Bookmark and Share

Our Champions

Noelle Chaddock Paley

Profile Picture

"I want students to understand what difference is and what difference does. I want them to feel engaged, welcome, comfortable — to have what they need to feel valued. Because when you feel valued, you produce at your very best."


Every year, Professor Paley takes a group of students to a camp north of Cortland for the Multicultural Student Leadership Retreat. There the group, diverse in ways obvious and not, spends two days doing team-building exercises, talking about what they have in common and how they’re different, and really getting to know each other. The days are full of what she calls “impactful student engagement moments,” and that’s pretty much the point. 

“There’s something very powerful,” Professor Paley says, “about the Jewish student telling the student from the Caribbean about her faith, and the Caribbean student teaching the Jewish student Spanish, while they both take turns braiding each other’s hair.” 

The retreat is one of many ways she and her office work to make Cortland safe, positive and diverse. The office advocates for fairness and equity across the College and sponsors many programs, from a diversity conference to a Kente Ceremony at graduation. The activities help students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members attain and sustain diversity and equity.

“Diversity is the new necessity in higher education,” says Professor Paley, who has twice been honored by Cortland students as an Exemplary Woman of Color. “You need to have these experiences.”

And whether she’s presiding over a ropes-course exercise or meeting to resolve a conflict, Professor Paley helps students navigate those experiences in constructive and insightful ways. 

“I want students to understand what difference is and what difference does,” she says. “I want them to feel engaged, welcome, comfortable. I want them to have what they need to feel valued. Because when you feel valued, you produce at your very best.”