Stephen C. Ainlay, PhD
President, Union College in New York


The INSIGHT Into Diversity Giving Back Award honors college presidents and chancellors who go above and beyond their everyday duties to give back to their institutions and communities. President Ainlay was nominated by colleagues and selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity as a 2016 Giving Back Award recipient for his dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion and encouraging community service both on his campus and in the surrounding community. 

Established Initiative
The Presidential Forum on Diversity, an initiative focused on fostering conversations about diversity and inclusion across the Union College campus that has featured well-known speakers, including Maya Angelou, Soledad O’Brien, and more

Diversity and Inclusion Actions
Established the position of chief diversity officer at Union; the Unity Room, a safe space for conversations and dialogues around topics related to diversity and inclusion; a prayer and meditation room to provide a safe space for people of all religions to pray on campus

Increasing Cultural Competence
Ainlay supported efforts to establish a diversity and inclusion certification course for faculty and administrators. The course assists employees with understanding where they are on the cultural competence spectrum and in learning about diversity in order to improve campus climate. Lecture topics include microaggressions, race and culture, religious and spiritual life, mental health and disability, and LGBTQ and equity.

Nomination Excerpt
“President Ainlay has a positive, welcoming relationship with our students from traditionally marginalized populations. While our students were leading protests around Black Lives Matter and other national concerns, the president supported their efforts by wearing the colors students were marching in and by attending these rallies in solidarity. Afterwards, the students thanked him for his support and also shared some of their concerns and plans for the next term.”