MU tackles increasing diversity in higher education

Posted on 8 November 2017 at 3:18pm

COLUMBIA - Faculty at the University of Missouri met on Wednesday to discuss ways to increase and support diversity among faculty on MU's campus.

The four-part workshop series concentrated on identifying resources and areas of improvement and stressed the need to have difficult conversations about diversity. 

Dr. Erin Lynch-Alexander was brought in by the College of Education and the Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.

"When I feel connected to my institution I'm more likely to stay and that's on the student side and and on the faculty side," Lynch said.

Lynch is the director of student research at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee.

"It is important that we have these types of conversations about diversity and inclusivity to help make sure that the right narrative is being told and the right conversations are being had," Lynch said.

She also said the number of students of color in higher education only emphasizes the need to have broader representation on the administrative side. 

"More students of color are going to college campuses and so we need to make sure that they are seeing people who look like them."

Caprice Leighton is an executive assistant with the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity at MU.

She said holding workshops about topics like diversity provides the university with a chance to take a step in the right direction. 

"We have the opportunity to be a powerful voice, to create safe spaces for faculty to come together so that we can address the areas we need to improve."

Leighton also said the response from MU's faculty has been positive.

"The faculty here is excited to be presented with new ideas and to learn how to be better," Leighton said.

"The opportunity to create change here is great and we're here so that we can put in work to make that change."

The Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity was created a year after the 2015 campus protests, which led to the resignations of UM System President Tim Wolfe and MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. The protests started in part because of complaints of a lack of diversity among MU faculty and staff.