During the past 12 months, University colleges have communicated the need to increase diversity as one of their highest priorities, but expressed concern about how to identify and fund effective diversity and inclusion initiatives. The Graduate School’s Diversity Office, under the guidance of newly appointed Associate Dean Yoji Shimizu, is committed to providing increased consultation to colleges and programs regarding effective initiatives. The annual allocation of $4.5 million in GAGE funding will, for the foreseeable future, focus on supporting their implementation.
Increasing the diversity of students earning University graduate degrees is a high priority for the Graduate School because
- we believe in providing equal access to a graduate education,
- we see training a diverse set of scholars as integral to accomplishing our land grant mission, and
- we understand that the quality of our scholarship is enhanced as a function of the increased diversity of our scholarly community.
The Graduate School recognizes the variability among programs regarding current levels of diversity and the barriers that hinder the goal of increasing the diversity of students earning University graduate degrees.
We ask each college, therefore, to determine how the GAGE funds can best be used to accomplish this goal, keeping in mind that simply increasing recruitment or enrollment of students from underrepresented populations, in the absence of attention to inclusivity upon matriculation, can be detrimental to the primary goal of students’ degree completion.
It is expected that the ultimate goal of the GAGE program - increasing the diversity of students receiving graduate degrees - will likely to take many years to achieve. For the next several years, then, we will measure indicators of progress toward this goal, such as an increase in the diversity of applicants, an increase in the diversity of students who enroll, and underrepresented students’ satisfaction with their program.
The GAGE program will minimize the need for additional work by colleges and programs, as the Graduate School is able to provide much of the assessment data necessary to measure indicators of progress (for example, applications, admissions, matriculation, and enrollment data, as well as results from the gradSERU).
“Diversity” in this instance is the inclusion of individuals with differing backgrounds and experiences derived from, e.g., different ethnicities, gender identities, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds, veteran status, and/or disabilities.
Possible uses of GAGE funds include (but are not limited to) initiatives designed to:
- increase the number of applications from underrepresented populations,
- improve admissions procedures to minimize bias,
- improve offers and offer procedures to increase matriculation rates,
- improve advising/mentoring practices to make graduate programs more welcoming,
- create a collegiate community that provides a network for students from underrepresented populations who are in graduate programs with minimal diversity, and
- provide professional development opportunities that prepare students from underrepresented populations for the careers they aspire to pursue.