Campus News Society & Culture

UGA diversity committee focused on three priorities

Over the past several months, members of the University of Georgia’s Planning Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence have been doing a lot of listening – to students, to faculty and staff, to alumni and community members.

This period of in-depth listening and information gathering is helping the committee to develop goals to accomplish the following diversity priorities: 1) to build a more inclusive living/learning environment that supports access and success for diverse students; 2) to recruit and retain a diverse workforce; and 3) to expand partnerships and outreach to strengthen diverse communities.

“The committee’s purpose is to develop a plan that supports and sustains the University of Georgia’s diversity and inclusion efforts over the next five years,” said Michelle Cook, DIE co-chair and UGA’s vice provost for diversity and inclusion and strategic university Initiatives. “I love this place, the University of Georgia, and I recognize our capacity to be leaders in diversity and inclusion in higher education. And I think that this plan will help us get closer to that goal.”

Comprised of 21 faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members, the Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Committee has conducted more than 40 focus groups to inform the development of the five-year plan.

“Now we’re looking across all the data that we have collected to identify clear and measurable goals that can guide the campus community in a common endeavor to strengthen diversity and inclusion,” said DIE committee co-chair Kyle Tschepikow, who serves as UGA’s special assistant to the president and director for strategy and innovation. “We hope these goals will serve as a roadmap and source of inspiration as we work together to strengthen our university.”

Goals under development by the committee include:

  • increasing enrollment of underrepresented students;
  • increasing need-based student scholarships for undergraduate and graduate education;
  • increasing the number of underrepresented faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate assistants and student workers;
  • supporting and recognizing faculty and staff for diversity and inclusion efforts;
  • increasing institutional visibility in the educational pipeline of underserved communities; and
  • expanding experiential learning opportunities for students in rural Georgia.

The committee expects to complete its work over the summer. Then, every school, college and major administrative unit within the institution will have the opportunity to develop its own diversity and inclusive excellence plan that aligns with the university-level plan.

“My hope is that this plan leads to action and accountability that enables all of our staff, faculty and students to feel welcome and supported at the university,” said Ron Walcott, who serves as vice provost for graduate education and dean of the graduate school and is leading the subcommittee focused on recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce.

Bill McDonald is dean of students and leads the subcommittee on building an inclusive living/learning environment. He’s excited about having an understandable plan with achievable outcomes “that will hold us accountable for making sure that the University of Georgia supports everyone. My passion is making sure everybody feels welcome here.”

Gwen Moss only saw herself in one position when she started working at the university 27 years ago, but then realized how many doors were open to her at UGA. Currently, she is assistant vice president for fiscal affairs in Public Service & Outreach. She leads the subcommittee focused on community partnerships. “I just want to make sure everybody has the same opportunities and the same seat at the table,” Moss said. “That’s what I’m passionate about.”