UGA efforts to increase Graduate School diversity reflected in Black Issues in Higher Education rank

ATHENS, Ga. – Black Issues in Higher Education recently ranked the University of Georgia 16th in the nation for the number of doctorate degrees conferred upon African Americans. The ranking reflects ongoing initiatives by the Graduate School to increase diversity at UGA through the efforts of the director of recruitment and retention.

Through summer research opportunities, assistantships, visitation days, graduate recruitment fairs, graduate prep workshops and correspondence with prospective students, among other programs, the number of African Americans enrolled in graduate school at UGA increased from 384 in 2001 to 464 in 2002 – an increase of more than 20 percent.

“I am very appreciative and pleased with the success of the UGA Graduate School’s recruitment and retention programs in significantly increasing the number of doctorate degrees conferred upon African-American students,” said Arnett C. Mace, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “This success will enhance the pool of African-American candidates for
academic positions to further the diversity of our faculty and others.”

The Graduate School’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) provides outstanding undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups the chance to work closely with faculty in an intensive summer research experience. SURP gives undergraduates firsthand exposure to graduate school and faculty life by placing them with instructors whose work
is closely related to the student’s academic interests and career goals.

During the eight-week program, participants master important research skills and contribute to work that is a vital part of the academic research world. In combination with intensive research, SURP seminars and workshops assist students with preparation for entering into masters and doctoral programs in science and mathematics at UGA. The program also provides information on accessing financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

Among the many faculty mentors working with SURP students is Dr. K. Paige Carmichael D.V.M., a pathologist at UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s a pleasure working with these young people. They are smart, highly motivated, and very, very focused on their future careers,” said Carmichael. “I am so proud of UGA for its support of these exceptional
scholars and am honored to have been a part of this program.”

The Graduate Recruitment Opportunities (GRO) assistantship is designed to encourage and recruit entering graduate students who are considered first generation, educationally or economically disadvantaged or have some aspects of a uniquely diverse background that may add to the individual’s discipline of study. Violet Jones, a third-year doctoral student and GRO recipient, received first place in the education paper competition at this year’s National Black Graduate Student Association Conference.

Through its Visitation Days program, the Graduate School brings prospective graduate students to campus for visits with faculty and administrators, informational sessions with current graduate students and a number of social activities. (Visitation Days for 2003 are scheduled for Nov. 13-15.)

The Graduate School hosts a number of on-campus workshops on inclusiveness and diversity throughout the school year. The Graduate School director of recruitment and retention coordinates these events. Beverly Tatum, president of Spelman College, and Howard Adams, diversity consultant and former executive director of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, led two of the most recent workshops. These workshops assist UGA faculty on “how to better” receive students from underrepresented populations. Additionally, the office conducted workshops on “How to Prepare for Graduate School” at numerous institutions across the country.

“I am excited about the all the programs we have developed over the past 3 years and the opportunities that are being afforded to prospective graduate students from underrepresented populations,” said Curtis D. Byrd, director of recruitment and retention. “The Graduate School’s programs, such as the Visitation Days and the Graduate Recruitment Opportunities (GRO) assistantship, have come to fruition and been successful in the recruitment of these students. With the support of our new dean, Maureen Grasso, and the Office of Institutional Diversity, headed by Keith Parker, we can continue to increase diversity initiatives at UGA.”

For more information on the Black Issues ranking, visit www.blackissues.com (a subscription is required to access the rankings). For more information on recruitment and retention in the Graduate School, visit www.gradsch.uga.edu/rr/.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos of the 2003 Summer Undergraduate Research Program are available by calling 706/542-6927.