Campus News

UGA adopts new plan to enhance diversity, inclusion

Dawg Camp Innovate undergraduate students collaborate in small groups on their pitches for business ideas. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

The University of Georgia’s Planning Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence has completed its work, establishing a five-year roadmap to advance diversity and inclusion at UGA.

The plan includes 11 university-level goals ranging from increasing the enrollment of underrepresented students to increasing the number of underrepresented faculty and staff, as well as increasing institutional visibility in the educational pipeline of underserved communities.

The planning process was led by Michelle Cook, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and strategic university initiatives, and Kyle Tschepikow, special assistant to the president and director for strategy and innovation, and included 21 faculty, staff, students, alumni and local community members.

“I want to thank Dr. Cook, Dr. Tschepikow, and the members of the planning committee for their outstanding leadership and service,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead, who charged the planning committee last fall.  “The work of the committee provides a clear path forward to create a better, stronger UGA, and I am excited about the positive impact this new plan will make on our university community in the years ahead.”

Each of the 11 goals in the plan includes key performance indicators to measure progress over time as well as institutional actions to be implemented immediately.  These include developing pipeline programs with targeted high schools, providing training for search committees and hiring authorities, and establishing scholarships for experiential learning in rural Georgia, among other actions.

“As a committee, we recognized the need for longer-range goals as well as the need for action right now, and this plan addresses both of those needs,” said Cook.  “While the plan does not include everything the university will do over the next five years, it signals areas of priority and strategic focus to build on our great momentum in the area of diversity and inclusion.”

The committee established a three-phase process to create the plan. The discovery phase, which wrapped up in December, included conducting more than 40 focus groups with numerous faculty, staff, students, alumni and community stakeholders. The committee then identified major themes across its data collection efforts to guide the next phase of its work—goal development—which spanned much of the spring semester. The final phase will take place over the summer and focus on plan implementation.

“Our focus now is on helping UGA’s schools, colleges and major administrative units to develop corresponding plans that bring the 11 goals to life across campus,” said Tschepikow.  “With every area of our university pulling in the same direction, we hope and expect this plan to set a course for meaningful change that will bear fruit not only over the next five years but also for generations to come.”

In addition to the planning committee, President Morehead also established a Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community to develop initiatives to improve the campus culture and strengthen the learning environment at UGA. Sixteen initiatives developed by the task force already are moving forward, including a diversity educator position, a speakers series, a community read program, campus diversity awards, campus markers to recognize historically Black fraternities and sororities, and a student advisory board, among others.