to
help new residents gain access to city services. In addition, the
Indianapolis Commission on Latino Affairs hosts financial-literacy workshops, providing money-management advice such as how to open a
bank account or apply for a home loan.