Diversity Report 2010-2011: The University of Montana
The University of Montana's strategic plan includes a commitment to diversity on campus. In order to establish a baseline understanding of the present condition of diversity on the UM campus a comprehensive survey was designed and delivered to campus administrators. The survey was completed by a cross section of campus and analyzed. What follows is a brief extract on the results of the survey with a vision toward the continued growth and implementation of diversity actions for The University of Montana.
The original response to the desire to measure diversity on campus consisted of identifying four strategic choices, goals to meet each choice, and action items designed to reach each goal. The survey that was presented to campus sought to create a baseline assessment of diversity actions on campus. Thus, the full report serves as a measure of how well the University is doing with regard to each diversity goal - what we are doing well and where we need to improve. It is our intention that the full report serve as a useful tool for identifying opportunities to partner together to further promote diversity efforts.
Forty units at UM contributed information for this report by responding to the diversity survey. Twelve of the thirteen academic units and one particularly large department within an academic unit provided information. In addition, information was provided by the Office of Student Affairs and the units within the Student Affairs Division, Intercollegiate Athletics, Information Technology, Office of Institutional Research, Facilities Services, University Relations, Printing & Graphic Services, the Montana Museum of Art & Culture, Human Resource Services, Alumni Relations, Business Services, Office of Public Safety, Office of the Provost, Associated Students of the University of Montana, Diversity Advisory Council, ADA/504 Team, as well as The University of Montana Foundation. The Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis provided the demographic data. Data related to student enrollment, retention, and graduation was also drawn from a report compiled by the Office of Commissioner of Higher Education for the system-wide "Access to Success" initiative.
Strategic Choice 1: Enhance the campus culture of understanding, respect, support, and advancement of diversity.
The University of Montana has a website dedicated to diversity related issues (www.umt.edu/diversity). This page is maintained by Enrollment Services and provides a central location for diversity related information. It includes information about the Diversity Advisory Council, a message from the President, links to various diversity related issues, and places to report discrimination, hazing and harassment.
Important findings under strategic choice 1:
- Thirty-five percent of survey respondents ("units") report they disseminate annual statements promoting diversity as a primary measure of excellence at UM.
- Some units indicate they include information in faculty and student handbooks while others indicate they disseminate diversity goals through their mission, values, and vision statements.
- Over half the units include a commitment to diversity in their strategic plans.
- UM demonstrates a commitment to diversity through two separate annual awards - the Diversity Advisory Council Student Achievement Award and the Nancy Borgmann Diversity Award.
- Over sixty percent of units publicize and celebrate diversity awardees through annual awards and campus announcements.
- Important diversity training exists in the form of UM Allies training, specialized events designed for unit personnel, and encouraging participation in the Day of Dialogue.
- Steps are taken to communicate diversity to communities outside of campus by advertising diversity events through public sources such as the Kaimin and Facebook.
- Departments take steps to demonstrate for all new students and employees an understanding of the richness and importance of a diverse learning and working environment - such as Dining Services training in cultural sensitivity and the College of Technology hosting three brown bag lectures on transgender issues, displaced workers, and equal opportunity issues.
- Forty-nine percent of units participate in national organizations such as the American Council on Education, Council of Minorities in Higher Education, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
- Units provide resources and opportunities for staff, students, and faculty to safely report on diversity-related issues such as the UM Diversity webpage which includes links to a "Hazing and Harassment Hotline" and to the EO/AA webpage where individuals can "Report Discrimination".
- UM makes professional mediation services available to faculty, staff, and students - information about mediation can be found in Collective Bargaining Agreements and on the Human Resource Services website.
- The Diversity Advisory Council recently developed a campus walking tour that highlights diversity in the built environment - information about this tour is available on the UM website at http://map.umt.edu/diversitytour/.
Strategic Choice 2:Create avenues for access to the academy and for success within the academy for all individuals, and particularly populations historically underrepresented in the academy.
UM's academic units promote recruitment and enrollment of historically underrepresented populations by regularly discussing the recruitment strategies, summer exploratory programs, and grants/scholarships. Key areas such as Pharmacy, HHP and Social Work have collaborated with Montana's Tribal Colleges on grants and 2 + 2 programs. Within the Division of Student Affairs, positions in the Enrollment Services Office focus on minority and international recruitment of students in collaboration with several units across campus. In addition, Academic units such as the School of Forestry and College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences have specific grant programs also aimed at the recruitment and enrollment of underrepresented students.
Important findings under strategic choice 2:
- Since 1998 The University of Montana's Dual Admission Agreements have promoted the successful transfer of students between institutions.
- Studies demonstrate that students who transfer from a Tribal College have a higher retention and graduate rate compared to their high school cohort.
- The Dual Admission program provides students with the opportunity to be admitted to both their tribal college and UM at the initial point of application.
- Dual Admission students receive assistance with planning a course of study, early outreach, establishing a line of communication and an early transfer orientation - currently, a Dual Admission Agreement has been signed with each Montana's Tribal Colleges, in addition to Northwest College and Flathead Valley Community College.
- The diversity survey revealed a strong commitment and collaboration among the academic units to provide funding to transfer students from historically underrepresented students through federal and state grant programs - ex. Students to Academic Professoriate for American Indians (SAPAI), Bridges to the Baccalaureate, and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).
- The University is committed to improving the retention and graduation of new first-year students from historically underrepresented populations - currently, through a collaborative action plan, Partnering for Student Success focuses on the retention of all students by identifying and providing strategic support for them early in their academic career.
- The Diversity Survey shows that several units have already partnered with the Office of Student Success (OSS) to provide students with the necessary academic support outside of the classroom, such as advising, early warning, and tutoring. OSS, Enrollment Services and academic units have worked together to establish an early course registration process for new students - Virtual Early registration alleviates the socio-economic barriers to the previous first-come, first-serve model where students are not required to incur the expense of traveling to campus twice before their attendance.
- OSS and Enrollment Services also partnered to purchase Hobsons Retain which allows students to become academically engaged early in their transition to UM. The dashboard on My Academics Portal empowers advisors and departments in strengthening their communication and outreach to students.
- The University of Montana recently hired a Diversity Retention and Recruitment Coordinator whose primary responsibility is to identify and collaborate with the campus community to implement programs and processes that address underrepresentation of female and minority faculty and staff.
- The Diversity Survey indicates that some offices have taken measures to remove architectural, programmatic and attitudinal barriers in order to attract employees with diverse backgrounds.
Strategic Choice 3: Educate and prepare students to contribute and thrive in a multicultural society.
The University has recently embarked upon its Global Leadership Initiative. Fall Semester 2011, faculty will select a cohort of 200 freshmen as Global Leadership Fellows. These students will participate in seminars, courses and out-of-classroom experiences designed to help them become engaged, articulate global citizens. Junior year, fellows will study abroad, intern, or conduct research outside of the classroom. Senior year, they will work together on capstone projects. UM's academic strategic plan includes the initiative to "Embrace Diversity and Global Participation." It includes the following goals: Respect, welcome, encourage, and celebrate diversity; Ensure access for American Indians and foster the preservation of their culture; Correct inequities that exist due to historical exclusion of underrepresented populations; Enhance international learning and research opportunities for all.
Important findings under strategic choice 3:
- UM offers opportunities for scholarships and student loans to be applied to study abroad opportunities.
- Study abroad opportunities are offered in 58 different countries through three different UM-sponsored programs: Partner University Exchange, International Student Exchange Program, and Faculty-Directed Programs.
- A total of 226 students studied abroad in 2010-2011 on UM-Sponsored Study Abroad Programs - students traveled to Argentina, Australia, Austria, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
- UM is a member of ISEP, which allows students to spend a semester, year, or summer abroad at one of ISEP's 172 member institutions in 54 foreign countries - ISEP offers reciprocal exchanges in which UM students pay tuition, room and board at UM, yet attend an ISEP member institution abroad while an international student attends UM.
- Through UM's Faculty-Directed Programs, student groups led by UM professors explore the cultures, languages, literatures, and history of other countries, earning credits toward their degrees at UM.
- The UM International Programs (IP) coordinates a study abroad ambassador volunteer program whereby students who have recently studied abroad serve as mentors for students interested in studying abroad.
- The President's Office provides funding for departments to request training from the National Coalition Building Institute-Missoula (NCBI).
- The Faculty Professional Development Office provides professional development workshops for faculty, many of which address diversity-related topics. Examples of workshops are: "Strategies for Retaining Minority Students in the Major," "Skills for Resolving Interpersonal and Intergroup Conflicts," "Reaching Every Student: How Universal Design for Learning Increases Student Motivation and Engagement," "Pedagogy Project Micro-talk and Discussion: Navigating the Classroom Generation Gap."
- An important component of diversity at UM is to ensure that academic programming reflects the "distinct and unique cultural heritage of the American Indians . . . [and to be] committed in [our] educational goals to the preservation of their cultural integrity." (Montana Constitution, Article X, Section 1, Subsection 2). A faculty member in the Department of Native American Studies serves as Special Assistant to the Provost working on planning, programing, and communications activities.
- An excellent example at UM of engaging the community in dialogue and action around the diversity of thought, expression, ideology, and culture is the annual Day of Dialogue. The Day of Dialogue (DoD) is a campus-wide series of events focused on topics of diversity. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members discuss, present, perform, and exhibit art throughout the day
Strategic Choice 4: Develop an organizational structure to ensure implementation, evaluation and periodic renewal of strategic choices 1-3.
An important component of the Diversity Strategic Plan is to ensure that the entire campus community has an opportunity to provide input about their experiences with respect to diversity at UM. In order to begin to assess progress on maintaining a teaching, learning, and working environment that welcomes and respects diversity, all members of the UM community are encouraged to provide their feedback at http://itoselect.ito.umt.edu/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=m2K0no42.
The Diversity Strategic Plan is a living document. After the campus community has had an opportunity to read and comment on this diversity report, a committee will analyze the feedback; determine if any changes need to be made to the diversity plan; inform the campus community of any changes. The cycle for gathering and analyzing information in preparation for the next diversity report will begin again. The full report of the UM Diversity Strategic Plan is located at http://umt.edu/eo/diversity/diversityplan.aspx. We encourage you to visit this web location and review the details of the report - there is vital information in the complete report that gives life to the work of diversity initiatives on campus and how this work can continue to grow and evolve.
As noted in the introduction, this is the first diversity report after the development of the new UM Diversity Strategic Plan. The committee members who analyzed the information gathered from the various units and compiled this report were: Juana Alcala, Ray Carlisle, Julie Biando-Edwards, Emily Ferguson-Steger, Melissa Steinike, Annie Weiler, Terri Phillips, Blakely Brown, Lucy France. The Office of Planning, Budgeting and Analysis was extremely helpful in providing quantitative data and analysis. Chris Lynn, from the Department of Enrollment Services served as the technical expert to create various electronic mechanisms to gather and organize the large amount of information that served as a basis for this report.