mac with sweep illustrations around him

CIO is nationally recognized for his efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion

October 14, 2022


Helping others feel they belong has been important to Keith McIntosh since he was young.

“As a child, I was cognizant of difference in people and ‘othering’ of people, and it just bugged me,” said McIntosh, vice president and chief information officer at the University.

Growing up in a Black military family, he was often in the minority and almost always the new kid. 

“I'd have to figure out how to establish friendships and how to make connections with people,” he said. “Now as an adult, I want to make an environment where people can come in and just be themselves and feel like this is their place.”

That philosophy earned him national recognition this fall as he was awarded the 2022 EDUCAUSE DEI Leadership award. EDUCAUSE is a national nonprofit focused on advancing higher education through the use of information technology. The DEI Leadership Award honors individuals who display an exemplary commitment in promoting and advancing DEI efforts within the IT profession, at their institutions, and beyond.

We should develop our cross-cultural intelligence so we can foster an inclusive community.
headshot of Keith McIntosh
Keith McIntosh

During the final rounds of his interviews for CIO at the University, McIntosh raised the idea that focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion were instrumental to realizing the institution’s full potential.

Shortly after he started at the University in 2016, McIntosh created a DEI committee within the Information Services division and began facilitating weekly cross-cultural conversations, dubbed “Intersections.” The group was immediately impactful and expanded to include students, faculty, and staff across campus in its second year. The Intersections group has served as a model and spawned other similar discussion groups.

“We should recognize our biases and understand how they influence us,” he said. “We should also develop our cross-cultural intelligence so we can foster an inclusive community. Intersections is a brave space for anyone to delve into topics with a spirit of learning and understanding, to share and express our beliefs and thoughts, and to learn about our own biases and how they impact our understanding of and interactions with others. I am grateful to each person who participates, and I learn so much each week.”

McIntosh came to higher education after a long career in the Air Force. Before UR, he worked at Ithaca College, where he created a Diversity Standing Committee to address biases within the college’s IT team.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion does not sit adjacent to the work we do,” McIntosh said. “I think that sits right in line with the work we do each and every day. In everything we're trying to do, we should be thinking, ‘Is this equitable? Is this inclusive? Who's at the table? Who's not at the table?’ If we do that each day, we're going to be better off for it."