All in for Diversity

The UW redoubles its commitment to a welcoming campus environment.

Cheryl Gittens

Gittens is helping the university explore “transforrmative change.” Jeff Miller

UW–Madison is working to meet its public mission by creating a diverse and inclusive community. It’s made progress with successful programs like Diversity Forum and the Faculty Diversity Initiative.

But after the recent Black Lives Matter protests and other calls to action, UW leaders saw an opportunity to redouble their commitment to a welcoming campus environment.

“We believe diversity is a source of strength, offering opportunities for innovation, scholarship, and community-building,” says Cheryl Gittens, the UW’s interim deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. “Diversity strengthens our learning enterprise as a whole.”

A new Office of Inclusion Education, housed within Student Affairs, will develop programming that addresses identity and community. It grew out of conversations with the Student Inclusion Coalition, the Wisconsin Black Student Union, and other groups representing students who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

To equip students with the skills for creating an inclusive community, the Our Wisconsin training program is now mandatory for incoming undergraduates.

“It’s a good strategy to think about this curriculum in the same way we consider other educational programs, like AlcoholEdu or preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence,” Gittens says.

A new Exceptional Service Support Award will acknowledge faculty who play a critical role in supporting institutional inclusion efforts. Recipients will gain release time from teaching to allow a focus on service.

“Their work as mentors and collaborators is critical to what we’re trying to do to create an inclusive campus environment,” Gittens says.

The university is partnering with the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association on a $10 million fundraising initiative to recruit and retain a more diverse group of students, faculty, and staff. It’s also investing $1 million in research that sheds light on race in America.

“This is what I appreciate about UW–Madison,” Gittens says. “There’s a commitment to strategies we can adopt to better understand who we are and where we need to direct our energy toward transformative change.”

Tags: administration, diversity, financial aid, Student life

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