Cultural competence is one of the pillars of our public affairs mission, and inclusiveness is a critical value that guides our campus.
Our long-range plan emphasizes the university’s commitment to inclusive excellence.
All of us must do our part to make everyone feel welcome and a sense of belonging at Missouri State University regardless of their race, nationality, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender identity, and broadly diverse backgrounds, experiences and characteristics.
Everyone has a place at this university, and every single student and member of our faculty and staff are important to the fabric of our community.
Working toward a more inclusive campus
We have focused on valuing the inclusion of diversity for over a decade. That focus continues as we start this school year.
The new Multicultural Resource Center in Plaster Student Union is open. It is a welcoming space for students to interact, study and engage in campus life at Missouri State.
If you haven’t already done so, please stop by to check out this exciting new addition to our campus footprint.
During the first week of classes, we hosted a large group of students, faculty, staff, administrators and members of the Springfield community for a Multicultural Networking Reception in the Davis-Harrington Welcome Center.
Our focus was to support students engaged with our multicultural services on campus and provide them with the opportunity to broadly network with people on and off campus who are committed to helping them succeed in academics and their careers.
Last week, our student athletes and athletic staff held a Unity Walk. This walk is a tradition our student athletes started last year to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion at Missouri State University and to stand in solidarity with those directly impacted by injustice and racism.
We also have over 100 first-year students and over 100 returning students engaged with the Bears LEAD (Leadership, Empowerment, Achievement and Diversity) program this fall.
Bears LEAD provides students with opportunities to:
- Meet new friends.
- Create connections with faculty and staff.
- Connect with mentors.
- Explore Springfield.
- Participate in community service projects.
- Gain academic support.
- Participate in personal/professional development workshops.
- Attend cultural events and social activities.
- And much more.
Last year we piloted a new diverse faculty mentoring program called Bear Bridge. The pilot was very successful, and we will grow the program this year.
Bear Bridge is designed to foster collaboration between junior and senior faculty during the tenure track process. I adamantly support this program and its work. If you are a tenure-track diverse faculty member, I encourage you to join this program and connect with the opportunities and resources it provides.
You can register to join the program as a mentor or mentee online.
More events and initiatives designed to facilitate an inclusive climate on our campus will occur throughout the year. These activities are designed to facilitate an inclusive climate and institutional culture that values the rich diversity that all campus and community stakeholders bring to Missouri State University.
Examples of these events, initiatives and activities include:
- The Facing Racism Institute will offer program opportunities throughout the fall and spring semesters and at the Collaborative Diversity Conference in the spring.
- Professional development opportunities for faculty, staff and students addressing inclusive excellence, cultural competence, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
- The Student Diversity in Leadership Institute and a Racial Equity Initiative for 25 BIPOC student leaders. Applications are being accepted through Sept. 10; work sessions will begin Sept. 16.
- The United Academy for Inclusion and Belonging for stakeholders on campus and in the external community.
Please check Inside Missouri State and the university’s other communication channels for information as new opportunities to participate in campus and community events and activities arise.
Make a difference
Advancing new initiatives and attending campus events isn’t enough.
It is important that we all work every day to enhance the climate of our campus and make our community inclusive and welcoming to all comers. This requires intentional action to encourage people in our daily interactions, seek out and offer support to members of our campus community who have been excluded, and intervene when we see inequity, injustice and unfair treatment.
I hope you will join me on the journey to do this important work and continue to make our campus a welcoming environment for all.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!