With an increasing number of institutions of higher education committing to it, “diversity” figures heavily in contemporary academic contexts. This essay is a philosophical interrogation of diversity as an analytical-normative category. I argue that the concept has at least two distinctive layers. The first and widely prevalent layer captures its definition in terms of “composition.” This essay focuses on a second layer, which conceptualizes diversity as “poise.” I define “poise” as the ability to convert “visible” difference into “presence.” I find certain insights from the thought of Josiah Royce very helpful in beginning to develop the vocabulary of presence, which then goes on to form the basis of the concept of poise as I articulate it. Developing poise calls for a certain kind of “institutional agency,” and I find aspects of a Roycean understanding of the relation between individual and community insightful in this regard. I argue that diversity as a matter of poise calls for a distinct “ethics of diversity,” which involves, among other things, the building of “diversity competence.” While aspects of my analysis are inspired by the philosophy of Josiah Royce, my philosophical approach to diversity also moves beyond a Roycean paradigm.

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