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Beyond the News

Creating a Culture of Inclusiveness

University Business, Sept 2011
Diversity training helps Ivy Tech faculty and staff relate to all students.

Research has shown that minority students are more likely to succeed when faculty and staff are equally diverse. While many institutions are still trying to boost campus diversity, Ivy Tech Community College (Ind.) doesn't have that problem.

In fact, its leaders held a campus diversity retreat at the end of July to discuss keeping their current efforts strong. "We want to have consistent goals and objectives across our 14 campuses," explains Jeff Terp, vice president for engagement and program analysis. There is a desire to expand on current efforts in the 29-campus system, which enrolls 52 percent of all minority college students in Indiana. The system also has the highest minority business enterprise (MBE) purchasing program in Indiana.

The two-day retreat included representatives from Ivy Tech's president's diversity cabinet and student government, state trustees, chancellors, senior leadership, and external constituents. The overarching theme: creating a culture of inclusiveness on campus. Participants left with the goals of continuing to improve hiring practices and engaging communities that host campuses. In all Ivy Tech regions, Terp says, the percentage of faculty and staff exceeds that of the community's minority population.

A commitment to diversity has to come from senior leadership to be successful, Terp advises. "That commitment has to be more than wanting it, you have to have specific actions to accomplish it." A diverse faculty and staff is important when trying to recruit a diverse student body, he points out, adding that administrators should keep in mind that diversity includes characteristics such as gender, age, and physical ability. "If you want a diverse population, you have to be committed to putting the resources into it."

—Ann McClure