MU Chancellor Loftin announces new diversity initiative

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COLUMBIA - MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced a new diversity and inclusion initiative at MU Thursday morning. The initiative is a mandatory diversity and inclusion training program for all faculty, staff and new students entering MU in Jan. 2016. New students who do not complete the training will not be able to register for classes.

Loftin said the program is the first step towards a more inclusive campus at MU. 

"There's no simple answer to this kind of issue. Changing people's hearts is very difficult and very challenging," Loftin said. "You do it one step at a time, you do it multiple ways and this is one more piece of what we're doing here at Mizzou to make us a better place." 

Loftin said there are many challenges to creating a diverse atmosphere, including retention of diverse faculty and staff. 

"We've worked hard on attracting faculty, staff and students here from diverse backgrounds. The challenge is not only attracting them, but retaining them," Loftin said. "Look at the numbers. The number of faculty of color here at the university has not changed dramatically over time."

This action comes after several racist incidents on campus. These tensions date back to campus forums on race relations last spring and MU's first Title IX report last month. Loftin said MU has tried to be proactive with campus issues, but the nature of a large institution slows down the process. 

"I think Mizzou and most universities have tried to be proactive," Loftin said. "Universities are institutions that don't change rapidly so reactive nature is not unusual for universities." 

Loftin said his office will consult with deans, department chairs and faculty on a training program. There is no decision yet on whether current MU students will have to do the training.