DIVERSITY INITIATIVES AND PROGRAMMING
The examples cited below are not all-inclusive, rather they are illustrative of current diversity programming and initiatives that currently exist. In some cases these examples are specific to the population in a particular unit, while in others there is cross-departmental collaboration.
- Office of Diversity and Equity
- Division of Enrollment Planning & Management
- Division of Student Affairs
- Global Affairs
- Office of Public Engagement
- Veterans Affairs and Military Programs
- Institute for Student Success
- Interdisciplinary Academic Institutes
- College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- School of Fine Arts
- School of Social Work
- Neag School of Education
- School of Business
- School of Law
OFFICE OF DIVERSITY AND EQUITY
The Office of Diversity and Equity conducts numerous trainings for all employees on an ongoing basis. These include Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and Diversity Awareness training, which all employees are required to attend within six months of hire. In addition, ODE conducts search committee training, which includes significant focus on proven methods to enhance diversity of candidates for jobs, and mechanisms for countering committee member inherent bias. Furthermore, in partnership with Human Resources, Labor Relations, and the Office of Audit, Compliance and Ethics (OACE), ODE presents on advanced concepts for managers in diversity, non-discrimination and civility in the University’s newly-launched Management Support and Development Training, a full-day management training program provided to new managers within six months of hire or promotion. ODE also regularly conducts tailored trainings and presentations to both students and employees throughout the University where investigations reveal the need for further dialogue, programming, or training. Finally, ODE regularly sponsors or co-sponsors campus-wide speakers from across the nation who bring expertise on issues of diversity and discrimination to the University community.
DIVISION OF ENROLLMENT PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT
Efforts by the Division of Enrollment Planning and Management to enhance undergraduate student diversity have been effective, as is indicated by the enrollment of record numbers of minority students and international students. The many recruitment initiatives of the Undergraduate Admissions office include programming specifically tailored to enhance the interest and enrollment of minority students; such as targeted outreach, collaboration with urban schools and community based organizations, visitation programs, application events, calling events, and much more. Likewise, UConn’s Office of Student Financial Aid Services works to optimize the utilization of limited institutional funds in an effort to ensure affordability for our neediest students and to enhance economic diversity among our students.
DIVISION OF STUDENT AFFAIRS
The Division of Student Affairs is committed to creating an increasingly inclusive educational institution that attracts, retains, and values talented people from all backgrounds. They provide strong leadership with many campus initiatives that promote a welcoming and inclusive environment in which students and professional colleagues can achieve their fullest potential. Student Affairs supports the University’s diversity goals by:
- Recruiting, retaining and developing a diverse staff with the commitment and expertise to assume responsibility for and support diversity initiatives.
- Developing an ethic of care in Student Affairs that enables students and staff to understand the demands some members face in adapting to the campus environment and the conduct necessary to ensure a positive experience.
- Increasing the diversity of students involved in student organizations through active recruitment and by supporting student organizations that align with their contemporary needs and interests.
- Bolstering resources in the Division’s five cultural centers to promote campus-wide diversity programs and to extend educationally purposeful initiatives that enhance learning, campus engagement and success for students from historically under-represented groups at the University.
- Providing department based and campus-wide co-curricular experiences, educational programs, and services that are inclusive and that contribute to student development and the creation of a more welcoming and inclusive campus community. This includes peer mentoring, leadership development, community service, campus engagement, and educational programs involving various aspects of diversity and social justice.
These goals are achieved in many locations, including cultural centers that serve historically underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities (African American, Puerto Rican/Latin American, Asian American, Native American); The Center for Students with Disabilities; the Institute for Student Success for persons from low-income families and first generation to attend college; the Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs; the Rainbow Center; and the Women’s Center. The Division of Student Affairs’ August 2014 – May 2015 Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Inclusion Staff Development and Educational Programs Report identifies over 1,100 initiatives and programs coordinated by the division during this past academic year.
Global Affairs is committed to supporting the core values of diversity and global engagement at the University of Connecticut through its work on campus, in the local community, and with partners abroad. By promoting the exchange, research and scholarship of students, faculty and staff on campus and with a wide variety of academic institutions, non-profit organizations, private sector companies, and public agencies, Global Affairs encourages and fosters the development of global competency and provides a platform for the support of international initiatives both on and off campus. The work of Global Affairs also dovetails with diversity efforts at UConn in a synergy that builds links between the campus community and global engagement. The need for these connections is articulated in the American Council on Education’s study, At Home in the World: Educating for Global Connections and Local Commitments:
Globalization has blurred the lines between the global and the local, as well as the distinctions between international and domestic diversity. To become responsible, productive citizens who engage fully and successfully in the world around them, our students must possess an understanding of their own cultures and those of their neighbors at home and abroad. They also need the skills to analyze interconnections between global and local systems, which will prepare them for effective participation in our diverse society (http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Pages/AHITW-Toolkit-Main.aspx).
With a mission to foster this kind of cultural competency within the UConn community as a whole, Global Affairs provides services that range from assistance with all matters relating to immigration for foreign students and faculty to increasing student mobility through a broad menu of education abroad opportunities and scholarships that make global learning more accessible for all students. Global Affairs helps to internationalize the campus by its training programs within UConn’s American English Language Institute (UCAELI) and through the Global Training and Development Institute (GTDI), which fosters global sustainable development, capacity building and cross-cultural understanding through two way educational and cultural exchange. Global Affairs also supports the interdisciplinary research, academic offerings, archives and outreach initiatives of the Human Rights Institute, the Dodd Center and the UNESCO Chair and Institute of Comparative Human Rights. In addition, Global Affairs encourages and supports innovative pedagogies and programs that provide students with knowledge and understanding of critical global issues and cultures from a variety of perspectives, disciplines and learning environments.
OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively toward a common goal. It involves individuals from disparate or similar backgrounds who are unified around a need to create social change for the betterment of all. In order for one to be engaged, individuals and organizations must be in a relationship with each other, established and enhanced over time, and centered on an area of significance for all entities involved. The players involved need to understand each other, accept each other’s positions, appreciate the history of beliefs and attitudes brought to a discussion, embrace the lens used by the other and together define a common purpose, goal and method of their work. Engagement is doing with another not for another. Engagement is responsible to one’s culture and respectful of one’s past. Engagement is relevant and responsible action for all parties and together a greater good is achieved.
Community engagement is, at its core, about relationships and partnerships. Effective relationships are established between individuals and organizations when all parties appreciate the talent and positions of each other. Sustainable relationships are created and enhanced when a lens of acceptance and understanding is used instead of a lens of oppression and dominance. A lens of acceptance mandates interaction, involvement and interdependent praxis. Praxis is careful and deliberate action built on a commitment to social justice. This is engagement.
The Office of Public Engagement (OPE) is committed to diversity and their mission is to assist in the development of engaged citizens through coordination, advocacy and capacity building for engagement activities. Civic engagement, service learning, engaged scholarship, university assisted community schools, strategic partnerships, and communities as partners and collaborators are examples of programs and activities offered by the OPE. The work of the office is through and with others across all disciplines, all campuses and all communities.
VETERAN AFFAIRS AND MILITARY PROGRAMS
The University of Connecticut’s Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs (VAMP) provides a full range of benefits and services to students who have served, or continue to serve, in our Armed Forces. These services include benefits processing, event programming and community outreach. VAMP’s goal is to provide an excellent experience for all veterans and members of the military who attend the University of Connecticut and for each of them to know that they are an important and integral part of the University. Veterans are encouraged to utilize VAMP resources in addition to those of other departments throughout the University to maximize their educational experience.
INSTITUTE FOR STUDENT SUCCESS
The Institute for Student Success (ISS), under the purview of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, was created with the goal of providing undergraduate students with the tools for success and to be a tutoring, teaching, learning focal point of undergraduate activities. ISS consists of the following units, which provide academic advising and support, transition assistance, and enrichment opportunities to middle school, high school and college students:
- The Academic Center for Exploratory Students (ACES) offers high quality academic advising and educational planning to students who are exploring and preparing for various degree programs.
- The Center for Academic Programs (CAP) increases access to higher education for students who are first generation to college and/or who come from underrepresented ethnic or economic backgrounds, and also provides support services to aid students’ retention in and graduation from the University.
- First Year Programs and Learning Communities (FYP & LC) help first year and transfer students’ transition to the University, and promote personal and academic development through interdisciplinary courses, peer education, academic support, one-on-one mentoring, and opportunities to live and participate in Learning Communities.
AREA AND ETHNIC STUDIES INSTITUTES
Area and ethnic studies academic institutes, for the most part located in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, provide diverse research and teaching opportunities for our faculty that enrich the student learning experience in addition to university community awareness through distinguished lecture series and programming. These include the Africana Studies Institute; Asian and Asian American Studies Institute; El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies; Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life; and the Human Rights Institute.
COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES
The UConn Department of Geography is in the process of creating a comprehensive Diversity Action Plan. The plan will recognize the overall importance of diversity to the mission of the department and University as well as delineating specific types of diversity that the department seeks to foster. While in some ways a diverse department, it has room to be more inclusive. The department hopes in particular to better showcase its current diversity as a way of attracting more students from diverse backgrounds. The Diversity Plan Committee will use input from faculty, staff and students to develop metrics and both long- and short-term goals to guide future growth. Areas of focus are split between interdepartmental diversity, diversity of students and teaching, and fostering connections outside of the University in communities throughout Connecticut. As the discipline is inherently interested in global multiplicity, its motivation is that the department should reflect this diversity of perspectives.
SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS
Through its exhibiting and performing venues (the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, William Benton Museum of Art, Ballard Museum and Institute of Puppetry, Contemporary Art Galleries, and von der Mehden Recital Hall), the School of Fine Arts brings a range of diverse and global cultural programs to the University. For example, in 2014-2015 the Jorgensen Center hosted performances by Rhythmic Circus, Zap Mama and Antibalas, and the Latin Fest and organized the JOY outreach program for underserved youth. The School of Fine Arts has also focused on diversity in its arts-related academic programming: in 2014-2015, Rashaad Newsome, an artist whose work explores issues of race and sexuality, visited the School as the Robert Gray Memorial Fund lecturer. He gave a public lecture and conducted two workshops for graduate and undergraduate students.
The School has a proportionately large number of faculty who are joint appointments with the Africana Studies Institute, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, El Instituto, and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. The school offers numerous courses each year focused on diversity in the arts and humanities, and through the faculty, has a high level of research productivity in diverse arts and cultures.
The School of Fine Arts has a long standing Diversity Committee composed of faculty and staff, which historically has been chaired by the School’s Assistant Dean. Beginning in 2015-2016, however, it will be chaired by the Dean to bring greater focus on diversity issues. The Diversity Committee’s current mission is to review policies and practices to promote diversity in the School, and this mission will be expanded and refined in the coming year.
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK
The School of Social Work (SSW) has long been committed to maintaining a diverse faculty, staff and student body, as well as working effectively in the context of diversity. The School has one of the highest levels of racial/ethnic diversity in the University by academic unit. In 2015, 42% of tenure track faculty, 25% of staff and 35% of students are from underrepresented groups. The School has promoted and engaged diversity through a range of mechanisms, including sponsoring an annual Diversity Field Seminar, required of all students and faculty and a Diversity and Cultural Competence Convocation for incoming students. Furthermore, the Dean’s Advisory Board includes representatives from organizations that serve diverse communities.
The School’s 2009-2014 Academic Plan highlights a Diversity Goal that entails ensuring “a more diverse, inclusive and just community that fosters cultural competence in teaching, scholarship and service. In 2010, Dean Salome Raheim formed the Just Community: Change Starts Here (formerly the Cultural Competence Action Committee) as a school-wide organizational development effort to increase capacity to promote and work effectively in the context of diversity. The Committee includes representatives from faculty, staff, administration, student body, and community members. The Committee led the SSW Organizational Cultural Competence Self-Assessment Surveys of faculty, staff, students, field instructors, and other external key constituents, which provided basis of planning for organizational change, professional development, and curricular revision efforts.
SSW has conducted focus groups with selected groups of underrepresented students as indicated by survey findings, such as with LGBTQIA & ally students and students of color which generated findings to influence the School’s climate/curriculum related to inclusiveness. The Just Community developed an action plan for School-wide organizational development, which included professional development for faculty, staff, and field instructors; curricular enhancements; and co-curricular programming. It has implemented professional development for faculty, staff, and field instructors, including Safe Zone training (Rainbow Center) and organizational cultural competence workshops led by national experts and has developed programs for students. It also formed the Just Community: Student Sub-Committee, which engages students in the initiative and develops co-curricular activities, for example an Equity Tree artistic installation; conducts evaluation of programs launched by the Initiative; produces a periodic newsletter; and disseminates lessons learned from the Initiative at state and national conferences.
The SSW’s curriculum requires first year students to take a course on human oppression and classes throughout the curriculum address content on cultural competence, power and oppression, social and economic justice, and human rights. Focused areas of study (minor concentrations) allow students to gain deeper insights into structural oppression and dynamics of discrimination and social change: Black Studies for Social Work Practice; International Issues in Social Work; Puerto Rican/Latin@ Studies in Social Work; Social Work Practice with Older Adults; Social Work with Women and Children in Families; Urban Issues in Social Work; Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Social Work Practice. The SSW also prioritizes recruitment and retention of a diverse graduate student body through active recruitment, financial aid support. It has actively recruited members of underrepresented groups at state and regional levels through ongoing relationships with public and private institutions of higher learning, as well as through visibility in key events that target communities of color. It also provides services to support student retention, including writing consultants, mentorship, and leadership development.
NEAG SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
The Neag School of Education is strongly committed to diversity. This is reflected through its faculty, core academic focus, statewide partnerships and national initiatives, and of course its students. Efforts to transform public education must include focused work on closing the achievement gap in U.S. public schools by addressing serious issues of equity and access and on closing the global achievement gap between U.S. students and students in other countries where academic performance is higher. Neag’s newly conceptualized school-wide focus on diversity, equity and access, and global and public engagement is strongly aligned with both the national and state imperatives. Recent Neag School diversity initiatives include the following:
- Established Equity and Social Justice as one of four main strategic areas identified by the 2014-2015 Neag School’s Academic Vision. The overall aim of the Equity and Social Justice strategic area of focus is to position the Neag School (a) to contribute to the evidence base of sound educational policies, practices, and programs that optimize all students’ potential and (b) to identify proven methods to promote educational equity and social justice. Faculty from all departments, particularly the new cadre of faculty hired for the Education Equity, Achievement, and Reform cluster as well as the Education Evaluation and Policy cluster, will join with faculty from other schools and colleges to develop a comprehensive approach and create metrics to assess education equity and student achievement in ways that promote a greater understanding of and ability to predict what influences achievement gaps. Identifying the factors and forces that contribute to these gaps will suggest key levers of change.
- Diversified faculty and teacher candidates. Through a commitment to targeted recruiting, strategic advice from the Neag School Advisory Council on Diversity, and faculty and administrator support, the Neag School has increased the percentage of diverse faculty from about 11% in 2006 to 19% in 2014. Teacher candidate diversity has increased from 11% in 2011 to 14% in 2014.
- Successfully launched the Dean’s Doctoral Scholars Program. The DDS program is designed to attract the best and most diverse doctoral students to the Neag School. This fall the Neag School will welcome its first cohort of Dean’s Doctoral Scholars, who will each receive four years of funding to complete their degree. This outstanding cohort is very diverse, with five of the eight students from underrepresented backgrounds. As intended, the DDS program greatly enhanced efforts to recruit members of diverse groups in all of our advanced programs. Data show an increase in the number of underrepresented and minority (includes Asian Americans) doctoral applicants:
- The number of doctoral student applications increased from 109 in fall 2014 to 160 in fall 2015. During that same time period, the percentage of applicants from underrepresented backgrounds increased from 11.5% to 22.4%—almost doubling—and the percentage of applicants from minority background increased from 35.6% to nearly 50%.
- Among doctoral students admitted in spring 2015, 19% are from underrepresented background and 32% are considered minorities.
- Expanded the role and capacity of the Neag School Academic Advising Office. In 2015, the Neag School hired two new Academic Advisors whose specific charge is to enhance recruitment of students from underrepresented backgrounds. The two new UCPEA employees are members of underrepresented groups and have greatly contributed to the diversity of the Neag community.
- Continued advisement from the Neag School’s Advisory Council on Diversity. With the guidance of the Advisory Council on Diversity, the Neag School has successfully identified priorities in the area of diversity to ensure that its candidates are prepared to work with students from various socio-economic, English language, and special needs backgrounds. The role of the Advisory Council on Diversity was critical to the diversification of our faculty in the past 3-4 years.
- Selected by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) as one of ten institutions nationwide to participate in its Networked Improvement Community (NIC). NIC is aimed at increasing the number of Black and Latino men in teacher preparation and teaching. Participating institutions commit to increasing the number of young men of color in their teacher education programs by 25% over several years and participate in a networked knowledge-sharing community on effective methods.
- Actively involved with the Connecticut Minority Teacher Recruitment Committee. Several Neag School faculty are members of this committee. The aim of the committee is to recruit, support and retain students of color into teacher preparation and the Connecticut teacher labor market.
- Launched Project I.D (Leadership In Diversity). L.I.D. is dedicated to providing support for students from underrepresented backgrounds interested in the field of education. The aim is to help remove the “lid” around educational equity and equip students with the necessary tools, networks and information to be competitive, well-rounded future educators.
SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
The goals of the UConn School of Business Office of Diversity Initiatives include outreach and service excellence. This will be accomplished by increasing the admissions of high-quality minority students at the undergraduate and graduate levels and by providing scholarships, fellowships, mentors and role models to help foster high retention rates and success. Initiatives include:
- Summer Business Academy (SBA) – The Summer Business Academy is a 3-week day program for 15-25 high achieving college-bound students who are interested in pursuing careers in business. The program takes place at the UConn Storrs campus.
- Teenage Business Program – Each year, the Office of Diversity Initiatives collaborates with various high schools and programs to bring high school students from throughout Connecticut to campus for a day-long program of workshops, presentations and a campus tour. These high school students also have the opportunity to attend panel sessions with current UConn students as well as business professionals.
- Travelers EDGE – Travelers EDGE is an innovative educational opportunity developed by Travelers Companies, Inc. Travelers recognizes that students are the leaders of tomorrow who are in the classrooms of UConn today. This unique program gives underrepresented and first generational students resources and support to enhance their degree and make them more competitive in the business world. Travelers EDGE scholars receive a scholarship that covers full in-state tuition and fees, textbooks stipend, mentor, professional and personal development training and workshops as well as an opportunity for an internship at Travelers Inc.
- Gender Diversity in Technology – The School of Business through its partnership with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) works to correct the imbalance of gender diversity in technology. Their Aspirations in Computing program provides awards to high school girls interested in computing and technology and encourages them to pursue their passion.
- Graduate School Recruitment – In collaboration with the School of Business’ PhD program, candidates are recruited for the PhD program through the PhD Project. The PhD Project was founded upon the premise that advancements in workplace diversity could be propelled forward by increasing the diversity of business school faculty. The PhD helps African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Native Americans attain their business PhD and become the business professors who will mentor the next generation of leaders.
- Graduate School Diversity Taskforce – This committee provides support and programming to underrepresented graduate students at UConn. In addition, it serves as the selection committee for graduate school diversity scholarships.
- Students Engaged in Academic Leadership (SEAL) – The SEAL program seeks to bridge the graduation and retention gap of first generation college students by providing academic support, cultivating leadership, and providing professional development and engagement programs
- Diversity in Business Lecture Series – The Diversity in Business Lectures are offered during the fall and spring semesters and consist of a series of presentations by School of Business alumni or industry professionals. The purpose of the lecture series is to provide students with an opportunity to learn about diversity, leadership, creativity, product innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and persuasive communication from industry executives or UConn alumni.
- Professional Development Workshops – Professional development workshops are intended to educate and prepare students for a successful career upon graduating. Participants who attend these workshops gain the soft and technical skills necessary for today’s job market. Past workshops have focused on Public Speaking, Personal Branding and Effective Networking.
- Student Organizations – The Office of Diversity Initiatives serves as the faculty adviser to four student organizations; National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), Association for Latino Professionals in Accounting and Finance (ALPFA), Multicultural Business Society (MBS) and Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). They will also be starting an Asian Business Society in Fall 2015.
- Student Support Services – The Office of Diversity Initiatives provides undergraduate tutoring, academic advising / planning, counseling and mentoring for current and prospective students to the School of Business.
- Corporate External Relations – The Office of Diversity Initiatives collaborates with various corporate partners to develop and provide career, professional and personal student development opportunities for underrepresented and First Generational college students. Partnerships provide financial support through scholarships for tuition, study abroad and conference attendance. They also work directly with corporate partners to secure internships and full-time job opportunities. The office manages the following scholarships and programs that are supported by our partners; Travelers, Coca Cola, Liberty Mutual, Pratt & Whitney / UTC and General Electric. They also serve as a resource for numerous external leadership and student development opportunities.
SCHOOL OF LAW
A bright spot in Law School enrollment of recent years is their track record of diversity. Students of color have comprised about 30% of the student body in recent years. They have fourteen active affinity groups, from a Muslim Law Students Association to a Military Law Students Association, and an active Student Bar Association Diversity Committee that coordinates among them. This is mirrored to an extent in the faculty: three of ten recent faculty hires have been faculty of color, but after two recent departures (one retirement and one move to UC Irvine) UConn Law has only one African-American faculty member. Over the last fifteen years, hires have been roughly equal between male and female faculty, and the school has good representation of LGBT individuals in the faculty, staff, and student body.