Campus News

Strength in diversity

Associate provost for institutional diversity discusses efforts to make UGA more inclusive

Columns: Can you give a brief overview of what’s going on in the Office of Institutional Diversity these days?

Dozier: We stay busy in OID promoting campus-wide events and activities in conjunction with other units to ensure a welcoming cultural climate and to promote diversity. One example is Georgia Daze, where we bring minority students to campus each spring and partner them with a current student to get a taste of life as a Bulldog. We enlist the help of faculty in contacting minority students who have been accepted to UGA to encourage them to attend.

Our office recently hosted the fifth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast with the Athens-Clarke County government and school system. We had an overflow crowd for the event, where Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, a 1970 graduate of UGA’s School of Law, gave an inspirational talk, and four members of the UGA and local community were honored for their community service.

We also have just put in place a 36-member Diversity Advisory Council that will work to conduct a university-wide cultural climate study and prepare a UGA Diversity Action Plan with models for “best practices” that can be replicated across campus.

One of our many partnerships is working with diversity representatives from seven academic units and the Graduate School as they work within their schools/colleges to increase diversity and create inclusive environments.

In the area of diverse student recruitment and retention we have a number of projects, such as the National Science Foundation-funded Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, in which UGA is the lead institution in the coalition of six state colleges and universities that aims to significantly increase the number of underrepresented minority students statewide who complete undergraduate degrees in the STEM majors: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.   

We are also very supportive of UGA staff by providing diversity training through Training and Development, as well as offering guidance to graduate teaching assistants and faculty.

Columns:  What about community outreach?

Dozier:  The university is committed to increasing our supplier diversity, and I have been working with the Minority Business Action Council of the Athens Chamber of Commerce to look for solutions. Currently, we are working with the staff in Finance and Administration to organize an expo for small and minority business owners to meet and network with UGA departmental purchasing and business managers. We also provide pre-collegiate outreach to elementary, middle and high school students through campus visits and summer institutes. We partner with the Greensboro Dreamers Project from Greene County, and this fall we hosted students from several Atlanta-area schools, as well as from Gainesville.

Columns:  What has surprised you about your position?

Dozier:  This is a very large university with many key people and student leaders, and it did surprise me how long it took to get around and meet with everyone who is working toward the goal of diversity. I was pleasantly surprised at all the support and encouragement my office has received campus-wide.

Columns:  How have you involved faculty?

Dozier:  We have an ongoing faculty-student mentoring program and are always trying to recruit more faculty to work with first-year students of color. We also will sponsor more faculty development seminars on diversity using our faculty who have this expertise. Another focus is increased recruitment and retention of diverse faculty campus-wide. Plans are to sponsor a symposium on recruiting and retaining diverse faculty later this year.
Columns:  What is one of the biggest challenges of your position?

Dozier:  One of the biggest challenges is reframing diversity as strength. We must find ways to educate one another on issues of diversity and equity without placing blame and becoming defensive. We also need more financial resources to do this work, and we are pleased that we recently received a gift from Georgia Power that will help us address some new diversity initiatives as well as enhance existing programs.

 We cannot change history but we can move forward. Together we can find ways to make UGA a more inclusive campus at all levels.