Given recent discussions around MSU’s commitment to diversity and the various programs that impact our goals in this regard, we believe it is important to highlight a few selected efforts led by faculty, students, and the administration in Academic Affairs. We do this with full recognition that there is still much work to be done.
Curricular Initiatives: Within the past two years, two new minors have been approved–one in diversity and a second focusing on studies in disabilities. The curriculum has also been enhanced by requiring all education majors to take a class on diversity. Evidence of student learning indicates that this class and the countless real-life and community based-learning opportunities facilitated by our faculty in many of the academic disciplines are helping to make a difference.
Redesign of General Education: The redesign of our general education program is yet another example of MSU’s commitment to the pillar of cultural competence with goals and emerging metrics developed with assistance from the Director of Assessment, Keri Franklin. The Quality Initiative Project (QIP) facilitated by the Office of Assessment has generated thousands of course-based artifacts and essays collected through the University Exit Exam that provide evidence of engagement by Missouri State students leading to a better understanding of the issues surrounding many forms of diversity. A multi-year collaboration of faculty, staff, students, and administrators has led to the development of a rubric to assess public affairs, including cultural competency.
Faculty Development: Academic Administrators have attended several diversity related workshops organized by the Provost Office to better understand the concerns of inequality that have been part of our campus conversations for some time now. Likewise, the Public Affairs Conference, by design, has been one of the most central and effective ways Academic Affairs has been able to facilitate diversity related conversations involving faculty, students, and our community stakeholders.
Hiring and Recruitment: Academic Affairs has exceeded President Smart’s goal that at least 20% of new hires come from underrepresented areas, including those with disabilities. We have established recruitment practices that give Missouri State better visibility with minority populations. New and expanded diversity scholarship programs provide opportunities that can attract and support graduate and transfer students as well as first-time freshman. These efforts appear to have contributed to the increasing numbers of diverse students reflected in our recent enrollment data.
Student Development: Counselors to Campus is a program facilitated by the College of Education and supported by the Office of the Provost that has increased our effectiveness in making the case that MSU is a safe and intellectually vibrant campus that embraces diversity and welcomes student involvement in relevant conversations.
While there are clearly still many challenges ahead and additional work to be done, the above examples illustrate the commitment of the Academic Affairs units of MSU to diversity initiates designed to strengthen the learning and workplace environments. We intend to continue this commitment as we seek to advance a broad range of actions and discussions on diversity that are inclusive of religious, racial, ethnic, disability, and sexual orientation. We believe that all types of diversity initiatives will strengthen our academic programs.