For the sixth consecutive year, the University of Georgia’s far-reaching commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion has been recognized with a national award.
The INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award is the only national recognition honoring colleges and universities that exhibit outstanding efforts and success in the area of diversity and inclusion. Rather than recognizing a single program or unit, the award highlights a range of student, faculty and staff initiatives at the university.
“The University of Georgia is proud to be a national leader in promoting diversity and inclusion throughout our institution,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I appreciate this recognition from INSIGHT Into Diversity once again for our successes in this important area and our efforts to go even further.”
The central role that diversity plays at UGA is outlined in the institution’s mission statement, and efforts to promote diversity and inclusion include programs to recruit and support historically underrepresented and first-generation students; recruit and retain diverse faculty; and promote a living, learning and working environment where differences are respected and celebrated.
“The University of Georgia proudly embraces the diversity that is found in our faculty, staff and students,” said Michelle Cook, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives. “We also are committed to building a community, culture and climate where everyone is supported and where everyone can be successful.”
The diversity of perspectives and backgrounds that students bring to the University of Georgia enriches the learning environment by preparing students for success in the global society of the 21st century.
To help recruit historically underrepresented and first-generation students, staff from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and several other campus units visit high schools across the state through programs such as Road Dawgs. The university recently partnered with the Clarke County School District to launch a college readiness program known as Georgia Possible, and a new program known as Gear Up for High School brings eighth graders and their parents to campus, where they learn about the transition to high school and beyond. This fall, the university also offered free chartered bus transportation to students and families at 18 high schools in rural Georgia to provide an additional way for them to attend Peach State Tour events and learn about opportunities for higher education at UGA and elsewhere in the state.
To encourage admitted students to enroll at UGA, the Office of Institutional Diversity hosts programs such as Georgia Daze, Movimiento Latino and the Georgia African American Male Experience. In addition, several of the university’s schools and colleges offer programs focused on specific fields, such as agriculture, business, pharmacy and veterinary medicine.
UGA has several long-standing and recent programs that help incoming students navigate the university and the many academic resources it offers. The yearlong RISE Scholars program, which was launched in 2018 and is funded by the President’s New Approaches to Promote Diversity and Inclusion Grants Program, offers first-year students from underrepresented groups a series of workshops and networking events that ease the transition to college. The ALL Georgia program supports students from rural parts of the state in their transition to UGA, while the federally funded TRIO programs offered through the Division of Academic Enhancement support low-income students, first-generation college students and students with disabilities. The recently launched Early Start/Early Success program, for example, helps incoming first-generation students form meaningful academic connections.
The National Science Foundation-funded Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, which earlier this year received an Inspiring Program in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity, helps to increase the number of minority undergraduate students pursuing STEM degrees. In addition, the NSF-funded Bridges to the Doctorate program and the TRIO McNair Scholars program work to increase the number of underrepresented students pursuing graduate degrees. UGA colleges and departments also offer programs such as Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences and, in the School of Law, the Robinson Scholars Program and the Benham Scholars Program.
Additionally, the generous support of donors has enabled the creation of more than 450 need-based Georgia Commitment Scholarships since 2017.
To support an inclusive environment, the university’s Office of Faculty Affairs offers a faculty learning series that includes workshops on cultural competency for recruitment and retention and creating inclusive academic teams. In addition, it offers trainings for search committee members that focus on best practices and sponsors a faculty learning community on resources for diverse faculty retention. Programs such as the Women’s Leadership Fellowship are part of a range of professional development resources that help build a pipeline of future leaders for the institution.
In addition to fostering a sense of community, affinity groups such as the Black Faculty and Staff Organization assist with the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students. Through the voluntary Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion program offered by Training and Development in the Office of Human Resources, faculty and staff choose from a range of courses that increase awareness and understanding of diversity. Since the program was launched in 2012, more than 5,000 faculty and staff members have participated.
“The breadth of programs and initiatives focused on diversity highlights the University of Georgia’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment that promotes academic excellence,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I am deeply grateful to our faculty, staff and students for their ongoing dedication to building community.”