Meet Our Experts: Bruce Bernstein
In education, we are fortunate to work with motivated and interesting people from different backgrounds.
Throughout my career, I have worked across departments and disciplines, building relationships, working cross-culturally, and facilitating inclusive environments.
Prior to joining CASE Europe as executive director in 2018, I worked on the admissions team and in the publications bureau at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in business development at CASE, and as a fundraiser for the University of Chicago, Aga Khan University, and the Tate Museum.
At MIT, we knew that, historically, the institution’s applicant pool was significantly white and male, and that demographics were changing in the U.S. For MIT to remain competitive in the world, we needed to attract a diverse applicant pool. So, we focused on making our recruitment materials inclusive, highlighting stories of underrepresented minority students in the MIT community—both the opportunities and challenges. The overriding message was: You belong here.
There was concern about our recruitment materials and videos amongst some academics, staff, and even students. But fortunately, I worked with a talented team that was passionate about and committed to bringing a diverse group of students to MIT. Due to the great support from of a range of departments, recruitment of women and underrepresented minority students increased significantly.
Early on in my career, CASE showed me that advancement represents the whole journey of an institution. Advancement professionals assist students, donors, and alumni to find their place within institutions and to help build its future. So, teams must be connected. Fundraising takes a village.
I have always enjoyed building connections and alliances between groups of people from different backgrounds all working towards a common goal. But to get to that goal together, you need to listen to others so you can understand where they would like to be and where they are coming from.
To be inclusive, you must stay curious about the world, about your donors, and about the institutions where you work. Don’t make assumptions about people or give into stereotypes. Understand place, background, and perspective, including your own interests and biases. Ask yourself, how do we get to a common goal?
Here at CASE, we are committed to facilitating conversations between our members to learn from each other, for the betterment of the sector and society, even when that is made more difficult in a pandemic.
CASE ToGathers were created when CASE staff and its members went remote around the globe. These interactive opportunities allow our community of advancement professionals to have open dialogue around particular topics.
In addition, the CASE Europe Multi-Cultural Network was founded in 2019 to hold open conversations and challenge the diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in advancement. The network aims to help diversify the sector, ensuring that talented individuals from all backgrounds are attracted and retained. We encourage all members to join.
I always keep in the back of my mind that our goal in advancement is to make the world a better place and that there’s no better way to do that than through education.
Article appears in:
Community, Celebration, and Change: How traditions bridge past, present, and future. Plus, understanding how equity is central to institutions’ pursuit of social and racial justice, engaging alumni of color, and investing in alumni during trying times.