IU Southeast will strengthen and improve diversity in its programming, hiring, student recruitment, business practices, and outreach.
The mission statement of IU Southeast notes its commitment to the "intellectual and social growth of students, to the cultural and economic well-being of Southern Indiana and the greater Louisville metropolitan region, and to the advancement of knowledge in the context of a global society." Creating a diverse campus in population, programming, and environment is essential to fulfilling this academic mission. Included in the definition of diversity are characteristics including age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, and socio-economic status.
Indiana's Blueprint for Policy and Planning Development in Higher Education notes that "higher education is a key component to a diverse, strong and growing economy for Indiana." It further states that those with bachelor's degrees will not only acquire nearly twice the lifetime earnings of high school graduates but that they tend to more fully contribute to their communities both financially and through involvement as citizens. Although Southern Indiana has a relatively small minority population, it remains significantly underserved, even though it is growing quickly, primarily through Hispanic immigration to the area. In addition, the urban population in Metro Louisville and surrounding counties has significant minority, immigrant, and adult populations that would benefit from increased access to college. IU Southeast also has a large enrollment imbalance in gender because of fewer male students. The campus has made some improvement in minority student enrollment; however, this segment of the student body remains substantially lower in numbers than the various available underserved and diverse populations in this area. The entire community would benefit from rising college enrollment and graduation rates for these citizens.
Approximately 90% of IU Southeast's students remain in the region and engage in professional activity in an area that spans rural, suburban, and urban environments which include populations with a breadth of economic, social, ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. Those entering health professions, business, industry, criminal justice, education, the arts, or other sectors of the workforce in the region, as well as students moving elsewhere for jobs or graduate school, will undoubtedly work with and serve a diversity of clientele. Current census information estimates that by 2050 approximately 47% of the national population will be minorities, and many of those minorities are choosing to live in rural as well as urban communities (Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce @ www.MBDA.gov). Awareness of varying cultural perspectives and language is vital to professional success and communal well-being, as is the ability to communicate and work effectively with persons of diverse age, ethnicity, disabilities, religion, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. An undergraduate education should prepare students not only for the specific skills of their disciplines but also help develop them as successful practitioners in their fields when confronted with an ever-changing and increasingly diverse world.
Interdependence in the global village is a reality. Modern technology has ensured that each person is affected by events around the world, whether through professional activities or as individuals dependent politically and financially on world events. Higher education needs to provide students with a foundation for understanding other societies and appreciating both the similarities and differences in world-view of diverse communities. Implicit in this task is providing a learning environment that gives campus community members an opportunity to interact with students, faculty, staff, and administrators of diverse ethnicity, faith, age, gender, socio-economic status, race, and sexual orientation. Such experience will enhance the knowledge acquired by working together and, in the case of students particularly, will provide mentors and role models in various professions that mirror a diverse population. Academic programming should include opportunities for broader and greater in-depth knowledge of and experiences with diverse societies in order to create a learning environment that prepares students for the world at large.
Improved diversity and equity at the University require: a) a commitment from all its constituencies, b) curricular and co-curricular alignment with these principles, c) a pluralistic and welcoming campus climate, and d) a consistent and steady effort to ensure increased diversity of students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
IU Southeast's long-range goal is to become a model for the support of diversity in Southern Indiana; however, the campus recognizes that achieving this goal will probably require a timeframe longer than this current five-year planning effort. Consequently, the following strategic objectives and initiatives are geared towards establishing a foundation for continued improvement in diversity and equity that will extend beyond this plan. In order to be successful, IU Southeast's diversity efforts will need to be embraced by the campus at large, energized by the leadership, and systematically assessed. The value of improved internationalization in the curriculum and the campus population as a facet of diversity is included in several of the objectives below. However, internationalization of the campus is a major undertaking which spans several strategic goals and merits careful consideration as a topic in its own right.
Diversity and equity will be among the guiding principles of IU Southeast and will be the responsibility of the entire campus community.
Such principles must be infused into all activities and programs of the campus and cannot be perceived as the responsibility of one person or office. Change will occur only if these principles are overtly championed by those in leadership positions, academic and nonacademic. Evidence of progress in accomplishing the goals of diversity and equity in the light of available resources should be an important consideration in the overall evaluation of the campus leadership and those responsible for particular initiatives.
IU Southeast will prepare students to function effectively in a culturally diverse community and a global society by infusing principles of diversity and equity throughout the curriculum.
To some extent, IU Southeast's goal of strengthening diversity will be addressed by creating an overall environment that exposes students to "other voices" and requires functioning in a university community with tolerance to difference. However, successful learning will also require increased attention to diversity in academic programming.
IU Southeast will improve the campus climate so that it reflects, respects, and is inviting for a diverse campus community, as well as the community at large.
IU Southeast recognizes that establishing a critical mass of staff, students, and faculty from underrepresented groups is essential for creating a campus climate both accepting and welcoming. At all times the campus environment should reflect the high value IU Southeast places on diversity, equity, and global awareness.
IU Southeast will become a model for diversity and equity in Southern Indiana by increasing the diversity of the campus community to at least that which reflects the population of our service area in appropriate proportions, including Southern Indiana and the Greater Metro Louisville region. We will create a pluralistic and equitable learning environment that prepares students for the world at large and reflects the values of diversity, equity, and global awareness professed by the campus.