DEAN TROY RIDDLE HAS A GOAL FOR THE STUDENTS OF ALBANY LAW SCHOOL. “I want them to be the most culturally intelligent lawyers ever,” said the school’s new assistant dean for diversity and inclusion. It doesn’t matter what the students’ ethnicities or backgrounds are—they can all learn. “You can be diverse and not be culturally intelligent,” Riddle said. “Just having a characteristic or cultural background doesn’t make you self-aware.”
In the short-term, he’s confident his efforts will make the school a more welcoming community. And in the long-term, he predicts that the students will see dividends in their personal and professional lives. “I believe you relate better with clients. You look at facts in a different way that can help you with strategy,” he said. “It mitigates barriers to effective representation.”
He is also working with the faculty and staff, believing that some simple changes can go a long way. At one faculty meeting, he shared the story of a first-year student who felt she was rarely called on in her class because her name was perceived as unusual and difficult to pronounce. He had two messages: “It’s important to try. And if you’re not sure, it’s no excuse,” he said. “Names have significance.” The law school now has three committees focusing on issues of diversity, from the perspectives of faculty, students, and staff.
“I think in three years, this school will be a different place,” Riddle said. “We want to make sure we leave no stone unturned in making this the most inclusive law school ever.”