Michael Bustamante

Staff Spotlight: Michael Bustamante works to create a more inclusive campus environment

March is Employee Appreciation Month. In that spirit, each week we will put the spotlight on an outstanding staff member who is instrumental in keeping our institution moving forward—even when faced with monumental challenges like those presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Less than a year into his job at Case Western Reserve University, Michael Bustamante is already making an impact. Since starting as the director of diversity and strategic initiatives for the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity (OIDEO) in the midst of a global pandemic, he’s led with innovative ideas—even recently earning recognition for them in a local civic pitch competition.

Michael Bustamante
Michael Bustamante

Robert Solomon, vice president for OIDEO and Bustamante’s supervisor, views his new employee’s accomplishments as no surprise.

“Michael utilized the resources that we have to build relationships to start forging the way toward accomplishing our goals,” Solomon said. “He hasn’t shrunk from that challenge, and he brings a ton of energy to our team and has had a great impact.”

In his role, Bustamante is striving to cultivate a more inclusive campus environment. His first step? He’s developing a three-year, university-wide Diversity Strategic Action Plan, in partnership with offices and units across Case Western Reserve.

“I enjoy the, for lack of a better word, diversity of my role,” said Bustamante. “I can be sitting in one meeting discussing the latest developments of the action plan—and then transition to a learning session on addressing anti-Semitism and Islamophobia within our work.”

His passion for his work shines through every day, according to Solomon, who described Bustamante as warm and engaging, yet analytical and organized.

“When you think about all of that detail-orientedness and organization, you might assume that he’s kind of a hard-edge person, but he’s not,” Solomon explained. “The work that we do is most effective when we’re able to collaborate and build relationships with partners across campus, and that’s been a challenge of the pandemic—but Michael has been able to build connections very quickly because of his personality and how he interacts with people.” 

Bustamante approaches each day as an opportunity to develop, constantly seeking to do more and be better—both personally and professionally. 

He’s nearing completion of a second graduate degree in public administration from The Ohio State University, and he was recently accepted into SEA Change, a social enterprise accelerator program he hopes will expand his diversity, equity and inclusion work.

“I am, and have always been, intrinsically motivated,” he noted. “This field is ever-evolving and my position reflects that need to constantly strategize and innovate.”

Between juggling full-time work, part-time graduate school and the launch of a social enterprise, he’s a bit busy. That hasn’t stopped him from seeing the world, though. He’s traveled to the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu in Peru, Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates, and King Fahd’s Fountain in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—each trip contributing to the unique perspective he brings to his diversity work at Case Western Reserve.