Chancellor Christina Drale at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock announced future diversity initiative plans in response to the open forums on July 8 and 9 that focused around race and ethnicity. There were over 300 participants from both faculty members and staff along with numerous anonymous comments.
“These plans are in response to recent campus conversations as well as to Goal 5 of the UA Little Rock Strategic Plan: UA Little Rock will improve diversity, inclusion, equality, and global understanding in the campus community,” Drake said in an email. “It is also responsive to the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, particularly Goal 3 regarding student retention.”
There are currently four actions underway at the university for the diversity initiatives.
The Student Multicultural Center will be relaunched and located on the second floor of the Ottenheimer Library which will have a new assistant director and programming budget through external funding.
The Student Affairs Diversity Initiatives will be relaunched as well with an expanded mentoring program that includes peer and faculty members. Stipends will be provided to mentors.
The Racial Barriers Committee recommended by the student government association will be formed and student-oriented to review policies and process for potential unintended racial barriers as well as to create a place for complaints, concerns or suggestions from students in regards to race and ethnicity issues.
Drale mentioned the formation of a new faculty and staff-oriented Chancellor’s Race and Ethnicity Advisory Committee which is based on a similar committee created by former Chancellor Joel Anderson in effort to continue the conversation about race and ethnicity
The university is also developing implicit bias training for employees and students, best practices on diversity hiring, a salary equity study and a campus-wide book discussion centered on race and ethnicity. Suggestions for books to consider for campus reading can be submitted here.
Future forums on race and ethnicity will be held for students on Wednesday, September 9 and for faculty and staff members on Thursday, September 10. There have also been feedback forms set up for the open forums for individuals to submit.
There are also three general support actions underway that will help students overall and break some of the barriers they may face to success with external funding.
The Student Retention Initiatives will be expanded to include student success coaches, peer mentoring and a learning assistant program. The Chancellor’s Leadership Corps, a scholarship-supported leadership development program, will open a success coach position and have its programming budget expanded. There will also be a Career Services Center launched to help with personnel and budgets.